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The British Council And Sharjah Art Museum Host Public Debate On ’Orientalism Revisited’

The British Council and Sharjah Art Museum hosted a public debate on contemporary cultural issues as part of Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting 1830-1925 exhibition organised by Tate Britain in partnership with the Pera Museum “ Istanbul, Sharjah Art Museum“ UAE, and the British Council.

The debate on ’Orientalism Revisited’ was an attempt at representing Arab cultures through Western eyes and Western cultures through Arab eyes.The debate served as an opportunity to discuss about the shared history including areas of bonding as well as conflicts covering all cultural aspects of the relations between the West and the Middle East.

It also provided a platform for interactive intercultural dialogue by opening up a field of thought from anyone interested in the interconnections between art, identity, and representation in the Arab World, tracing as far back from the nineteenth century to the present.

Manal Ataya, Director General, Sharjah Museums Department, said: "Sharjah Museums Department is focused on promoting culture and arts and we have realized a big part of our goal. We have launched several exhibitions and cultural initiatives that have been appreciated regionally and internationally. The debate is aimed at further strengthening public participation and discussing issues that are central to art and life. We believe that art plays a vital role in bridging the gap between cultures as well as in promoting cultural relations globally," added Ataya.

Michel Bechara, Director of Projects, British Council UAE, said: "This important exhibition provided us with a unique opportunity for a frank discussion about our shared history including areas of connection and conflict. The debate covered cultural aspects of the relationship between the West and the Middle East, from the role of art in shaping public perceptions, the responsibility of the artist in a global society, and the relationship between creativity and national identity."

Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting 1830-1925 was first shown in the US, and then London. The UK press was widely appreciative, commenting that the exhibition managed to balance the claims of art and politics in a uniquely sensitive manner (Jonathan Jones, The Independent).

The exhibition was then toured by the British Council to the Pera Foundation, Istanbul; the first time that an exhibition of this scale and importance from Tate Britain has been shown in Turkey. Sharjah Art Museum will be the final showing of the exhibition, at a prestigious venue that has led the field in cultural development for the region.

For more information on British Council, please visit the website, and for more information on Sharjah Art Museum, please visit the website

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