The power of art to reveal commonalities between seemingly distant sets of beliefs is powerfully displayed in an upcoming exhibit, entitled "Dis[Locating] Culture: Contemporary Islamic Art in America," at the Michael Berger Gallery in Pittsburgh, Penn., and co-curated by Reem Alalusi. "Dis[Locating] Culture" will be the city’s first exhibit of
contemporary Islamic art, and certainly one of the first in America’s Midwest.
Held at a gallery owned by a Jewish American art collector, the show is a direct affront to the binary thinking and exclusionary conclusions, carried across the airwaves by an insistently normalizing, ever vocal talkocracy, that produces mistaken, typecast notions of Islamic art as a mutually incompatible field to that of the Contemporary project.
Though Islamic art is conventionally considered a separate category from Western Art, the artists in "Dis[Locating] Culture" blur the categories and push the boundaries of each. This is neither Islamic nor Western, per se; this is Contemporary Art.
The exhibit breaks down cultural and religious stereotypes by showcasing the finest American Islamic artists -– whether Muslim by faith or not. Some of the nine artists included come from the Islamic world but do not live there; some neither live nor have roots in the so-called Islamic world, and yet their works are classified under the Islamic
umbrella as a result of their political, social, or even technical choices. Artists such as Iranian-born Shoja Azari, Californian Sandow Birk and Bangladesh-native Anoka Faruqee are among the top-notch lineup assembled for the show.
By exploring contemporary Islamic art’s borders and boundaries -– whether religious, cultural or social -– and asking participants which are to be respected and which disrupted and dislocated, the exhibit and symposium aim to upend the conventional narrative of civilizational collision in favor of the dialogue of collusion.
WHAT: Dis[Locating] Culture: Contemporary Islamic Art in America, running April 15 to July 30. Opening Friday, April 15, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Michael Berger Gallery, 30 South 6th Street, Pittsburgh, PA. 15203.
WHEN: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Open Friday, April 15 until 7:30 p.m.
Also, Dis[Locating] Culture: The Symposium, April 16. The symposium will include a
panel of artists, critics, and scholars, as well as a keynote address by Dr. Reza Aslan,
best-selling author and international scholar of religion.
WHERE: The Warhol Museum, 117 Sandusky Street, Pittsburgh, Penn. 15203.
WHEN: 1 p.m to 4 p.m., with reception to follow.