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Emile Guimet's bequest of the Asian treasures he had bought on a round-the-world tour in the 1870s fuelled the French craze for Asian antiquities....

Emile Guimet’s bequest of the Asian treasures he had bought on a round-the-world tour in the 1870s fuelled the French craze for Asian antiquities and helped put the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques on a par with the British Museum and the Baur Collection in Geneva.

This summer the French collection has added a twist. Amid a huge show that ranges over eight centuries of Ghandara statues devoted to depicting the face of Buddha,are scattered the works of a playful and eagerly collected young Pakistani photographer,Rashid Rana.

Using computer software to mix his images,Mr Rana creates works that are both ironic and disturbing. A giant box (pictured) that seems from a distance to depict a city skyline is actually made up,when you get close,of hundreds of small photographs of houses in Lahore,a teeming mosaic of urbanity that includes shops,traffic and dusty street corners. Similarly the postage-stamp squares of scenes from a slaughterhouse — pale carcasses,spilled blood and amputated limbs — when you step back,are arranged to depict,in all its richness and comfort,a red oriental carpet. A show to look at over and over.

© The Economist Newspaper Limited 2010

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First published on: 03-08-2010 at 02:10 IST
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