Word Into Art

by Porter, Venetia

The exhibition and accompanying book highlight the contemporary art of the Middle East. The works selected which come largely from the collection of the British Museum are published here for the first time. They reflect issues of identity and politics and the rich artistic heritage of the region. One of the underlying themes is various artists’ engagement with Arabic as script and language. For some this resonates with the sacred tradition of Islam and Qur’an. For others the Arabic script, whatever their language, is an inalienable part of their inheritance, influencing their identity as artists and intellectuals. The exhibition will demonstrate the variety and power of the ways in which artists of the Middle East have sought to express subjective and political truths through a medium that they themselves have transformed. In doing so they have created new genres owing much to international artistic schools of the 20th and 21st centuries but unmistakably informed by views of their own artistic traditions. The book, like the exhibition, will look at these works under the following headings: Sacred Script; Art Calligraphy; Artists and Poets; Deconstructing the Word; and Politics and Identity. It will explain the context of the works and provide translations of texts where appropriate.