Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
For the Intercultural Relations course I have been reading a lot about representations of culture, the I and the other and believe me, I do not want to get into this here. However, I can’t escape the fact that I very much enjoy the topic and some of the readings, especially the ones focused on the complexity of representation. Some parts of Lipstick Jihad caught my attention due to the open criticism on Iranian artists working in Western countries and their simplistic views on Iranian culture. The author says that there is no point (for her) attending exhibitions or performances that depict a wrong image of Iran and its culture. I relate her position to some of my previous experiences. I am not an expert but as far as I can remember middle east art was around war, veils and dark images of reality. I am sure that is not all there is…
Now I am reading Persepolis ( a work that deconstructs (pre)conceptions about Iran) and I thought this project has exactly the same intention. Furthermore, it also relates to my previous post on the social and political issues of funding as it is a kickstarter project, solely based on private funding.
Delfina Foundation in London is not another organization trying to bring Arab artist to talk about what West wants to see about East, instead they want to produce an exhibition deeply based on documentation and history of Arab performance.
In my opinion I think they should have narrowed the project a little bit more as it is extremely difficult to bring so many different cultures into one narrative. However, I defend that this can be the right way to engage in a conversation about performance in the Arab world. Ultimately, the best way to know the “other” is to investigate deeper its history. Instead of working with two or three big names represented by western art galleries they are giving voice to different artists with different artistic languages in an historical retrospective. As future arts programers I think we should carefully consider what do we want to say about the other as it will say a lot about “ourselves”.
Joumana Emil Abboud, The Diver, 2004–05, still from a four-minute video with audio narration.