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DEPARTURES

A Photographic Journey Through the Islamic World

Friday 12 April – Friday 3 May 2019

Opening hours: 10:00–18:00, Monday–Sunday (closes 19–22 April)

Free admission

Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street London W1G 7LP

Drawing upon a unique collection of historical photographs and postcards, Departures will reveal the great diversity of the Islamic world’s social and cultural life. The exhibition will explore a geographical area from Morocco in the West to China in the East, and from the Balkans in the North to Sudan in the South. Historical photographs from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century will be shown alongside a selection of contemporary images from amateur photographers on Instagram.

Organised by Asia House and The Barakat Trust, and curated by Tarik Alireza and Richard Wilding, Departures will highlight the rich heritage of this region, exploring its ancient urban centres such as Cairo, Istanbul and Damascus, its traditions of travel, trade and artisanship, and its varied styles of costume and architecture. The exhibition is both a celebration of this historical diversity, and a reminder of what has been lost or weakened by cultural destruction, social change and political upheaval.

The title Departures defines the exhibition as a journey of discovery beyond the narrow stereotypes of the region as sectarian, war torn and culturally bereft. It also reflects the eager, observing eyes of travellers who have questioned, courted, and recorded the Islamic world from the earliest days of photography. These images are the fruit of travel and enquiry, made increasingly possible by ships and railways, then the jet engine, television and internet. Yet this exhibition will also suggest that, despite the advent of these improved forms of travel and communication, the Islamic world has become increasingly alien and misunderstood in the West.

Juxtaposed with the exhibition’s historical photographs will be a mosaic of the Islamic world today seen through a curated sequence of images from the social media platform Instagram. These images, taken by talented amateur photographers, will reveal dynamic and diverse cultures – places where a multitude of people live a myriad of ordinary lives.

This remarkable insight into the Islamic world will encourage its audience to discover icons of antiquity and fleeting moments of the mundane. The exhibition aims to be a dialogue between past and present, between the diverse cultures and traditions that make up the Islamic world, and between the Islamic world and the West.

A series of associated talks and guided visits have been organised by Asia House and The Barakat Trust to accompany the exhibition.

Fez, Morocco. Postcard, caption: ‘Dans les rues mystérieuses’, photographer ‘Flandrin’, date unknown

Suez, Egypt. Postcard, caption: ‘Fête arabe à Suez’, photographer and date unknown.

Uzbekistan. Photographic print in album, photographer and date unknown.

Departures Exhibition: Free Curator’s Tours

#DeparturesExhibition

Join curator Richard Wilding in a unique and bespoke tour of Asia House Barakat Trust exhibition Departures: A Photographic Journey Through the Islamic World (12 April – 3 May 2019). Tours run on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 12 am, they are free but RSVP is required.

The Curator’s Tours are on these days:

  • Saturday 13 April 12:00-12:45
  • Wednesday 17 April 12:00-12:45
  • Wednesday 24 April 12:00-12:45
  • Saturday 27 April 12:00-12:45
  • Wednesday 1 May 12:00-12:45

The exhibition tour will reveal a showcase that demonstrates the great diversity of the Islamic world’s social and cultural life. The exhibition will explore a geographical area from Morocco in the West to China in the East, and from the Balkans in the North to Sudan in the South. Historical photographs from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century will be shown alongside a selection of contemporary images from amateur photographers on Instagram.

This event is part of the series Converging Paths, a year-long series of events curated for 2019, and organised in partnership by Asia House and The Barakat Trust. With this series we aim to engage audiences in challenging cultural misconceptions about the Islamic world, building bridges between communities and highlighting the importance of the arts of that region. We aim to provide wider access, combining digital platforms and curated cultural programmes that appeal to adults and families.

Please note spaces are limited. Click here to book a ticket!

Bosnia Postcard, publisher J. Studnička & Co., Sarajevo, date unknown.

Iran. Postcard, caption: ‘Persian lady in home dress’, publisher Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, date unknown.

Aden, Yemen. Postcard, caption: ‘Windmills at Salt works, Aden’, photographer ‘Mr. A. Abassi, V. Photographic Studio, Aden’, date unknown.

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