Under the Skin: Feminist Art and Art Histories from the Middle East and North Africa Today is set out to show what is beneath the surface, under the appearances of skin, body, colour and provenance, and not the cultural fixities or partial views detached from the realities of communities, cultures and practices from the area. Through 12 chapters, Under the Skin brings together artistic practices and complex histories informed by feminisms from diverse cultural and geographical contexts: Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey.
The aim is not to represent all of the countries from the Middle East and North Africa, but to present a cross-section that reflects the variety of nations, cultures, languages and identities across the area-including those of Berber, Mizrahi Jews, Kurdish, Muslim, Christian, Arab, Persian and Armenian peoples. It thus considers art informed by feminisms through translocal and transnational lenses of diverse ethnic, linguistic and religious groups not solely as a manifestation of multiple and complex social constructions, but also as a crucial subject of analysis in the project of decolonising art history and contemporary visual culture. The volume offers an understanding on how art responds to and shapes cultural attitudes towards gender and sexuality, ethnicity/race, religion, tradition, modernity and contemporaneity, and local and global politics. And it strives to strike a balance by connecting the studies of scholars based in the European-North American geography with those attached to the institutions in the Middle East and North Africa in order to stimulate different feminist and decolonial perspectives and debates on art and visual culture from the area.