June 24, at the NEH Institute, the discussion focused on Central Asia. The chief presenter was the Director of the Program on Central Asia Caucasus from Harvard John Schoeberlein. Having shown many fascinating maps, the presenter outlined the history of both the area and the discipline in his two-hour talk. So what’s with Central Asia? There seems to be an explosion of Central Asian studies on American campuses. Muslim countries are on everyone’s minds and the interest in and concern with this part of the world are at their historical high. Pr. Schoeberlein showed one photo of a heavily veiled and clothed woman that we displayed in our “Lost Empire” exhibition of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs, saying that such heavy veiling could be in fact a sign of status. Most women did not wear a ‘parandzha’, because no one cared if they were seen or not. So, heavy mesh over one’s face was probably an object of envy.
After the session, I went to MOMA and the American Folk Art Museums, opened until 8 today (Target sponsored museum day). Here some of my favorites works.