Fatma Shanan


March 2020

Home 4, Oil on Canvas,120X180 cm, 2016, Ann and Dr. Ari Rosenblatt collection. LA.jpg

Artist Statement

As a Druze Israeli artist, I explore the symbolic meaning and domestic function of rugs, which are an essential part of my autobiography and my cultural background. Within the cultural aspect, the rug is related to nomadism: it goes alongside the traveler, its four defined edges create a specific territory – a space that can be placed anywhere, anytime. It can create order and a sense of location, and facilitate a heterotopic zone. This zone is established through a subversive act, which deprives the rug from its traditional, symbolic status: As I take the rug out of its original social context and place it in new surroundings, it creates a personal space,

through which I examine the ideas of borders, limits, territory, and colonization. My paintings are based on photographic documentation of installations I make with rugs in different locations.

My paintings examine the affects which social norms and codes of conduct have on the individual’s physical body. Whether they are placed in an open landscape and harness the scene around them, or filling in the whole canvas, the rugs in my paintings create a mental leeway: a private sphere where I can inquire my own mental and physical limits, my own borders as a woman and as a female artist.

As a defined, restrained area, the rug raises questions concerning control, rules breaking and border crossing, which I relate to from a feminist perspective: In my works, I create a symbolic role switch, as the rug carries the restrictions which were once applied on the female body itself. Once the rug is placed outdoors, its importance is annulled, making room for the presence of the female body. Thus, the rug becomes an object of identity.

Many of my painting are occupied with figures of girls or women, who represent my presence in the image. Recently, my own image appears in my works, as I become more aware of the importance of the actual place and physical experience I am going through and as I elaborate the genuine connection between myself, my body and the symbolism of the rug.