Reframing Borders

Hiding beneath all sorts of barriers, covering up all of those fragments within that wandered soul, her outward self is a reflection of her inner-self: reaching for the light, reformed at its finest. 

(مُخْتَبِئةٌ خَلْفَ حَواجِزٍ مُتَعَدِدةِ الأَوْجُه، حاجِبَةً أَشْتاتَ روحَها التائِهةُ. ظاهِرُها ما هُوَ إِلا إِنْعِكاسٌ لِسَريرَتِها، مُراقِصةً للنور في أوْجِ تَكْوِنِها…)

غائبة، غائبة

This self-portrait, triptych work is a journey between (Then… Now… Later…) (آنَذَاكْ… فِي هَذِهِ اَلْلَحْظَةْ… لَاحِقَاً…). The woman represented in the three different photos is walking through different stages or perhaps distinct phases of life. Between the past, present and future, she gradually finds herself and blooms.

The veil hiding the face is a representation of the border between the inner-self and the outer self, depicted in the visible hand tatted in the Arabic poem written by the poet and artist Ismail Alrifai about a moment of creation. She was never absent entirely; she was only representing bits and pieces of herself selectively.

غائبة، حاضرة

The shadows employed were used as a tool to reframe the boundaries of her body’s geography. Between her veiled inner self and those who are left outside of the veil is a delineated border that she drew and fully controlled. In her transitioning, she’s making a statement: “How about I deny you visual access? Only at times, then perhaps I will allow you a gradual exposure, until full visual access is permitted.”

حاضرة، حاضرة

Photographer: Khalid Alyasen


Maryam is a Kuwaiti interior architect and art historian. Her interest and excitement for the exploration of art, architecture, education, and culture extends beyond the typical boxed ways of thinking. She is in a constant investigation of the construction and reconstruction of one’s self- identity and the representation of their own bodies.

You can find her on Instagram here.

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