Right after 9/11, a friend of mine and I curated a show that focused on the stereotypes of Islamic cultures by featuring artists/photographers/film makers whose work represented the larger discussions that were taking place during the time. Our show “Body” had a very successful turnout with artists who taught us so much about the misconceptions of Islamic cultures. Although New York/New Jersey is a “melting pot”, there is much segregation and stereotyping within the local communities themselves (even if they look diverse on the outside). Fortunately, I was in the museum field at the time, so the conversations taking place around me (Shirin Neshat being my biggest eye opener) were void of sensationalism – Unlike today’s social media world (the field I am currently in). I have to sift through memes and misinformation on Facebook just to see Neshat’s updates, which just goes to show the state of conversations today and how quickly misinformation can spread. As an art historian, a witness to how art can redirect/shape dialogues and a strong believer that knowledge gives birth to empowerment, I want to share this extraordinary museum initiative called LA / Islam Arts.
Underscoring Los Angeles’s role as one of the epicenters of visual constructions regarding Islam and the Middle East, through architecture, film and its large Middle Eastern and Islamic populations, LA/Islam Arts Initiative will take over Los Angeles from October-December with a series of events including video installations, scholarly symposia, films, concerts, performances, and more. If you live in LA, I strongly encourage being a part of this much-needed museum conversation. The first of these shows are Doris Duke’s Shangri La and Shangri La: Imagined Cities, which are currently on view at Barnsdall. Both shows anchor this highly anticipated initiative and provides a collective overview of contemporary works that produce a multiplicity of worlds, interpretations, and investigations without ignoring the implications of organizing around particular geographic or religious lines. If you want to see the schedule of events, visit LA Islam Arts for more info!
(Doris Duke Earrings and Hand Mirror)