Inside the Whale

September 3, 2006

Inside/Outside the Whale

Filed under: Uncategorized — noahsimblist @ 6:23 pm

Inside/Outside the Whale, is an installation originally exhibited at Brookhaven College in Dallas, TX in 2005, which involved drawings, wall text and sound. The drawings included abstract configurations of religious symbols. They were framed by a set of texts that revolved around the story of Jonah.

360 Degree photo-collage of the show

The texts included the essay Inside the Whale in which George Orwell sets up the story of Jonah as an allegory for the political role of the artist.


Salman Rushdie responded with an essay entitled Outside of the Whale. Rushdie felt that Orwell was arguing that the artist should withdraw into “the belly of the whale” and focus on his own interior life as subject matter. Rushdie objected, arguing that all artists have an inescapable political responsibility.


Edward Said, a Palestinian post-colonial writer acted as referee to this argument in his book Culture and Imperialism but focused on the latent political context from which Rushdie was writing, as a “third world intellectual.”




At a time when ghosts of the crusades and colonialism have risen again with the current engagements of the US in the Middle East, some of Said’s questions regarding positions of East and West have particular resonance for me. So too does the question of the role of the artist in a time of war. My work acts as a frame for dialogues within history and ideology, inherent and hidden in the seeming neutrality of abstract form.


1 Comment »

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    Comment by Sara — November 22, 2012 @ 3:37 am

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