“…When I think of the image of the belly dancer, I think of an image that is static. Even though she is a dancer, I see her as a passive representation placed before me like an ornament. I am occupied by what she is wearing, how she looks and what her costume and her movements symbolize within the aesthetic codes of Oriental culture. If I were to have painted Flora at the end of the 19th century, she would have taken her place among a long series of odalisques drawn under the prevailing Orientalist influence that lacked any feminist consciousness. But today it is clear to me that the balance of powers has tipped. When a woman chooses to be a belly dancer, she assumes an image that has, in essence been shaped by male fantasies. But can we say that when a woman goes along with a male fantasy, at the same time she controls this fantasy and manipulates it as she wishes? This point of inversion between a position of weakness and one of control in the image of the belly dancer is fascinating to me. It is the element of temptation that interests me, and this is what loads the image of Flora with remoteness as well as with arrogance. In effect, she is free of dependence upon a male and enjoys her own sexuality.
I feel the same way about my own paintings. There is something feminine about them because I insist that they have the ability to tempt. The beauty, the bright colors, their decorativeness and floweriness – all these give my paintings a power of attraction that enables me to say what I want to say and to earn the longed for looks and attention of my viewers…”
Artist’s Monologue: Eliahou Eric Bokobza