Instytut Historii Sztuki <Posen> [Hrsg.]
Artium Quaestiones — 21.2010

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implementation of certain binary opposition (including centre/periphery,
West/East, civilized /savage etc.) coined in the Western academia by
Orientalists to describe exotic cultures They argue that intellectual
and artistic activity of Asian (and other non-European) countries should
be perceived in a much complex manner than these binary oppositions
can allow i.e., as interacting and transferring each otherds
Following Clark and Bhabha's assumptions on the subject of cultural
relations between Euramerican and non-Western countries, I emphasise
the boldness of Iranian art in changing the form and function of artistic
Solutions borrowed from the foreign milieu. Such an approach, of course,
does not amount to denying that the Iranian art of the twentieth century
owe much to Euramerican art. Quite the opposite; I concentrate on ele-
ments that seem to be borrowed from the West. In doing so, however,
I am morę interested in answering the ąuestions of what was the role of
these transfers in contemporary Iranian art, rather than simply indicat-
ing a conveyance of Western subject matters, art movements, and styles
into extrinsic, "exotic" grounds.
Referring to Bhabha's concept of "hybridity and mimicry", I demon-
strate that the visual language originating from Euramerican art, in some
respects was artiticially imposed on Iranian artists (e.g., by Western or
Western-like art education)!^, eventually turned against the West - i.e.,
it was harnessed to Islamie anti-Western political propaganda.

cording to this scholar, "hybridity" and "mimicry" are highly sophisticated strategies of
colonial control and dominance: elements of Western cultures (including of course the
realm of visual representations) applied to colonized countries were aimed to create a ca-
tegory of obedient people. Paradoxically, however, these artiticially imposed cultural com-
ponents tended to serve as a mean of resistance to Western dominance. See H. K. Bhabha,
TAg Locchio7r o/ CzktMre (London: Routledge 1994), especially chapter 'Of Mimicry and
Man: The ambivalence of colonial discourse' pp. 85-92. The Polish translation of this part
of TAe LocaAion o/CWtMre have appeared recently in the journal LifgroAMrn śuAgcfg, see
H.K. Bhabha, 'Mimikra i ludzie: O dwuznaczności dyskursu kolonialnego' (trans. T. Do-
brogoszcz), LitgratMra 7ra ŚŁciecie, 1-2 2008, pp. 184-195.
is These binary oppositions, with the first term of the pair dominating the second,
create a subtle camoutlage for the actual signiticance of writing on "exotic cultures" owing
to their alleged neutrality, even though there are political and economic implications to
these concepts, see J. Clark, op.cit., p. 11 ff.
16 J. Clark, op.cit., especially pp. 12-16. These (and many other) postcolonial revisions
to writing on non-Western art have been recently morę thoroughly discussed in Piotr Pio-
trowski^ article 'O horyzontalnej historii sztuki' ['On horizontal art history']. Unlike pre-
existing Polish publications on postcolonial theories, occupied mainly with literary criti-
cism, it deals (in fact for a first time in Poland) with postcolonial implications to art histo-
ryk theory and practice, see P. Piotrowski, 'O horyzontalnej historii sztuki', ArbAm Q^aes-
tio/rgs, 20 2009, pp. 59-73.
ii See also J. Clark, op.cit., pp. 15 and 49 ff.
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