Everyday Orientalism

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Cafe La Giralda, SevillaIn my favourite cafe in Sevilla, near the cathedral it is named for, the Cafe Giralda marks its washrooms with reproductions of two paintings, one of a woman, the other of a man, in robes and chains, with signs over their heads in Arabic. One of the woman’s breasts is exposed.

With some image searching on Google, I found the originals. They’re by the Catalan artist Antonio Fabrés y Costa, examples of Orientalism popular in the late 1800’s in Europe. Entitled Ladron and Ladrona (thief), they’re an eroticization of vanquished, enslaved Arabs. The signs over their heads say they are condemned to death for the theft of jewellery, which hangs above them.

It’s my favourite cafe not just because it’s a beautiful space, and is authentically Sevillian, but also because it’s one of the few cafes where I could comfortably go as a woman on my own. Other cafes had a habit of ignoring me when I tried to get a coffee or something to eat. (Maybe they thought I was waiting for a suitable companion?) But then these are in the restaurant, and no one seems to mind.

Cafe La Giralda - Bathrooms

la-giralda-bathrooms-3 Cafe La Giralda - Bathrooms

 

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