Defying Ornaments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article will discuss works of art produced by Palestinian artists, in which the ornament functions as an intermediary for conveying signs, symbols, messages, and identities. In Muslim tradition, the ornament represented, and visually participated in, establishing the social order, and was also a signifier of a distinct theological, social, dogmatic, and gendered identity. The works at the heart of this article present the ornament as part of an aesthetic and ethical inquiry, a means of reenacting individual and collective history as well as preserving and deconstructing conventions, a method that is both poisonous and a remedy for social hierarchies, fixed identities, and oppressive power relations. I argue that the ornament represented in contemporary Palestinian artworks reflects a destructive or constructive urge, which Mark Wigley describes as an: “elaborate mechanism for concealing and preserving, if not constructing, identity.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022


  • Palestinian art
  • ornament
  • reenactment
  • identity
  • gender


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