Keynotes- Iconoclasm: from ISIS to Ai Weiwei

The focus of this lecture was on Iconoclasm, from ISIS to Ai Weiwei. Iconoclasm is when certain people have a rejected, destructive approach to a cherished belief, a religious image or a valuable practice.



I learnt that Iconophobes and Iconophiles  are people who are unsettled with a belief, artifact or an important image and therefore want to destroy it. I was shown a photograph of a member of ISIS destroying a rare Assyrian sculpture, Mosul in 2015. This person is an example of an Iconophobe or Iconophiles as they object to an ancient treasure because they believe that is isn’t right and is sinful. Normally iconoclasm is associated with vandalism, however vandalism is different. With vandalism there is no purpose or meaning for such destructive actions, where as Iconophobes is.


Ai Wei Wei

I was then shown an act of Iconoclasm through a photo of Ai Wie Wie’s, dropping a Han dynasty urn, 1995. Ai Weiwei’s act of iconoclasm has been speculated overs the years, some people believe that it was a disrespectful art movement. Where as others believe he made more art by bringing crossing a historic value, with comtempory value. The work that Ai Weiwei’s had portrayed was very iconic as it sent a lot of controversial opinions around the world and some may claim that Ai Weiwei has invented a new artistic category: The antique ready-made.


The iconoclast projects a person’s belief through a powerful image into another one. Basically destroying one iconic image, they are creating another within their favor.  For example, the terrorist attack that caused the destructions of the twin towers, New York, 9/11. The twin towers were a very iconic global empire, that showed power and strength within the city of New York. The effect of an image can become contagious, one single act of defiance and the outrage will spread throughout the world. Within the terrorists favor they showed the people that they could take down a powerful empire, such as the twin towers. Just by capturing the photo of the destruction, it’s a reminder or what they can do.




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