Artist: Jananne Al-Ani (Iraq, born 1966; active United Kingdom)
Printer: DA Associates
Historical period(s)
1996 (printed 1998)
Color photographic prints from black and white internegatives
H x W x D (with frame) each: 132.7 × 185.4 × 1.9 cm (52 1/4 × 73 × 3/4 in)
England, London
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds
Freer Gallery of Art Study Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


England, Iraq, portrait, self portrait, woman
Provenance research underway.

This photograph and its pair (S1986.112.2) by the contemporary artist Jananne al-Ani, are meant to face each other across a small distance. The same figures appear in both photographs but in reverse seating order and stages of veiling. Solemn and motionless, the women have been isolated from their natural setting and challenge the camera. Instead of choosing a comfortable vantage point from which to examine the photographs, the viewer is now forced to stand between them, trapped by the steady, piercing gaze of the women.

By portraying her subjects veiled and unveiled in a steady continuum and substituting one appearance for another, al-Ani has visually deconstructed and demystified her subject in front of our very eyes. She uses the veil simultaneously as a means to obscure and to reveal, thus lending her work a range of meanings and encouraging a variety of emotional and psychological responses. Untitled was the winner of the prestigious John Kobler Photographic Portrait Award (National Portrait Gallery, London) in 1997. 

Published References
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 84-85.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 156-157.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World, Contemporary Art
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