This self-portrait came about as a result of a month-long stay in Vermont, in the middle of winter, a few years ago. The way travel makes one feel unmoored coincided here with a research I was carrying out into the motif of the departing woman (usually a supernatural wife or mother), which recurs in folktales from around the world. The portrait was directly informed by the physical sensations of putting up in a strange room, of pressing through freshly fallen snow to get to and away from the room, and of putting on warm, freshly laundered underclothes in that room to armour my body against the white unfamiliarity of the snow. It was also indirectly informed by long hours spent thinking about the symbolic structures that have been raised, over the centuries, around the female body and about how, in a state of undress, the body can be most open to reimaginings. The heightened colours of the interior reflect my psychological state – a certain, internal giddiness that new surroundings can invoke in one – and the title, “Her Kind”, is borrowed from Anne Sexton’s poem of the same name – a plangent, careening paean to womankind; a wry run-through of the ways womankind has historically been perceived and presented.

– Dua Abbas- “Her Kind”

Selected Works