Skip to content

Historian Marina Warner on the Arabesque in Art & Design History


About the Program

The arabesque in aesthetics describes the branching interlace chiefly found in Islamic art, and has acquired slightly pejorative connotations, as purely decorative on the one hand, and orientalizing and condescending on the other. The word was later borrowed into the world of dance to evoke a certain graceful and extreme extension of the limbs. Next in the series of programs surrounding Kamrooz Aram’s exhibition in the galleries, we hear from British scholar Marina Warner, an author of fiction and cultural history. Warner explores the history of the term’s changing meaning and considers its potential as a site of consciousness well suited to the digital age. Could the arabesque offer an alternative structuring principle of time and space in our troubled times?