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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/23144

Title: Orientalism Revisited: an artistic redefinition of the Orientalist imagery (case study: Istanbul)
Authors: Swerts, Carla
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: DAKAM Publishers
Citation: Öztürk, Barış (Ed.). HISTART '15 / III. History of Art Conference Proceedings, DAKAM Publishers,p. 114-124
Abstract: In the nineteenth century, the Orient – in my research the Orient is limited to Middle Eastern countries – attracted a considerable number of writers and painters, and eventually it became an immensely popular artistic destination. Several societal and cultural factors explain the attraction of Orientalism in this period. In the eyes of both the painters and their public, the Orient was a means to break loose from the rigid Western morality, an exciting escapism. Nowadays, however, the genre seems to have become completely obsolete as an artistic practice, due to some extent to Edward Said's publication of Orientalism in 1978. Even though his criticism of the Western image of the Orient has been toned down, it is difficult to dissociate Orientalism as an artistic movement from its pejorative connotation with Western imperialism. The contemporary Western art world is reluctant to consider the Orient as an artistic subject. Trying to dissociate Orientalism and its connotation with Western imperialism remains a difficult and delicate matter. Moreover, the current political instability and Western uneasiness towards Islamic culture only complicate the situation. In addition to these ideological reasons, formal elements are responsible for the decline of interest in Orientalist art as well. The iconography of the nineteenth-century Orientalist painters is characterised by exotic fantasies expressed in exuberant colours, resulting in stereotypical images. The power of the Orient as an artistic subject does not reside in creating a twenty-first century sequel to this imagery, but in representing the Orient through sensory impressions based on the perceptions of the artist. In my PhD research I redefine the exuberant Oriental imagery and restore the Orient as a source of inspiration for artistic experiment. In this paper I will present both the general background of my PhD research as I mentioned above, and a specific case study of my artistic research. I am currently working on an artistic project in which I investigate to what extent Istanbul still has the power to enchant foreign artists like it did in the past. Firstly, I examined literary fragments from writers who visited Istanbul in the nineteenth century (Edmondo de Amicis, Gérard de Nerval, …), and took a close look at artworks from Orientalist artists that drew inspiration from the city (Antoine Ignace Melling, Jean-Léon Gérôme, …). Secondly, I lived in Istanbul for several months and collected my own Istanbul-archive, consisting of photos, drawings, textual fragments and videos. Finally, I engage in a dialogue between my own work and the texts and images from the past.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/23144
ISBN: 9786059207089
Category: C1
Type: Proceedings Paper
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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