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Power of the Word III: Women: Navigating Presence and Absence

June 24, 2021 – March 31, 2022

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Av. de Berna 45A, 1067-001 Lisbon, Portugal


The third edition of the project ‘Power of the Word’ culminates in an installation in the Islamic East Gallery that explores the voices of women in this museum space.

Where are women in the Islamic East Gallery? And how do they exist here? These seemingly simple questions have never been contemplated and spurred a new feminist reading of the Collection. By abandoning the traditional frame of imperial categories, which has long emphasized male hereditary dynasties (Safavids, Mughals, Ottomans), this project sought to recover the voices of the women who made and used these objects, or who had a role in their existence.

Through collaborative research and storytelling, a group of women speaking different languages (Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Portuguese) came together to create new and empowering narratives, ranging from Eve and the Original Sin to Herstory, Women’s Art and Craft, and the Body, explored here.

The participants also brought their own narratives into play during the project, by sharing their own life stories, poems and works of art. They converse about their experiences in a special podcast, accompanied by an online interactive with images and scholarly, personal and imaginary texts.


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Issue 63, 2021 Lure of the Exotic
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