Susan Hefuna


From the Greek βιβλιοθήκη, meaning library. “Traditionally, collection of books used for reading or study, or the building or room in which such a collection is kept.”

From the Greek φιλία, meaning friendship. A suffix meaning “friendly feeling toward,[…] tendency toward, […or] abnormal appetite or liking for.”

Susan Hefuna’s mashrabiyas isolate the interstitial space between public and private life that libraries so often occupy. Historically, mashrabiyas, large-scale carved wooden screens, were placed in windows to allow air to circulate. Hefuna became interested in the way that they allowed women to view the outside world while being shielded from the public eye: “You see life outside the room, hear the cars and feel the hectic pace of the city — but you yourself are in calm surroundings, so it’s therefore very meditative.” Dyed with ink, the patterns of Hefuna’s large-scale screens are woven with spare words and phrases, with past and present resonances with which viewers are called to engage.

for more information visit
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art