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Modernism on the NileArt in Egypt between the Islamic and the Contemporary$
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Alex Dika Seggerman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653044

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653044.001.0001

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Potent Flows

Potent Flows

The Fellaha and Water Jug

Chapter:
(p.179) Chapter 5 Potent Flows
Source:
Modernism on the Nile
Author(s):

Alex Dika Seggerman

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653044.003.0006

In chapter 5, Seggerman charts the image of the Egyptian peasant woman and water jug from eighteenth-century travel literature through Orientalist painting, ultimately culminating in the work of two female artists of the Nasser era—Gazbia Sirry (b. 1925) and Inji Efflatoun (1924–89). In isolating this one image, Seggerman explains how through the porous boundaries of Egyptian visual culture, potent images gained meaning through their movement through time, space, and medium. Through a feminist lens, the chapter reevaluates this pair’s ubiquity in colonial and national visual culture, arguing that the image embodies the sublime power of the Nile valley and the desire to control that dangerous resource. By the 1950s, Efflatoun and Sirry retooled depictions of the working female body to argue for active membership in society for Egyptian women. The fellaha and her jug represent how a single image moved through constellational modernism.

Keywords:   Inji Efflatoun, Gazbia Sirry, feminism, Egyptian peasant, fellaha, Orientalist art, Nile valley, colonialism, nationalism, Gamal Abdel Nasser

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