obvious but most striking features of the exhibit identified as “Jerusalem” in letters five feet high was precisely that virtually the whole of it was a facsimile of a structure built by and for Muslims in the late seventh century. Saint Louis, though, was not the first American city to identify Jerusalem with prominent displays of an Islamic icon. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jerusalem was a city on the move, making its way in a variety of sizes and shapes to a number of major “world’s fairs” across the U.S.A. Zeynep Celik’s Displaying the Orient: The Architecture of Islam at the Nineteenth Century World’s Fairs raises fascinating questions about Euro-American perceptions of the city sacred to all three Abrahamic traditions. One question she raises indirectly is which Jerusalem was at the core of these “pre-contemporary” Euro-American images of that holy city? Why not the Christian Jerusalem represented by the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, or the Jewish Jerusalem of the Western (or “Wailing”) Wall? Why that of the quintessentially Muslim monument? Might it be that centuries of cooptation of that symbol have virtually erased its Islamic asso- ciations in the minds of the countless outsiders
Religion and the Arts – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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