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Inicio arrow Arab modern. Modernidad(es) Excéntricas. Escrituras de la historia del arte moderno en el mundo árabe arrow Arab Modern. Eccentric Modernity/Modernities. Writings of the History of Modern Art in the Arab World

Arab Modern. Eccentric Modernity/Modernities. Writings of the History of Modern Art in the Arab World

Date: 24 - 25 november 2011
Participants: Saleh Barakat, Maria Golia, Silvia Naef and Kenza Sefrioui
Venue: Universidad Internacional de Andalucía (Monasterio de La Cartuja, c/ Américo Vespucio 2, Sevilla)





In different regions of the ‘Arab world’, the writing of the history of modern art and the analysis of developments in this field have been foiled as a result of a series of shortfalls in terms of public art collections and the conservation of their works, corpus (critical texts and paradigms, exhibition catalogues and monographs on artists) and archives.

Along these lines, we should value the specificity of the textual (poetic and literary) corpus that illustrates the perception of the works in the varied cultural spaces of the so-called Arab world, in order to establish the precise paradigms that have presided over the analysis and evaluation of art works from the mid-nineteenth century onwards.

All these issues are relevant at a time when the region is witnessing an extensive construction of museums and collections, both private and public. Starting from recent historical and critical research into modern Arab artists and their works, and comparing them to the historical and critical discourses emerging in other non-Western cultural contexts (Latin America and India, for instance), in this seminar we shall try to identify methods and perspectives that are able to stimulate such discourses, focusing on the present Arab context.





24 november

5:00 p.m.
Presentation of the seminar by Catherine David

5:30 p.m.
Lecture by Saleh Barakat: Rediscovering Arab Modern Art: The Cases of Saloua Raouda Choucair, Aref Rayess and Saliba Douaih

This lecture will showcase growing awareness of the need to archive, preserve, reinterpret and promote modern art in Lebanon, namely through the current retrospectives of three pioneer artists from Lebanon whose work had fallen into oblivion.

6:30 p.m.
Lecture by Silvia Naef: Reconsidering the “Pioneers” – Early Modern Art in the Arab World and its “Modernity”

This address sets out to reconsider the production of the ‘pioneers’ of the visual arts in the Arab world from the perspective of a process of modernisation that does not only imitate Western patterns but adapts them to local conditions. Secondly, it will review ongoing research on the period between the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, focusing especially new attempts to write regional art history on the basis of long neglected material. 

7:00 p.m.

25 november

5:30 p.m.
Lecture by Kenza Sefrioui

6:30 p.m.
Lecture a Maria Golia: Seeing, Buying and Believing:The Forces behind Photography’s Early Development in Egypt

This talk outlines photography’s main Raison d'être in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century (i.e. to serve the study of antiquity/archaeology; as a commodity; and as content for the illustrated press) noting the interplay between these uses and their consequences both for the medium and for Egypt.

7:30 p.m.
Discusión / Closing remarks





Catherine David studied Linguistics and History of Art at the Universitè de la Sorbonne and Ecole du Louvre in Paris. From 1982 to 1990 she was Curator at the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou and from 1990 to 1994 at Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, both in Paris, where she organized several monographs and group exhibitions including: Lothar Baumgarten; Reinhard Mucha; Gilberto Zorio; Passages de L’Image; Stan Douglas: Monodramas and Television Spots; Suzanne Lafont; Marcel Broodthaers; Helio Oiticica; Robert Gober; Jeff Wall and Chantal Ackerman: D’Est, among others. 

From 1994 to 1997 David served as Artistic Director for documenta X in Kassel, Germany, and from 1998 on is director of the long-term project Contemporary Arab Representations  produced by Tàpies Foundation in Barcelona. Between 2002 and 2004 David was director of the Witte de With Rotterdam in the Netherlands. In 2004-2005 she was Rudolf Arnim Guest professor at Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2005-2006 she was fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. In 2007 she organized a monograph exhibition of Bahman Jalali at Tàpies Fondation in Barcelona and the interdisciplinary event: Di/Visions: Culture and Politics of the Middle East at Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. In 2008 she received the Bard Award for curatorial excellence in New York. In 2009 she was curator of the ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage) pavilion at Venice Biennal. In March 2011 She organized the Hassan Sharif’s  Exhibition Experiments & Objects 1979-2011 at the ADACH Exhibition hall in Abu Dhabi and  her last publication is the first monograph of the Artist Hassan Sharif Works 1973-2011 (Hatje Cantz, 2011).

Saleh Barakat is a leading expert in modern and contemporary Arab art, founder of Agial Art Gallery in Beirut. As executive manager of the gallery, he has helped build a number of major collections of modern and contemporary Arab art. He has curated several pan-Arab exhibitions, including the 9th Francophone Summit in Beirut and The Road to Peace: Painting in Times of War 1975-1991 at the Beirut Art Center in 2009, and in 2007 co-curated the first national pavilion for Lebanon at the 52nd edition of the Venice Biennale. Other joint curatorships were the touring exhibition Mediterranean Crossroads, in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 2011, Saloua Raouda Choucair: The Retrospective. He currently serves on the steering committee of the Arts Center at the American University of Beirut, and in 2006 was nominated as a Yale World Fellow.

Maria Golia writes about Egypt from cultural, social, political and economic perspectives. Her non-fiction books, Cairo, City of Sand (Reaktion Books, London 2004) and Photography and Egypt (Reaktion Books, London, 2010) involved extensive historical research alongside an intimate understanding of the country’s present moment, its place in today’s world as well as in that of the past.

Silvia Naef is professor at the Arabic Studies Section of the University of Geneva, where she teaches cultural history of the Arab world. She has been visiting professor at the University of Toronto (2007-2009), lecturing on modern art of the Middle East and has taught in Basel and Tübingen (1995-2000). Her research deals with modern art and visual representations in the Arab and Islamic world. Among her main publications are Y a-t-il une question de l’image en Islam? (French edition 2004; German edition 2007, Italian edition 2011), A la recherche d’une modernitè arabe, L'évolution des arts plastiques en Egypte, au Liban et en Irak (French edition 1996; Arabic edition 2008).

Kenza Sefrioui studied literature and Arabic at the Sorbonne and INALCO in Paris. In 2004 she returned to Morocco and started to work in the culture section of Casablanca´s Hebdomadaire Journal. In June of 2011 she presented her doctoral thesis, Souffles: (1966-1973) Espoirs de révolution culturelle au Maroc.