Orientalisms 'R Us
Take a look at the titles of past exhibitions to see the familiar repertory of Orientalist tropes that we employ in our business as usual:
Emerald Cities . . .
The Dragon's Gift: The Sacred Arts . . .
Hidden Treasures . . .
Power and Glory: Court Arts . . .
Drama and Desire . . .
Strange Tales . . .
Princes, Palaces, and Passion . . .
Hidden Meanings . . .
Sights Unseen . . .
A Curious Affair: The Fascinations . . .
Traditions Unbound . . .
Shadows, Masks, and Music . . .
Treasures from the Roof of the World . . .
The Elegant Lotus . . .
Beyond the Painted Smile . . .
Warrior Kings and Divine Jesters . . .
From Monastery to Marketplace . . .
Rearranging the highlighted keywords reveals a world both exotically foreign yet timelessly familiar in appeal:
Aren't all oriental Traditions
Sacred, Elegant, Divine
yet because they remain
they are all the more
Strange, Curious, Fascinating,
alluring you with Tales of
Drama, Power and Glory
Treasures, Dragons, Princes, Warrior Kings,
in faraway places like
Emerald Cities and
the Roof of the World?
And let's not forget the
Passions, Affairs, Desires
Painted Smiles, Lotus Blossoms,
all waiting to be
A harmless trip to a fantasyland of romanticized premodern Otherness, a place where dreams of Manifest Destiny never have to die?
Or a systematic policy of culturalist essentialism which serves to reinforce a racialized narrative of hegemonic conquest,
perpetuating false notions of race, culture, gender and ethnicity in the process?
Let's ask the samurai and find out.