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Appropriate Art?

April 26, 2013

 

 

 

The work above is Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi’s floor painting for the 10th Sharjah Biennial (United Arab Emirates) titled “Blessing Upon the Land of My Love.” The scene looks like a massacre, with pools of blood pooling around the drain and splattered on the walls. This work was installed for an eight-week program of visual art, film, choreography, music, video and publishing. There is nothing criminal in the art itself, but ignites a discussion of the relationship between context, the Middle East, and pushing boundaries,. Sharjah, where the art is located, is a particular safe-haven for politically-critical work in the region. When I first saw this work, I feared the cultural back-lash of a community not ready to see the message on the wall- that the violence of the Middle East is spreading. Yet, art like this has been protected since the 1980s in Sharjah when the community decided to dive into the contemporary art world, which was unprecedented in the Arab region. Particularly unprecedented, this event encourages the audience to discuss works face to face with artists and the community. What I argue here it that for all art, a level of understanding of context is required because if not, one might take a message that was received well and attempt to make it criminal.

 

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