Monday, December 10, 2007

The Monday Muse: Princeton University Art Museum's Beloved Daughters: Photograhs by Fazal Sheikh

By Kimberly Baldwin

Between now and January 6, 2008 you absolutely must make time to visit the Princeton University Art Museum to see Beloved Daughters: Photographs by Fazal Sheikh. The exhibit is a combination of two of the artist-activist's 2005 projects: photographs and testimonials of dispossessed widows in the northern Indian holy city of Vrindavan that appeared in his fifth book, Moksha (Heaven) and Ladli (Beloved Daughter), a funded project that explored the challenges faced by girls and young women in a fast-changing yet tradition-bound society.

On the surface, you'll find 150 black and white aesthetically beautiful and haunting images. Each photograph is expertly composed and captures the essence of each subject. As you read the accompanying text and learn the stories behind the faces – of the abandonment, forced prostitution, domestic slavery, and murder – you are forced to reconsider your initial reaction to the works. The stories are deeply moving and may come as a shock to many. The exhibit will leave you much more aware and questioning India's retrogressive treatment of women in a time when their economic profile is becoming more contemporary.

The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Find more exhibits and art events here.

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