Snapshot from AMCA’s 2010 Conference at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar
CALL FOR PANELS AND PAPERS:
On Likeness and Difference: Modern Art of the Middle East and the Confines of Modernism
Third Annual Conference of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey
October 18-19, 2013
Kevorkian Center, NYU
The third annual AMCA conference seeks to problematize the comparative method with which the paradigm of modernism approaches modern art of the Middle East. This paradigm is, after all, a formulation of the historical experience of Western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It maps the development of bourgeois society to an apotheosis of form, and then situates the emergence of modernist concepts and styles at this juncture. As new artistic practices develop outside of Europe, artists producing work in apparently modernist styles are consistently read in comparison to their European counterparts, eclipsing their historical specificity and rendering them derivative.
The conference aims to interrogate this relation of comparison by opening up a set of interlocking questions about visual resemblances between works, uses of the concept of influence, and the availability of documentation that would enable the writing of a different historiography. Comparison is often premised on visual resemblances between the modern art of the Middle East and the modern art of Europe: “It looks like Picasso.” However, the identification of those resemblances is based on the epistemological fallacy that alikeness is evidence of a historical relation; it may look like Picasso but that does not necessarily indicate an influence. At stake in the lure of resemblance is not only methodological rigor; by inviting comparison, resemblances risk subordinating one art to another, obscuring its constitutive artistic problem and the historical context in which it was produced.
On the one hand, there is a need to reflect critically on comparison as a method in art history. How does this comparative approach generate claims about influence, and how is the concept of influence used asymmetrically, denoting in a European context an historical link but in the Middle East an imitation? What do we mean when we claim an ‘influence’? On the other hand, what is at issue here is the possibility of asking formalist questions outside any comparison. How can we think about work produced in what appears to be modernist styles without taking as a starting point a comparison with European modernism? And how can we critically address visual similarities and differences, not only with European modernism but also with art practices in other non-western contexts?
In order to move out of the relationship of comparison instituted by the paradigm of European modernism, we need to address the methodological problem that much of the modern art of the Middle East comes to us de-contextualized, stripped of the historical record that would enable us to place it in the context of its production. This is partly a consequence of the region’s wars, which have scattered art collections and destroyed archives. It is also the result of an archival tradition in which the documentary record for art practices is not centralized and systematized, but instead is dispersed in a number of different locations. In the absence of documentation, the artwork can only be comprehended on the basis of its visuality. Operating within the paradigm of modernism, this leads into the trap of comparison, where the artwork is evaluated in term of its similarities and differences to European modern art. This comparison only reinforces the alienation of the artwork from its documentary record, perpetuating the myth in the art world that “there is no archive.”
AMCA is currently accepting individual paper proposals (250-‐300 words) as well as panel proposals (400-‐500 words) that present specific case studies as possibilities for thinking outside the trap of comparison. We encourage papers dealing with specific studies of artworks, artists, manifestos, collectives, and discourses from the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey. Panel proposals should provide a brief overview of the panel stakes as well as a list of tentatively confirmed paper presenters and titles and suggested discussants. Graduate students are particularly encouraged to submit proposals.
All proposals to be submitted by June 15, 2013
A response will be given by early July 2013.
Saleem Al-Bahloly (UC Berkeley)
Dina Ramadan (Bard College)
Sarah Rogers (Independent Scholar)
Nada Shabout (AMCA President/ University of North Texas)
Salwa Mikdadi (AMCA President Elect/ Independent Curator)
December 1 2012
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Greetings to you in this period of optimism and despair. The last couple of years have been years of much action and uncertainty, and we will undoubtedly need time to reflect on all that has happened in the Arab world and how it is affecting the art world.
2012 has been a productive year for AMCA. Our membership has continued to grow steadily and H-AMCA has proved to be an invaluable source of information thanks to our amazing editor, Pamela Karimi.
In June, we held our second annual international conference, “The Longevity of Rupture: 1967 in Art and Its Histories,” held in collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut and made possible by a generous donation from Rana Sadik and Samer Younis. It was a galvanizing two days of papers and debate. Video footage of the conference is now available on our website, thanks to our dedicated intern Nora Palandjian. In addition, a selection of papers will be published in a forthcoming issue of MIT Press’ ARTmargins.
As an affiliate of College Art Association (CAA) and Middle East Studies Association (MESA), AMCA’s active presence at both annual conferences continues. Pamela Karimi organized a special session on Artists in Times of War and Revolution at the 2012 CAA conference in Los Angeles. We also sponsored two panels at the 2012 MESA conference in Denver: In the Shadow of the Cold War: Modern Art in the Arab World (organized by Saleem al-Bahloly and Sarah Rogers and chaired by Dina Ramadan) and Arab Spring, Artistic Awakening? Art, Resistance, and Revolution (organized by Dina Ramadan and Jennifer Pruitt).
We held our annual members’ meeting at the MESA conference, where we awarded the second Rhonda A. Saad Prize for the best graduate paper in modern and contemporary art in the Arab art. This year’s recipient is Amin Alsaden, a doctoral student at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, for his paper, “Baghdad’s 1974 Biennial: The Ba’ath, Arab Art, and Global Politics.” We would like to thank Hannah Feldman and Jessica Winegar as members of the selection committee for their critical engagement with the submissions.
Our November Members’ Meeting marked the end of our inaugural board’s term. I would like to profoundly thank Sarah Rogers, Dina Ramadan, and Anneka Lenssen for their dedicated service to AMCA over the past five years. It was through their energy and commitment that AMCA has developed as a vital presence in the field. I am confident that AMCA’s growth will continue with our new board. Salwa Mikdadi joins us as President-elect. Alexandra Seggerman begins her term as Secretary. Patrick Kane now serves as Treasurer. I look forward to working with them in the coming months.
Last but not least, I look forward to your continuous support and participation in AMCA’s progress. Your membership is vital for the success of AMCA, so please pay your dues, and I encourage all of you to become active members through suggestions, interactions and volunteering. We need to hear your voices and we need to continue to find creative ways to connect with colleagues in the region. We also need volunteers for the Reviews Section Committee. Please contact Salwa if you are interested.
Warm regards and best wishes for 2013,
June 25, 2012
Announcing the Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Modern Arab Art, 2012
In honor of our dear friend and colleague, Rhonda A. Saad (1979-2010), The Association of Modern & Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) established the Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Modern Arab Art in 2011. In its second year, the award aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art.
The Rhonda A. Saad Prize is offered annually to a graduate student working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Middle East Studies and Art History. Papers will be evaluated according to the originality of research and methodological approach, cogency of argument, and clarity of writing. The submission must be solo authored and written in English.
The author of the winning paper will be awarded $500, to be presented at the Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting in December 2012. Additionally, the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.
The Prize is sponsored by the donations of generous individuals.
1. The paper must have been produced between June 2011 - September 2012
2. The paper must not exceed 35 pages, excluding notes and bibliography
3. The paper must not have been published nor currently be under review for publication
Submissions for the 2012 prize must be submitted by September 30 2012 via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We held our second AMCA conference, The Longevity of Rupture: 1967 in Art and Its Histories, in collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut. Both the papers and the energy from the audience were tremendous. We taped the proceedings and hope to get clips up on our website shortly.
October 19, 2011
Dear AMCA members,
We are happy to announce that nominations for AMCA’s Board Member positions of President-elect, Secretary, and Treasurer are currently being accepted. Now that AMCA can boast four years of continuous programming including panels at CAA and MESA as well as our own dedicated conference last year (and plans for a second AMCA conference underway for 2012), an expanding membership, and increasing recognition from academic and curatorial circles, it is time for you to get involved. Let's keep our momentum going.
Nominations should be submitted via email by November 20 2011 to: email@example.com. All nominations must be accompanied by a 300-500 word bio and brief CV. Self-nominations are accepted. Please also note that as per AMCA by-laws, only active members (membership dues up to date) may serve as board members.
Candidates will be announced at AMCA’s annual Members Meeting to be held on December 1 2011 at 7pm. Following the December 1 2011 Members Meeting, candidates’ bios will be circulated to all AMCA members. Voting will be held via email ballot. All active members shall have 1 vote per office. Polls will close Jan 20 2012. Successful candidates will be announced on Feb. 15 2012 and assume office at the close of the 2012 Members Meeting (to be held in conjunction with the annual MESA Meeting, held in late Autumn 2012, as per AMCA’s bylaws).
For a full listing of responsibilities for each Board position, please visit AMCA’s by-laws, posted in full at: <www.amcainternational.org <http://www.amcainternational.org> . Current holders of the positions are also happy to answer questions about responsibilities associated with each post. Please feel free to email them directly.
Please be sure to renew your via <http://www.amcainternational.org> and help shape the future of AMCA.
Dear AMCA members,
We have finally launched our new, moderated H-AMCA e-mail list-service!
The list-service will be run under the auspices of H-Net, the international interdisciplinary organization of scholars and teachers that has long provided services aiming to use electronic and web-based resources to better support research and learning in the humanities.
Pamela Karimi, Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, has agreed to serve as List Editor. At the end of Pamela’s editorship, Alexandra D. Seggerman, Yale University, will assume editor duties.
We are very excited about H-AMCA and hope that you will subscribe to it without delay. We see it as a central piece in the project of building community of scholars engaged in the study of modern and contemporary art from the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey. Moreover, we hope that the flexibility of the list-service format will encourage informed, timely discussion about events happening in the region we are studying – art events in Iran, Dubai, Turkey, Egypt, etc. – as well as the region where many of us are based (ie U.S. and U.K. academe). Many of you have let us know that a top priority for you and your involvement in our organization is a functioning, lively e-mail list. We hope that H-AMCA will provide a platform for effective communication and debate, providing it to you as well as to the many additional subscribers who will join in the coming years.
Please note that henceforth, all announcements about events, exhibitions, upcoming conferences, and other calls for papers will be circulated through this new H-AMCA list (another reason to subscribe). Subscriptions to the list are free, and are not linked to your membership in our organization. While we will continue to post relevant announcements about job and funding opportunities to our website, as we have always done, we expect that H-AMCA will now be the primary mechanism for these types of updates.
We will now use AMCA’s own, autonomously maintained email list of members to circulate organizational business only: calls to organize panels at the annual conferences of CAA and MESA, the national organizations to which we have affiliate membership. We will also use our internal list for organizational elections, and to put together our next AMCA conference – currently slated for Summer 2012 (stay tuned).
Dear AMCA members,
2010 was an active year for us at AMCA, as we continue to grow with your valuable support. I must say that as I write this letter and review this year’s activities, I vividly remember the workshop Silvia Naef and I organized for the Seventh Mediterranean Social and Political Research Meeting in Montecatini Terme, 22 – 24 March 2006. My aim in organizing the workshop stemmed from my personal experience as a graduate student on the subject in the USA and the lack of context, literature and support I faced. It was to establish a forum for scholars and individuals engaged in the study of modern and contemporary art from the region, and particularly encourage and support young researchers. AMCA was also envisioned as a global mechanism, not constrained by single language or geography, connecting the region and its arts with scholars from around the world and making their scholarship available worldwide. A number of the participants became members of AMCA’s founding board. I am grateful to their valuable commitment and perseverance. I am particularly grateful to Sarah Rogers, AMCA President-Elect, for the incredible job she continues to do.
As the Founding President, I stand very proud today of our accomplishments following AMCA’s first international conference, “Modern Arab Art: Objects, Histories, and Methodologies”, held in collaboration with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha in conjunction with Mathaf’s opening. For two days, from December 17-18th, established and emerging scholars gathered together to share exciting research, methodologies, and thoughts on the future of the field. It was a monumental event and we hope that the papers and engaged discussions will be available online in the coming weeks. Importantly, we are all ready in the process of organizing next year’s AMCA-Mathaf Conference. We at AMCA are deeply grateful for the support of Mathaf, which enabled our first conference to be held in the region and, critically, surrounded by the very objects we study. I am also personally grateful to the members of the Conference Committee, Sarah Rogers, Dina Ramadan and Anneka Lenssen for all their support and great organizational work.
Our MESA presence continued this year. In November we sponsored the panel, “Articulating Politics, Mobilizing Art: The Left and the Visual Arts,” organized by AMCA secretary Dina Ramadan, at the 2010 Middle East Studies Association annual meeting. Our online review section continues to grow with reviews from AMCA-members. Please contact Sarah Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in reviewing a book or joining the review committee.
This year was also marked by tragedy as we mourn the passing of our dear friend and esteemed colleague, Rhonda Saad. Her presence is missed, especially at the Mathaf Conference for which she was integral force in designing the conference’s conceptual framework. It was to Rhonda that we dedicated the conference. In her memory, AMCA is proud to have established “The Rhonda Saad Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Modern Arab Art.” We will announce the first prize of $500USD at the annual MESA meeting in 2011, and would like to thank all of you who generously donated to the fund. For donations, see AMCA’s main page or contact email@example.com.
Consequently, we welcomed Anneka Lenssen to the board and to assume the duties of AMCA treasurer. We are all grateful to Anneka’s immediate commitment to keeping AMCA financially sound. AMCA is a membership-based organization, and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all lapsing members to renew their memberships and/or make a donation on-line or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. In these financial hard-times, your dues and donations are very much needed.
In the meantime, we hope to see you all at the College Art association’s annual meeting in New York City this February. AMCA will host a members meeting and the affiliate session, “Modern Arab Art and Its Historical and Methodological Relationships to the Post-Colonial Context,” (February 9th 2011, 12:30-2pm). Chaired by Sarah Rogers, the session will bring together scholars Prita Meier, Robin Greeley, Nada Shabout, and Saloni Mathur for roundtable discussion on the historical and historiographical relationships between the Middle East and other locations previously assumed peripheral to the study of Modernism. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an informed and engaged discussion. Two more sessions at CAA are organized by AMCA members. For details, see AMCA’s and CAA’s websites.
I would like to thank every one of you for your hard work and dedication to making AMCA a thriving and effective scholarly group. We still have much to do and I look forward to welcoming new and renewing members to AMCA. We need all your help! We need volunteers to serve on our various committees (Review Committee and Website Committee). I encourage all of you to contact me or Sarah Rogers if you are interested, or if you have comments and ideas. Please, also send us your good news, achievements, awards, publications, etc. We are happy to post them on AMCA’s website.
Wishing you all a happy and productive new year,
AMCA mourns the loss of our dear colleague Don LaCoss, 46, who passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 31st 2011.
Cherished father, partner, son, brother, cousin, nephew, friend, teacher, and comrade in surrealist exuberance, Don LaCoss, was born in Newport, Vt. Don grew up in Wallingford, Conn., and graduated from Sheehan High School in 1982. He graduated from Middlesex Comm. College and then Wesleyan University with a BA in History, 1992. He completed an accelerated Middlebury College French language program before studying in Paris, and took a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan in 2001. He was a member of the UW-L History Dept. since 2001, teaching a broad range of courses, from World and European History to the Holocaust, African Civilizations, and the Middle East. Don was active in his son’s Three Rivers Waldorf School and was well recognized and loved in several other parent/child groups around town.
A passionate enemy of injustice and hypocrisy, Don was a contributing editor for the anarchist/anti-authoritarian newspaper The Fifth Estate and an active member of the Chicago Surrealist Group. His visual art has been exhibited around the world, from La Crosse and St. Louis, to New York City, Boston, Vancouver, and London. His writings on surrealism and anarchism have been published widely, and he was working on a book titled The Imp of the Perverse: Surrealism in Egypt, 1937-1947. Don approached his work with a sense of the revolutionary possibilities afforded through art, education and humor. A friend writes, “Like the ‘honesty’ of Guy Fawkes, who was executed on Jan. 31, 1606 for his part in the Gunpowder Plot on the British parliament, the incendiary black humor of Don, who died on the same day 205 years later, was, in the words of André Breton, like ‘a spark in search of a powder keg’.”
Don’s greatest passion was his son Benjamin, now six, the only person who could match Don’s marvelous sense of imagination and of future possibilities. He is also survived by his partner Susan Crutchfield of La Crosse; mother, Sandy (Paul) Inserra of Wallingford, Conn.; father, Wendell LaCoss of Wallingford; brother, David (Jennifer) LaCoss and their children, Chloe and Bryce; and by numerous cousins and doting friends and colleagues.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to “CollegeAmerica FBO Benjamin LaCoss Crutchfield,” 323 23rd St. S., La Crosse, Wis., 54601. Coulee Region Cremation Group is assisting the family.
Share your memories of Don by going to http://donsblog64.blogspot.com/. To
log in, use e-mail = email@example.com and password = LaCoss64
In Memory of Our Dear Friend and Colleague Rhonda
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As you know, Rhonda Saad – a dear friend, invaluable colleague, gifted scholar, and all around irrepressible force in the young field of modern and contemporary Arab art studies – recently lost her life in an accident while on holiday in Istanbul. She is deeply missed. Not only has Rhonda’s premature death robbed her family and friends of her spirit and humor, but it has also robbed the academic community of her groundbreaking research on Palestinian art. Her dissertation would have analyzed the socio-political dynamics that governed this art’s production and reception in relation to the multiple, trans-national settings that constituted modern Palestine.
With the intent of keeping Rhonda’s legacy alive in some small way, AMCA will establish a “Rhonda Saad Prize for the Best Graduate Paper in Modern Arab Art.” This Prize will be awarded annually to the best academic paper written by a young scholar (defined as pre- dissertation) on any aspect of modern Arab art. We hope that such a prize – in encouraging other emerging scholars in their contributions to the field and providing material support to those endeavors – will prove a fitting tribute to Rhonda’s life and work. We also hope that you, our members and friends, will join us in contributing whatever you are able to this new memorial fund. You may donate via Paypal. Please follow this link:
For those without access to Paypal, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements for a bank transfer, or for mailed check.
We will make the first award at the Middle East Studies Annual Conference in 2011.
In honor of our dear friend and colleague, Rhonda A. Saad (1979-2010), The Association of Modern & Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) established the Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Modern Arab Art. The award aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary art.
The Rhonda A. Saad Prize is offered annually to a graduate student (defined as pre-dissertation) working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Middle East Studies and Art History. Papers will be evaluated according to the originality of research and methodological approach, cogency of argument, and clarity of writing. The submission must be solo authored and written in English.
The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD at the Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting in November 2011. The Prize is sponsored by the donations of generous individuals.
Submissions for the 2011 prize must be submitted via email to email@example.com no later than October 1 2011.
2011-2013 Committee: Hannah Feldman (Chair), Jessica Winegar, and Nada Shabout.
Visit our new review section of exhibitions, catalogues, and books...
We welcome individual book and exhibition reviews (no more than 900 words) and/or review essays (no more than 2000 words) on topics related to the field of modern and contemporary art of the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey. We encourage submissions from individuals of any rank or affiliation, and encourage submissions from graduate students. All review authors must be AMCA members. Reviews can be submitted in Arabic, English, or French.
All submissions undergo an internal editorial screen and review process. Submissions are accepted on an on-going basis.
If you are the author of a book, curator of an exhibition, or someone who wishes to submit a review, please contact Sarah Rogers: firstname.lastname@example.org
Members, please send your recent activities to be announced on our website: email@example.com
**AMCA is now on FACEBOOKójoin in, invite friends, network, and participate in related discussions.
Welcome to AMCA! AMCA aims to advance the study of modern and contemporary art throughout the Arab world, Iran and Turkey. We are an affiliate organization of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and the College Art Association (CAA)