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Orientalism, 170x196cm, 2013

Digital C-Print, 170x196cm, 2013

Covers of 54 editions of Edward Said’s Orientalism in different languages.

Edward Said’s Orientalism is as controversial as it is important. Coining the term that has infiltrated most conversations that deal with an attempt to distinguish between the East and the West, orientalism is at its best a quaint notion, at its worst a contemporary condition that Western journalists suffer from. Using an overarching concept that looks at ways of looking, Vardarman uses the covers of Said’s book to present the stereotypes associated both with Said and Orientalism. As book design is an underappreciated form of classifying and summarizing, how does one “present” Orientalism? Through the images that we expect to see on the cover of Orientalism, new covers and new images emerge of what we remember and think of Orientalism to be.

What would be an apt cover for Orientalism in 2016, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring? What would Said say of Orientalism today? Vardarman’s visual presentation of information simply and astutely pose these questions.

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Istanbul Books, 120x120cm, 2009

Digital C-Print, 120x120cm, 2009

Covers of 1130 books related to Istanbul.

Istanbul refers more to an idea than the reality of the city itself. For each inhabitant, the city represents something different, especially in the aftermath of the city-wide turmoil that has marked the days after the Gezi protests of 2013. By looking at the covers of the books about, related to, and named after the city, the failure of representation becomes more clear: Istanbul is Istanbul, the book will fail to narrate the city, just as the image will fail to represent the city. It is the mosaic of multiple versions of the same story that will perhaps come closer to describing what each Istanbulite essentially knows and feels: Istanbul is a palimpsest, ever-changing.