This article focuses on the ways in which the European aesthetic realm becomes a battleground of intercultural and intercivilizational conflicts as well as a domain of borrowings and mixings between “native” and “Islamic” values, thereby creating a transnational public sphere. Through a two-way interpretation of a controversial statue depicting a naked woman with headscarf, entitled Turkish Delight and exhibited in a public garden in front of the Kunsthalle Museum in Vienna in 2007 before it was wrenched from its pedestal and left lying on the ground, the author examines how the artistic scene as an interactive space between art and politics, between cultures and publics, participates in the elaboration of a bond between Muslims and Europeans, a bond not without elements of confrontation and violence. It is argued that while the statue violates the intimacy and piety of a Muslim woman by exposing her nakedness to the public gaze, it also seeks ways to relate to the familiar other, Turkish migrants in Europe, albeit in a provocative manner. The purpose of this analysis is to demonstrate how the public space is not fixed once and for all but is always being recreated anew and inhabited through performativity, conflict and confrontation.
Research Article|November 01 2009
Turkish Delight in Vienna: Art, Islam, and European Public Culture
Cultural Politics (2009) 5 (3): 277-298.