Until now, Orientalist art-exemplified by paintings of harems, slave
markets or bazaars-has predominantly been understood to reflect Western
interpretations and to perpetuate reductive, often demeaning stereotypes of the
exotic East. Orientalism's Interlocutors contests the idea that
Orientalist art simply expresses the politics of Western domination and argues
instead that it was often produced through cross-cultural interactions. Focusing
on paintings and other representations of North African and Ottoman cultures, by
both local artists and Westerners, the contributors contend that the stylistic
similarities between indigenous and Western Orientalist art mask profound
interpretive differences, which, upon examination, can reveal a visual language
of resistance to colonization. The essays also demonstrate how marginalized
voices and viewpoints-especially women's-within Western Orientalism decentered
and destabilized colonial authority.
Looking at the political significance of cross-cultural encounters refracted through the visual languages of Orientalism, the contributors engage with pressing recent debates about indigenous agency, postcolonial identity, and gendered subjectivities. The very range of artists, styles, and forms discussed in this collection broadens contemporary understandings of Orientalist art. Among the artists considered are the Algerian painters Azouoau Mammeri and Mohammed Racim; Turkish painter Osman Hamdi Bey; British landscape painter Barbara Bodichon; and the French painter Henri Regnault. From the liminal "Third Space" created by mosques in postcolonial Britain to the ways nineteenth-century harem women negotiated their portraits by British artists, the essays in this collection force a rethinking of the Orientalist canon.
This innovative volume will appeal to those
interested in art history, theories of gender, and postcolonial studies.