Orientalism and Ephemera
October 23, 2008
By Stacey Ho
Jamelie Hassan has been in conversation with Edward Said for quite sometime. Said’s pivotal 1979 publication, Orientalism, examined and challenged inscribed Western notions of the exotic Far East. Thirty years later, though the standard is to claim an acceptance of all cultures, this East/West binary remains. One particularly relevant example in North America is how the Middle East still figures as a foreboding singular body, full of religious fanatics, terrorists.
“A lot of the stereotypes are operating in the present tense,” says Hassan. “They allow us to invade their countries and destroy every aspect of their culture. If we look at the history of Afghanistan, one needs to revisit [Orientalism], actually read the book and become familiar with the text from different vantage points and different bodies of knowledge. This has filtered in so many ways into our social context.”
However, despite Orientalism‘s wide social scope, Hassan’s relationship to the text is personal, having read the book early on. The exhibition Orientalism and Ephemera is an idiosyncratic acknowledgment of Said’s influence on Hassan’s thinking, one that expands and contracts according to the exhibition space and the developing dialog between artists, viewers and Hassan herself.
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