Research Proposal

Here is the main bulk of my research proposal for PhD study:

Title: An investigation of contemporary Islamic art practice in Britain and the role of the artist in shaping this art scene

Subject area

The purpose of this research is to highlight current activity in contemporary British Islamic Art and to look closely at the artists who enable its development.

As this particular type of art is not considered ‘mainstream’ it is categorised in a very different manner to other art scenes which affects both perceptions of the art and the choices made by the artists producing it.

There is a strong need to understand how definitions, categorisations and identification of this art is established and used for curatorial purposes as well as artistic development. In the past these issues have been researched and addressed through historical comparisons which do not accommodate the adoption of contemporary practices nor the influences and impacts of new technologies.

Aims

Explore the relationship between artists of Islamic art and artists of Islamic faith. What distinguishes one from the other?

Investigate the extent to which contemporary artistic practices are embraced within the Islamic art scene. Look at uses of new technology in contemporary Islamic Art practice.

Objectives

Clarify definitions of ‘Islamic art’ and more specifically those of ‘contemporary Islamic art’. This will involve understanding how the terms used in these definitions play a role in constructing the categories themselves.

Investigate the role of the artist and that of the curator in presenting the British public with what it terms ‘contemporary Islamic art’. Is this representative of British Islamic culture?

Explore the use of contemporary art practice within British Islamic art. Where do the boundaries merge in regards to traditional and contemporary practice?

Investigate and document the benefits and deterrents to adopting digital practices within contemporary Islamic art. Have digital and new media technologies been utilised in contemporary Islamic art to date?

Design and create an installation that fulfils the notion of contemporary Islamic art using digital practice. Determine the social and historical implications of this kind of work.

Historical and contemporary context

Contemporary Islamic art in Britain is still relatively new. This is largely due to the merging of many cultures which have combined to create the Muslim community in Britain since the influx of Eastern migrants in the early 20th century.

Recognition of this rising community which now forms a large proportion of the British population has also had lasting effects on the art produced from and for the Muslim community.

The nature of this ‘community’ involves cultures from across the globe. The faith of Islam being the common ground, and the faith’s encouragement of multi-culturalism means that the British Islamic Art scene could be making significant contributions to the global Islamic Art scene.

Theoretical context

Tracing developments of Islamic art in Britain from the early 20th century to the present (through reviews, articles and discussions by critics, artists and curators) will form the essence of the research material. This will lead to a better understanding of how British Islamic culture has been represented in Britain thus far.

By looking closely at British Islamic artists we can address questions of whether it is possible to be an Islamic ‘artist of faith’, whilst fulfilling the requirements that exist in both aspects of this title. In addition we can determine ways in which the British Islamic culture affects the output of a British Islamic artist and whether current forms of artistic practice provide a close reflection of the British Islamic culture at present.

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