Visual arts: Orientalism & Imperialism: Veiled, Unveiled and Reviled

12 July 2018

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10 – 24 August @ Spectrum Project Space ·
Presented by Aasiya Evans ·

Opening Friday, 10 August, 6 – 8pm
Runs 11 – 24 August Tues – Fri 10am – 5pm; Sat 12 – 5pm

Edith Cowan University’s (ECU) Spectrum Project Space presents solo exhibition Orientalism & Imperialism: Veiled, Unveiled and Reviled by South African born artist Aasiya Evans. Her solo exhibition through digital engagement creates a unique dramaturgy in navigating the Oriental/Occidental dialogue through a racial discourse of Othering.

The Arabian Nights, The Thousand and One Nights, popular novella as an archetypal case study assists as a default background for Orientalism & Imperialism: Veiled, Unveiled and Reviled that addresses the importance of this text’s cultural continuity in perpetuating stereotypes and misinformation in the present day. Furthermore, it draws parallels with current events in similitude with how Arab Muslims are portrayed not only within contemporary Australian society but globally embedded within our social political entertainment network.

Through her praxis Evans tackles these mythic culturally coded anxieties of Islamophillia and Islamophobia to exhibit a comprehensive analysis of markers, signs and symbols that eventuate in dehumanising and desubjectifying the Arab, that have been tattooed on the Islamic character.

Evans’ artwork inspired by medieval wall hangings and Persianate carpet designs parlay in-betwixt and in-between eastern and western art and culture. Through replications of both familiar leitmotifs and geometric patterns harnessing the idea of the Islamic carpet as a canvas her work takes on these concepts through the use of allegory by conveying hidden messages through symbolic imagery. Evans’ artwork opens up a serious discourse of the Oriental/Occidental processes manifesting from the split of the in-betwixt and in-between, real and unreal, propagandist and political art, veiling and unveiling, war and spirituality by ambivalently unifying binate polarities of inclusion and exclusion, through art and culture.

Evans’ designs are the extent of the impact of western interventions felt through the Islamic cultural practice and how hegemonic aesthetics of the stereo-terror-type that combined with popular fairy tale fiction negates a critical engagement of unchallenged western Imperial historical fact found in fiction, and patented through a post 9/11 atmosphere and evidenced in our popular media culture.

The exhibition maintains an emphasis of the unheimlich as a reference to the state of unease coming from the artists’ lifeworld. Orientalism & Imperialism: Veiled, Unveiled and Reviled emulates a reflexive psychological connection to an Apartheid relationship in association to her childhood diaspora, its resurrection in her current life in Australia definable in her design and digital series. Evans’ aim through visual digital imagery is to demonstrate “the extremity of colonial alienation of the person as, the end of an ‘idea’ of the individual (…)” (Bhabha, 2012, p. 41).

Orientalism & Imperialism: Veiled, Unveiled and Reviled will be officially opened by Dr. Nicola Kaye on Friday, 10 August at 6:00pm. The exhibition is open to the public from Saturday, 11 August to Friday, 24 August at Spectrum Project Space, Mount Lawley Campus, Edith Cowan University.

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Pictured: Details from ‘The Plague’, Aasiya Evans. Courtesy of the artist.

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