Week 6: Debate over “Islamic” Art

Filed under: Uncategorized — fatimashahbaz at 8:35 pm on Tuesday, October 22, 2019

 

 

This week in class, we discussed the symbolism of art in mosques and diversity of mosques throughout the world, watched a documentary that outlined the diversity of art in the Islamic world and┬ádebated the origin of the concept of “Islamic” art in section.

While watching the film, I struggled with the concept of an “Islamic world” at all, particularly when they discussed the difference between the world’s “Islamic” art and “secular” art, because presumably if such a world existed, all the art in it could be considered Islamic to some degree. A similar complexity arrived in our debate in our weekly section, where we unpacked the opposing viewpoints of Necipoglu and Nasr on ┬ásignificance of Islamic decor. Necipoglu asserts that there is no such thing as “Islamic” art, and that the arabesque, or repeating geometric pattern, that adorns is simply secular art that has been exoticized by the Western world, and subsequently, by the Arab world. Essentially, she argues that we cannot ascribe intent onto art that was meant to be purely decorative, especially because we cannot associate a singular artistic form with Islam. Nasr, on the other hand, stated that arabesque art is specifically Islamic because of its devotional nature, a notion that most of our class agreed with.

A question I had throughout this discussion was–what came first? Was it that arabesque art came first and then was ascribed an Islamic value after it was popularized and “orientalized” by the West, or was it that the initial artists created the art with devotion and Islam in mind and then it became popularized? In order to encapsulate the age old conundrum of what came first, I decided to depict it in an arabesque chicken in an egg. By placing the chicken IN the egg, I hope to depict the fact that we really truly can never know which came first, but a hope that we can continue to appreciate the artistic nature of Islam regardless,

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