Sep 2, 2004




Céline van Balen

(Dutch, b. 1965)

Chromogenic process color print

Image: 33.2 x 27.3 cm (13 1/16 x 10 3/4 in.); Mounted: 37.1 x 29.6 cm (14 5/8 x 11 5/8 in.); Matted: 66 x 55.9 cm (26 x 22 in.)

Gift of Friends of Photography 2001.131



During the late 1990s, Dutch artist Céline van Balen created a remarkable series, Islamic Girls. Featuring young women from different immigrant Muslim communities in the Netherlands, these compositionally spare photographs, with dark backgrounds and gentle facial highlights, are reminiscent of Northern Renaissance portraiture. Van Balen focuses on the heads of the sitters, whose piercing eyes seem to stare directly at the viewer. Unsmiling mouths and solemn gazes disclose little of the inner personalities of the girls. While the girls' head coverings proclaim their common faith, differences in eye color, skin tone, and the shape of their features reveal the ethnic diversity in the Muslim community.

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