Thursday, March 14, 2013

Reassessing Western-centrism of knowledge in modern era

A special section ‘Re:emerge, Towards a New Cultural Cartography’, which forms part of Sharjah Biennial 11, has been inspired by the captivating courtyard in Islamic architecture, especially those of Sharjah, looks to reassess the Western-centrism of knowledge in modern era and to reconsider the relationship existing between the Far East, North Africa, Latin America, the Arab world and through Asia.

A Western perspective for long dominated the globalization debate. However, the work of scholars such as Andre Gunder Frank over the years has challenged this peculiar normative approach. In ‘ReOrient’, the expert points to the transnational relations history that thrived across and between the whole Arab world and Asia (8th-15th century). Apart from stimulating economic exchange and further development, the Silk Road vastly reshaped our cultures. Illuminating these shared historical roots in today’s context lets us re-orientate ourselves, and to reexamine the historically significant cultural and geopolitical role of the Arabian Peninsula.

The curator, Yuko Hasegawa, states in an elaborate note: “The long and rich cultural traditions of the Arab world, North Africa, India and Asia manifest themselves through various practices and customs from song and dance, to poetry and music, daily etiquette, architectural patterns, the shapes of spaces and the contours of gardens. The same can be said of South America, where the influence of pre-colonial practices and the vibrant culture of the Amazon can still be detected.

Hasegawa has invited creative personalities from Lebanon, Belgium, Japan, Spain, India, and elsewhere to make temporary architectural interventions to help envision new urban structures, which connect Sharjah’s historic area and its courtyard typology with the larger city. By employing it as a main concept in charting a new cultural cartography, the curator sees the potential for a deeper, more meaningful collaboration between South America and the Arab world.

The broader purpose of the art showcase, as stated above, is to carefully reassess and relocate Western-centrism of knowledge in modern era. 

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