Folkarts in Contemporary Pop Culture

  • Paintings by English book illustrator Arthur Rackham
  • Films by Japanese artist Hayao Miyazaki
  • Fantasy novels and short stories around the world
  • Illustrations by American book designer Thomas Canty
  • Arabic folk hero Antar. Film on YouTube here (in Arabic). Margari Aziza wrote about her discovery of Antar.
  • Egyptian feminist working group, Women & Memory Forum, published a collection of re-tellings and re-imaginings of folktales and old Arabic stories
  • Statues depicting Shahrazad and other characters of  الف ليلة ولية / One Thousand and One Nights by ‘Sculptor of Baghdad’ Mohammed Ghani Hikmat

※ Suggested additions are welcome for the above list. Strong examples of folkarts in contemporary pop culture are easily identified as having clear folk elements and appealing to many audiences through mass media. What does it mean to use old art in new art? How old does old art have to be to work as folk heritage? The answer seems to be pre-modern, though modernity isn’t always easy to define, and even that answer isn’t always satisfactory…

Art by Shahzia Sikander


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