Oriental-ism is an art related term referring to the depiction of near eastern artists by western artists particularly in the 19th century. Images of the life, history and topography of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and sometimes modern Greece, the Crimea, Albania and the Sudan constitute the field of Oriental-ism. An artist would not have had to journey to the Near East to be labeled or stereotyped an Orientalist, but their works must have some suggestion of topographic or ethnographic accuracy.
From the Assemblage article:
A major stereotype that came out of the Worlds fair in France in 1886 is the danse du ventre. An enactment of the eroticized mystique of the Orient, the belly dance could be described as a myth of Islamic culture.
France of course was in a position of power being the host nation. They became the controlling observer, and as such felt they could speak for or represent the smaller or “silenced” groups. Power associated with The Other, The Voice, and The Gaze.
Because it was the “Worlds Fair” they rationalized their position of power, economics and politics without thinking about the long term effects of their oppression.
questions: Is cultural authenticity an illusion in the age of mass communication? Does exoticism - and its projection of a pseudo distance - collapse when obsessively repeated and reenacted?
These Expositions would summarize the entire human experience...the past , the present, and what the future held. So they had carte blanche when it came to ranking, rationalizing, and objectifying. As a result this hierarchy and its host committees could portray a world of races, sexes, and nations the way they wished. Cultural expression would then become common knowledge.
This was much more powerful than reading about it in any journal or piece of literature as the fair gave you a lesson for all of your senses...physical, visual, and...