Brian Hartley Sago
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The Delegation
intaglio, 4 x 10"
September 2006

In 1919, King Faisal ibn Husayn of Iraq traveled to Paris to help with negotiations of the Versailles Treaty. He had been appointed a couple years earlier by the British.

“The Delegation” is the second recent in the series analyzing the 1919 changes which led to current Middle East politics. These prints show the visual contrast between Muslim and Parisian cultures just after the turn of the previous century and the cultural collisions as some Muslim leaders struggled to relate to the West as equals.

In "The Delegation" Faisal's caravan has encamped outside Paris, revealing a cultural barrier rather than a physical one.

The sepia plate shows a camel caravan camped outside Paris. Although this is not how Faisal traveled to the Peace Conference, it’s meant to convey the gross disparity in cultures apparent on his arrival. Iraq was a fledgling kingdom essentially invented by the British, but Faisal came from a long line of rich Arab culture. His appearance in France caused quite a stir.

The cadmium red plate is an abstraction of a bridge schematic designed by Turkish architect Raimondo d’Aronco. Along with all the various national changes happening around 1919, the Ottoman empire was essentially dissolved, jumbled into an unstable shape that didn’t settle until 1923. Like Faisal in Iraq, Kemal Atatürk, the new leader in Turkey, would make several awkward steps towards westernizing the nation in the 1920s and 30s; those steps (and the jumbling of cultural values) seem apropos to this day as Turkey struggles to enter the European Union over grievances with their human rights record.


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