Last night, I found myself in a setting fit for a scene out of "Arabian Nights". Instead of Scheherezadeh trying to save her neck from imminent death by the deeply misogynistic ruler, Sharyar, I was enveloped in a world of fierce, gorgeous, powerful goddesses who were reclaiming the narrative of the exoticized orientalist fantasies of the harem.
Orientalize yourself, Fetishize yourself...
This is how I would describe the magical, sensual photoshoot event put together by the newly formed MOOZIS. The MOOZIS (as per their FB page) "are a collective of artists attempting to bring together kindred peoples of non-traditional, feminist, sex-positive, gender and non-gender inclusive, progressive, multi-abled, creative and multiplicitous cultural and spiritual Muslims. We are interested in learning through internal exchange with our kindred without judgement while creating playful, subcultural programs to connect, learn and make ourselves count in the definition and understandings of Muslims. We hope to use this cultural exchange to create an elaborate extended network that can help and collaborate, building us strong and out of isolation."
As a finale to their spring residency at The Women's Center for Creative Work in Los Angeles, the MOOZIS (founded by Amitis Motevalli, Arshia Fatima Haq and Sasha Ali), organized a photoshoot for the MOOZI members with the theme " Internally Orientalized Auto-Ethnographic Portraits". Those of us who were invited to participate in this photo shoot were encouraged to "orientalize yourself, fetishize yourself, and portray yourself as you please."
This definitely appealed to my inner Savage Muse and I very enthusiastically pulled together a look that allowed me to orientalize and fetishize myself. You will have to wait to see the final results of the photo shoot, shot by the very talented photographer Labbie Manesh .
In addition to the talented photograher and gorgeous MOOZI models, part of what made this photoshoot absolutely magical and stunning was the fact that we had it at a historical rug shop in Pasadena that has been around since the 1930's. The Pasadena Rug Mart is a treasure trove of antiques, rug, art and exquisite relics of a sensual and romantic past, run by a third generation descendant of Oriental rug master weavers and merchants, Mr. Abbas Firouzi. Sadly, they will be closing their doors soon, so if you have a chance, pay them a visit and get yourself an authentic Persian rug or antiques before this treasure of a store is gone.