Sara Raza: Punk Orientalism: The Art of Rebellion
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Punk Orientalism: The Art of Rebellion explores the spaces and places associated with the former Soviet Union, focusing on the artists and ideas hailing from Central Asia and the Caucasus, which were long perceived as an extension or “client” states of the USSR. The theme of non-conformity and the punk rejection of state authority is a continuous thread throughout the book, which highlights changing and divided societies and their evolving norms in the post-Soviet period.
Inspired by the titular concepts, punk and orientalism, the text functions as a form of bricolage, uniting punk movements and strategies, which can be traced in popular visual culture from the 1970s onwards. The idea of punk is coupled with a critical study of orientalism and its historical association with imperialist assumptions of knowledge concerning the East. Punk Orientalism expands its association with this territory to explore former Soviet possessions in Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as looking at the USSR’s complex relationship with the Arab world, Iran and Turkey.
Thematically organised, Punk Orientalism presents a thoroughly researched and fascinating selection of contemporary art from a complex and multifaceted part of the globe, featuring diverse artists such as Lida Abdul, Babi Badalov, Ergin Çavusoglu, Taus Makhacheva and Erbossyn Meldibekov who have challenged state and academic policies, mapped new territories, and formed new artistic movements. Punk Orientalism examines history as a conduit for revisionist thinking and rebellion, appealing to those readers interested in revolutionary practices in contemporary art. This thought-provoking book highlights breaking free from the entrapment of imperialism and shines a light on one of the most under-researched regions in the contemporary art world.