Islamic Project

In 1996, AES+F launched "Travel Agency to the Future: Islamic Project" - a conceptual art piece that not only catapulted the artist collective to prominence but gained in controversy after 9/11. Images of famous landmarks and tourist destinations were digitally altered to look as if taken over by a radical and backward form of Islamic culture. In conjunction, AES+F set up a travel office where souvenir items were sold with these images printed on them, and where visitors could "plan" a fictional holiday into the depicted world.

The work was a commentary on Western Islamophobia and in particular referenced Samuel Huntington's popular political paradigm of the "Clash of Civilisations", 1993, in which the author argues that future front lines in history would be between cultures, not states - in particular between the West and cultures following Islam. The digitally altered images became a representation of the absurdity of theories like those set forth by "The Clash of Civilisations", in particular the perceived dichotomy between the West and Islam (between the image of modernity, innovation and science opposed to tradition, aggression and backwardness).

"Islamic Project" gained in controversy after 9/11 where previously existing stereotypes became enforced with a Western public, and yet were deemed politically incorrect. Some of the images were abused to propagate theories like "The Clash of Civilisations" and worse, while AES+F's work was often misunderstood as discriminatory towards Islam itself.

The images here chosen by AES+F for s[edition] could not be more indicative of the time we live in, and more representative of the the political power an image holds as such - especially one that is digitally transmittable in a global world.

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