The complicated legacy of Orientalist art will be the focus of a town-hall-style event hosted by Qatar Foundation’s Doha Debates in collaboration with Lusail Museum and VCUarts Qatar. The event will take place on November 14 at 7pm at VCUarts Qatar.
“Orientalism Demystified: Eastern Insights on Western Myths” will explore how Orientalist art has shaped Western perceptions of Arab and Asian identities, how 19th-century Orientalist stereotypes are still reflected in modern media and cultural narratives, and how museums should present and explore Orientalist works in their collections.
An onstage audience of students and young adults will share their perspectives on these issues in a discussion guided by three experts in the field: Kholood al-Fahad, a writer, researcher, and the deputy director of curatorial affairs at the Lusail Museum; Fatima Bhutto, a Pakistani journalist, author and commentator; and Inaya Folarin Iman, a broadcast journalist, commentator and trustee of the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Dena Takruri, a Palestinian American author and a journalist with AJ+, will moderate the conversation.
“There are so many complex questions surrounding Orientalism’s impact on identity, culture, and politics. At a time when understanding between the so-called East and West seems to be at a low point, we’re excited to engage in a productive town hall at VCUarts Qatar,” said Amjad Atallah, managing director of Doha Debates.
Dr Radha Dalal, associate professor and director of Art History at VCUArts Qatar, added: “Orientalist perspectives have for long negatively coloured Western perceptions of Middle Eastern peoples and ways of life. The impact can still be felt in today’s discourse surrounding art, food, music, and other forms of cultural expression. This town hall is a timely opportunity for students to debate interpretations of Orientalist art and their contemporary resonances given the current geopolitical climate.”