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PRINT January 2007

Tala Madani

THERE’S SOMETHING FAMILIAR about these men; if we don’t know them, then we know others like them. Wandering around the house in their undershirts, engaged in ridiculous horseplay, they are our eternally awkward uncles, the boorish family members you hope your friends never meet.

Or no, actually. Such an identification with the situations depicted in Tala Madani’s “Cake-Men” series (begun in 2005; all works referred to here are from 2005) depends on ignoring the constant reminders of their cultural specificity. The first hint might come from pictures within the pictures––portraits of men in turbans (perhaps ayatollahs?) that hang on the walls behind the men in paintings such as Eftar or Kneeling. After those details are noted, however, it suddenly seems obvious that the Iranian-born, American-educated Madani is recollecting the homeland she left in 1995 at the age of fourteen. Her artfully

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