by Shirin Neshat
"Ce regard avec lequel un jour de depart on voudrait emporter le paysage qu'on va quitter pour toujours."
As you all would have learnt by now, one of my main sources of inspiration is my favorite daily newspaper: le Monde. The variety of opinions it offers and the depth of analysis the writers delve into, encourage me to question my own thinking and to raise subjects which I discuss here on my blog. The topics can be as light as the player selection for the FIFA French team, or as serious as the integral veil, as appeared in the issue of May 13, under the penmanship of Yves Simon, a writer I am not acquainted with, but whose prose strung a chord in me and encouraged me to make the followng literal translation of his article for my Anglophone readership. Those francophones who are interested in reading the original version, may find it in the Le Monde of May 13, 2010 ( articile entitled "Visage, mappemonde de l'au-dela").
PS: I have taken the freedom of translating only part of the original article. The Proust quotation was chosen by the author and will thus remain in its original language.
"If faces are our personal property, then each one of them is part of the world's heritage,as representatives of humanity in its totality. As a result, these faces cannot subtract themselves from the chain of six billion individuals to whom they belong. Masking them would become an intolerable infringement to the history of women and men.
Faces have the ability to communicate without moving lips. Voiceless they recount a story that comes from afar, a tale of beauty and hideousness, of youth and wrinkles, of enthusiasm and emotion, of worry and joy, embarrassment and even fear. Our faces represent a small offering of one's self on a first encounter with a stranger, be it a powerful face or a miserable one. I offer you my face so that you may discover a little part of me, from where I come, if my tanned skin tells you of ancient suns, if my transparent skin indicates deficient red blood cells, or if I hail from Ireland. My nose speaks to you, my cheeks speak to you, as do my forehead and my chin. They tell of recklessness, good will, worries or indulgences.
Your face tells me just as much. Our two ovals of skin emit to one another an opinion of ourselves. I am my face and you are yours. With our chance encounter, we offer simultaneously to one another our respective images, equally shared, in surprising fraternity.
These faces, which remain buried in our memories, restore the personalities of those deceased. Thus, we frame their portraits, we speak to them and kiss them, we hug them and shed tears just by encountering them at the end of the day, when we return home. We cherish these icons of our lives that restitute
man, woman, or child we loved so dearly.[...] Each face represents a personality's emissary in his entirety, like an angel-messenger who announces, without a word, the good and the bad news. Like an ambassador of our troubles and moods: the face is the person, and it surprises.
Faces are magnets. How we all delight, on the terrace of a cafe, as we watch them stream by us, like at the theater, wondering about the scales of their feelings and their suffocating torments, perhaps a birth, a concern, or a jealousy [...].
Truly, to look into a single face, is to witness humanity entirely...."
These comments, written by Yves Simon, are also a reflection of my opinion. I cannot imagine a more lyrical way to assert my opinion about wearing the integral veil, which conceals the faces of women in my world.
The photograph by Shireen Neshat, a self portrait, was the most symbolic way to illustrate this article. It is all "written" on her face!