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Parcours. Images of the Orient
From Meister Francke to Shirin Neshat

28. May to 10. September 2006

 
The way we imagine the ‘Orient’ today stems from a long pictorial tradition in the West. The focus of this thematic tour through the Kunsthalle’s collection are the images of the ‘Orient’ generated by European artists. What soon becomes apparent is that there is no such thing as the image of the Orient. Instead, the paintings, graphic works and video installations on display are expressions of the historical context in which they came about.

In medieval art Evil was depicted not only in terms of terrifying grimaces but also by means of alien costume. In his account of the Passion, for instance, Meister Francke portrayed the henchmen wearing turbans, thereby giving the unbeliever an ‘oriental’ appearance. Netherlandish painters of the 17th century drew on the style of dress worn by traders from Asia Minor visiting their cities as inspiration for their depictions of Old Testament figures. Following Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign in 1798 artists for the first time began travelling more frequently to the countries of Islamic tradition. Yet only rarely do their pictures actually show local reality. Instead they reveal the extent of European fantasies about what was felt to be an exotic world. The tour ends with two video works by contemporary artists Shirin Neshat and Christine de la Garenne that critically examine how the western gaze views the ‘alien, other Orient’.

Curator of the Parcours: Marion Koch

 


 

Meister Francke
Meister Francke
Die Kreuztragung, um 1424/25

Wilfred Vincent Herbert
Wilfred Vincent Herbert
Sarazenen auf dem Vorposten, 1864

Photos: Elke Walford

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