Tufts University Art Gallery presents Empire and Its Discontents

Tufts University Art Gallery presents Empire and Its Discontents

Tufts University Art Galleries

October 8, 2008
Tufts University Art Gallery presents Empire and Its Discontents

Tufts University Art Gallery
at the Aidekman Arts Center
40R Talbot Avenue
Medford, MA 02155
[email protected]


The Tufts University Art Gallery, located four miles north of Boston, has organized Empire and Its Discontents as a tribute to the influential post-colonial theorist, comparative literature scholar, and Palestinian rights activist Edward Said (1935-2003) on the 30th anniversary of the publication of his watershed book Orientalism (1978). Since its publication, two generations of artists have come of age. This exhibition explores Said’s legacy in the work of ten emerging artists (most of whom were born in the 1970s or 1980s) who have familial and other ties to the “imagined geographies” Said identified as the Orient. Although Said did not explicitly include Iran, India, or Pakistan, Empire and Its Discontents includes these countries as well as North Africa, the Middle East, and Hong Kong.

Orientalism and subsequent publications by Said have given artists and other cultural practitioners permission to question and critique the gap between representation and lived experience, between official and unofficial histories, between the embrace of cosmopolitanism as an ideal and the disconcerting reality of moving among, and living in, different cultures. The artists in this exhibition explore all of these tensions in funny, serious, witty, and provocative ways.

Kamrooz Aram’s nocturnal landscape painting and drawings of revolutionary leaders are politically engaged and aesthetically ambivalent about the notion of beauty.

Andisheh Avini’s prints, paintings, and marquetry sculptures visualize the effects of cultural exchange by combining disjunctive cultural signifiers.

Lara Baladi’s photographic series ruminates on what she calls the “post-apocalyptic state” of Egypt during the more than 25-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

Zoulikha Bouabdellah’s video layers disjunctive strains of imagery and sound to create a disquieting meditation on the conflation of cultures, religions, and geographies.

Farhad Moshiri and Shirin Aliabadi’s series of brash photographic prints re-present recognizable commodities and posit these commodities as signifiers of the global economy.

Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung’s digital montages, composed of imagery from the Internet, take on big issues like the 2008 U.S. Presidential election and global warming.

Marjane Satrapi is known for her two-part coming-of-age graphic novels, Persepolis: The Story of A Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of A Return, and the animated film version of these books.

Seher Shah’s series of giclée prints offer dense, layered “reconstructions” of pop imagery, travel photography, colonial imagery, media images, and hand-drawn imagery.

Mark Shetabi’s installation grapples with his desire to represent, and hence to master, his innocent, childhood memories and to put them into some larger, political context.

Saira Wasim ingeniously subverts Mughal miniature painting to depict contemporary world politics as a stage on which actors are engaged in epic struggles frozen in time.

A fully illustrated, 72-page color catalogue with preface and short essays on each artist by Amy Schlegel and a feature essay by Rhonda Saad accompanies the exhibition. The publication will be distributed by D.A.P. beginning spring 2009.

All events are free and open to the public:
October 15, 7:30pm: Screening of Persepolis
October 17, 12:30-1:15pm: Guided Tour
October 18, 1:30-2:30pm & 3-4pm: Voice Your Vision! Tours
October 30, 6-8pm: Orientalism, Then and Now, panel moderated by Eva Hoffman
November 5, 5pm: Lecture with Mohammed Alwan, Lecturer in Arabic

Contact: Jeanne Koles
(press & tour inquiries)

For more information go to: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gallery

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October 8, 2008

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