Sunday, November 23, 2008

Occidentalism : the other face of Orientalism

In Beirut, two galleries run an exhibition of art works by the well-known Lebanese film director Jocelyne Saab. In the first one, called Soft Architecture, pictures of abstract patterns taken from the local traditions are displayed at the Agial gallery. In the second one, Sense, Icons and Sensitivity, the artist uses neo-pop art icons objects of mass production and of popular culture like Barbie dolls to express the hidden thinking of Arab society towards changes in cultural taste and habits due to globalization.

Some of those last works have been deemed unsuitable by Solidere, the company which which owns the venue where the exhibition opened. Among the most controversial pictures was a photo entitled "American-Israeli playground" where Christ is on a crucifix surrounded by images of Nasrallah and two Barbie dolls in the background. “French Can Can in Bagdad,” with Barbie dolls wrapped in Iraqi currency bearing the image of former dictator Saddam Hussein has not been very much welcomed too!

Even if the Agial gallery has agreed to host, not in a too noticeable place, the pictures expressing “the popular anger in the face of Israeli-Lebanese conflict,” Jocelyne Saab’s last exhibition shows how politics and religion remain two very sensitive issues.

As usual, links to articles in Arabic or English with the more developed post in French.

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