News & Events | AMCA | Association for Modern + Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran + Turkey

For daily notices about opportunities, exhibitions, and other items of interest for our field, consider subscribing to H-AMCA http://www.h-net.org/~amca/ , a moderated list-service run under the auspices of H-Net. Tiffany Floyd, currently serves as List Editor.

Deadline: December 15, 2021

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2022 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. Established in 2010, the award aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize honors our respected colleague and dear friend, Rhonda (1979-2010), who was, at the time of her tragic passing, in the process of researching a doctoral dissertation on modern Palestinian art in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. Over the last ten years, the prize has recognized excellence in graduate work completed on a variety of subjects in a number of disciplines at universities in the U.S. and abroad. This year’s competition is open to graduate students as well as to recent post-doctoral students who earned a PhD no earlier than 2018. 

The prize is offered to a graduate student or recent PhD working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. Submissions must have been produced between June 2020 – December 2021, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by December 15, 2021.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held this academic year at the College Art Association Annual Meeting from February 16-19th and March 3-5th, 2022. The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Anthem series Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey, pending the standard review process.

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As many of you know, last week Israeli occupation forces broke into and raided Dar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art & Research — the beloved and respected grass-roots independent artist–run initiative founded in Bethlehem in 2014 by Emily Jacir, Annemarie Jacir, and Yusuf Nasri Jacir, and currently co-directed by Emily Jacir and Aline Khoury. Team members and resident artists are safe, but there was extensive damage throughout the historic 19th century building. The offices were ransacked, and equipment was taken including phones, computer, hard drive, cameras, books and more. Dar Jacir lost their Urban Farm as well when it was burnt to the ground during several fires that surrounded the house. You can read more here: 

https://www.instagram.com/p/CO_TSm9N6z5/

Donations in any amount will help replace equipment, repair the damages, and support the Dar Jacir team. The immediate goal is to cover damages estimated to be c. $25,000.

This campaign is hosted by AMCA (in association with other non-profit organizations) and is being organized on behalf of Emily Jacir, with her blessing, by a small group of friends and colleagues who passionately believe that the world needs this art space. 

Please pass this message on to others! Let’s help the Dar Jacir team continue to do this work, which is more urgently needed than ever.

In solidarity, the friends of Dar Jacir (among them Julia Bryan-Wilson, Anneka Lenssen, Asma Kazmi, Ahmad Diab, Nada Shabout, Sarah Rogers, and many others)

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AMCA condemns the ongoing escalation of violence against the Palestinian people by the state of Israel and stands in solidarity with those bravely fighting occupation. We condemn state sanctioned violence under the guise of security when Israel continues to operate as a colonial settler state, subjecting Palestinians on a daily basis to land grabs, house demolitions, forced evictions, checkpoints, illegal detentions, denial of the right to return, and persistent and unflinching humiliation. We further condemn censorship of those who attempt to speak out in the name of Palestine. We ask world leaders, why is there a refusal to hold Israel accountable for continual violation of international law?

 AMCA stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and all those who speak out in the name of freedom for all. #freepalestine

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CFP: AMCA Session at CAA 2022

AMCA may sponsor a session at next year’s CAA Annual Conference, to be held in Chicago, February 16-19, 2022 (Format TBD). We are currently seeking session proposals from our members. Proposals are encouraged for Complete Sessions (which include the individual presenters/papers), though this is not necessary.

Session organizer(s): Please submit a 250-word summary of your session proposal to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by April 19, 2021 for consideration by CAA’s April 30, 2021 deadline. If you have a Complete Session, include the names and affiliations of all session participants, presentation titles, and abstracts. Please note that if selected for AMCA sponsorship, the chair or co-chairs will be responsible for submitting the proposal to and communicating with CAA directly. Note that for Sessions Seeking Contributors, if selected by CAA, the session abstract will be included in the call for participation (CFP), which opens August 12, 2021 and closes September 16, 2021.

The chair or co-chairs should be current AMCA members and current CAA members. For further information on CAA’s panel submission guidelines, visit: http://www.collegeart.org/programs/conference/proposals

We look forward to receiving your proposals! 

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CFP: MESA 2021

AMCA may sponsor two panels at this year’s Middle East Studies Association (MESA) meeting, to be held in Montréal, October 28-31, 2021. Panel organizers: Please submit a 300-400-word panel summary in addition to individual paper abstracts to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by February 7, 2021. AMCA board members will vote to select two panels for submission to MESA, and chosen panels will submit their proposals to the MESA website. Please note that all panelists must be current AMCA members. For further information on panel submission guidelines, visit: https://mesana.org/annual-meeting/call-for-papers.

For a list of previous AMCA-sponsored panels, see: http://amcainternational.org/amca-sponsored-sessions-at-caa-mesa-and-diwan-7-2007-present/

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AMCA may sponsor two panels at this year’s Middle East Studies Association (MESA) meeting, to be held in Montréal, October 28-31, 2021. Panel organizers: Please submit a 300-400-word panel summary in addition to individual paper abstracts. All proposals should be sent to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by February 7, 2021. Chosen panels will then submit their proposals and abstracts on MESA’s website by February 18, 2021. Please note that all panelists must be current AMCA members. For further information on panel submission guidelines, visit: https://mesana.org/annual-meeting/call-for-papers.

For a list of previous AMCA-sponsored panels, see: http://amcainternational.org/amca-sponsored-sessions-at-caa-mesa-and-diwan-7-2007-present/

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AMCA congratulates Professor Salah M. Hassan, who has been named CAA’s 2021 Annual Conference Distinguished Scholar. Dr. Hassan is the Goldwin Smith Professor of African and African Diaspora Art History and Visual Culture in the Department of Africana Studies and Research Center, as well as in the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, and also serves as Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University, Ithaca, USA. Hassan is also the Director of The Africa Institute, Sharjah, UAE. Dr. Hassan’s pathbreaking work has been invaluable to the field of modern and contemporary art in the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey. Please read more about his distinguished career: https://www.collegeart.org/news/2020/11/20/2021-distinguished-scholar-salah-m-hassan/

Dr. Hassan will be featured at CAA’s Distinguished Scholar session on a panel that will include Chika Okeke-Agulu (Princeton University); Elizabeth Giorgis (University of Addis Ababa); and Iftikhar Dadi (Cornell University). The live online Q&A will be held Thursday, February 11, 2021, 10:30-11:15 am EST.

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AMCA is delighted to announce the publication of the first book in its new series with Anthem Press, Commitment in the Artistic Practice of Aref El-Rayess: The Changing of Horses by Natasha Gasparian. (Paperback, 250 Pages. ISBN:9781785274626. November 2020. £35.00, $59.95)

This book is the first comprehensive study of El-Rayess’ seminal painting “The Changing of Horses.” Through her rigorous analysis, Gasparian offers a window not only into the Blood and Freedom exhibitions in which the work was displayed, but also into wider exhibition practices and debates around revolutionary artistic practice in Lebanon and the Arab world. 

“Starting from the micro-context (Aref El-Rayess’ 1967 painting “The Changing of Horses”), Gasparian retraces the big picture, in an original and brilliant way, using the artist’s metaphoric work in order to illustrate the new intellectual context that the 1967 defeat created.” — Silvia Naef, Professor, Department of Mediterranean, Slavonic and Oriental Languages, University of Geneva

“Gasparian’s in-depth exploration of El-Rayess’s seminal painting “The Changing of Horses” is a brilliant study in the correlation between artistic practice and political engagement. It provides a distinct entry point into some lesser explored aspects of one of Lebanon’s leading modernist artists, set against a comprehensive archival backdrop that weaves together cultural and political histories alike. A timely contribution to the literature on modernism and its various manifestations across the Arab World, and Lebanon in particular.” — Dr. Sam Bardaouil, Founder and Director at Art Reoriented, Munich and New York

Natasha Gasparian is an art historian and critic. She has collaborated on writing, research, and curatorial projects with numerous institutions in Beirut, Lebanon, including Agial, Saleh Barakat Gallery, Beirut Art Center, and the Saradar Collection.

Commitment in the Artistic Practice of Aref el-Rayess: The Changing of Horses, is available for purchase here.

The Anthem Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey series publishes scholarly biographies for artwork in the region. Each publication traces the historical trajectory of an individual art work, from the circumstances of production (including artist’s biography and socio-cultural context of place) through its exhibition history with collectors and museums. This series is published in collaboration with The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA). Proposal guidelines are available at http://amcainternational.org/anthem-press/.

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AMCA writes today in support and solidarity With all Palestinian artists, cultural workers, and organizations who persist in their creative work in the Occupied Territories and diaspora despite consistent, destabilizing and often violent challenges and restrictions from the State of Israel and its occupying powers. We urge all institutions, organizations, and individuals to work together with Palestinians to promote and secure their right to a nation state and we condemn any action that hinders the attainment of their rights.

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Deadline: December 15, 2020

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2021 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. Established in 2010, the award aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize honors our respected colleague and dear friend, Rhonda (1979-2010), who was, at the time of her tragic passing, in the process of researching a doctoral dissertation on modern Palestinian art in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. Over the last eight years, the prize has recognized excellence in graduate work completed on a variety of subjects in a number of disciplines at universities in the U.S. and abroad. This year’s competition is open to graduate students as well as to recent post-doctoral students who earned a PhD no earlier than 2017. 

The prize is offered to a graduate student or recent PhD working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. Submissions must have been produced between June 2018 – December 2020, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by December 15, 2020.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held virtually this academic year at the College Art Association Annual Meeting from February 10-13th 2021. The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.

For a listing of past recipients, visit: http://amcainternational.org/rhonda-a-saad-prize/

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Download CFP

Over the last two decades, the Arabian Peninsula has been the subject of critical attention  regarding the rapid development of art initiatives and institutions, notably blockbuster  transnational partnerships and attendant labor inequities. Less attention, however, has been given to the longer history of modern art in the region and the Peninsula’s artistic practices in  comparative perspective. This publication brings together scholarly voices from across  disciplines to consider the various movements, schools, collectives, manifestos, and debates that emerged in the countries of the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen throughout the 20th century. Contributions might address the following subjects: artists’ monographs, aesthetic debates in the press, artists’ collectives,  exhibition histories, role of public sculpture, and the contextualization of art movements within regional histories. Themes may also consider the international scope of exhibitions and events that have molded the Arabian Peninsula into a global art capital. This call for essays welcomes scholarly explorations centered on the exchange of art and ideas between Gulf countries and their neighbors (e.g, Iran, South Asia, East Africa, and other Arab States) and how those dialogues have informed modern art in the Arabian Peninsula. We encourage submissions that consider the ways in which studies of modern art in the Arabian Peninsula might challenge conventional  regional studies of modern Arab art or serve as a catalyst for broader disciplinary concerns with decolonizing art history.

We welcome abstracts for proposals addressing but not limited to the topics listed. Please submit a 500-word abstract along with a brief, one-page CV by September 15, 2020. Up to three 
 accompanying images may be included in the body of the word document (optional). Abstracts should be submitted in MS office format (any recent version). Proposals in both English and Arabic will be accepted. Send your abstract to: MAAP@barjeel.com

The book will be edited by Nada Shabout, Sarah Rogers and Suheyla Takesh. Accepted 
 contributions due on June 1, 2021. All essays will undergo a double-blind, peer-review process before final acceptance. Papers will be accepted in either English or Arabic and may include up to 7 images.

Download CFP

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We at AMCA condemn the recent acts of state violence against Black people in the United States. We see and hear large numbers of Americans who are unable to breathe. We mourn the murders of George Floyd, Eric Garner, and many other innocent Black Americans whose last breaths were brutally suppressed. AMCA recognizes COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on African American and Indigenous communities, and we decry racial violence, social and economic disparities, and structural racism inherent in U.S. labor, housing, and healthcare systems. We support those fighting to build a more just society.

We stand in solidarity with Black communities who continue to fight for racial justice and social and economic equality and we commit to using our position as scholars and teachers to work toward dismantling structural racism that persists in our universities, institutions, and communities.

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Congratulations to Dr. Nada Shabout, AMCA President, and to Dr. Lara Ayad, winner of the 2019 Rhonda A. Saad Prize, for their election to the CAA Board of Directors! We look forward to their continued service to the field and to their representation of the region at CAA.

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AMCA at CAA Annual Conference 2020

AMCA Idea Exchange

Friday, February 14, 2020: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM, Hilton Chicago, Lower Level – Salon C – Red Table

Art and Revolution Again: Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Egypt

Nada Shabout, University of North Texas (Host)

Civil unrest and demonstrations around the Arab world, Iran and Turkey regularly instigate discussions around the role of art in the region. Do revolutions bring renewal in art? Do artists have a responsibility to serve revolutions? How should art historians and curators approach the art of protest in the streets?

AMCA-Sponsored Panel

Saturday, February 15, 2020: 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM, Hilton Chicago, Lake Ontario

Modern Architecture, Handicraft Design, and Twentieth-Century Tourism

Daniel E. Coslett, Western Washington University Jessica Gerschultz, University of Kansas

The development of mass tourism during the twentieth century brought increasingly large numbers of travelers into contact with distant locales. Tensions between demonstrating modernity, offering expected levels of comfort, and representing host locations and peoples, produced mixed built environments charged with complex objectives. While references to “local” identities were at times achieved through regionalist approaches to modernism that incorporated elements of the vernacular, the decorative application of “traditional” handicrafts to structures, interiors, and furnishing was a popular means for such representation. Levels of theorization, authenticity, and inclusion regarding the use of handicrafts varied in different contexts and time periods, opening compelling questions regarding the definition, value, and purpose of handicraft in built environments as well as the gendering of roles and concepts designated as architectural or artisanal. Questions one might ask include the following: What elements of handicraft were deployed by modern architects in tourism settings, and why? How were crafts transformed, theorized, and modernized in the process of that deployment, and in what ways were they feminized? How did the use of handicraft shape narratives of identity that privileged specific histories, identities, mythologies, and marginalized others?

Members of this panel address intersections between modernist architecture and “locally” inspired handicraft from twentieth-century sites of tourism in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and North America. In its totality the panel considers gender, power dynamics, colonialism, and collaborations between artisan and architect, as well as the current state of these sites.

Presentations

“The Holy Land Offers You Its Products”: The Transformation of Palestinian Handicrafts During the British Mandate
Nisa Ari, University of Houston

Tourism and Artisanry in Italian Colonial Libya in the 1930s

Brian L. McLaren, University of Washington

An Appalachian Pleasure Garden: Tourism and the Reshaping and Exploitation of the American Hinterland
Lizabeth Wardzinski, North Carolina State University

Helena Perheentupa and the Labor of Crafts at Jawaja, India

Vishal Khandelwal, University of Michigan

“Anatolian Humanism”: A Critical Analysis of Decorative Arts in Tourist Spaces of Turkey, 1960–1990
Ozge Sade Mete, Bellevue College 

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AMCA is happy to announce receiving funding from the Getty Foundation, as part of its Connecting Art Histories initiative, to support “Mapping Art Histories in the Arab World, Iran and Turkey.” The project team, led by Nada Shabout, Sarah Rogers, Pamela Karimi, Jessica Gerschultz, Anneka Lenssen, Sarah-Neel Smith, Dina Ramadan, and Tiffany Floyd, will undertake extensive research on courses, programs, and alternative educational platforms and initiatives in the fields of art history, architectural studies, and archaeology throughout the region. With increasing interest in the modern and contemporary arts of the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey, the need for the field’s historiography has become vital. A publication and interactive map are planned.

Getty Foundation
This project is made possible with support from the Getty Foundation
through its Connecting Art Histories initiative.
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The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) may sponsor two panels at this year’s Middle East Studies Association (MESA) meeting, to be held in Washington, DC, October 10-13, 2020. Panel organizers: Please submit a 300-400-word panel summary in addition to individual paper abstracts to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by February 7, 2020. AMCA board members will vote to select two panels for submission to MESA, and chosen panels will submit their proposals to the MESA website. Please note that all panelists must be current AMCA members (http://amcainternational.org/). For further information on panel submission guidelines, visit: https://mesana.org/annual-meeting/call-for-papers. For a list of previous AMCA-sponsored panels, see: http://amcainternational.org/amca-sponsored-sessions-at-caa-mesa-and-diwan-7-2007-present/.

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AMCA Stands in Solidarity

We at AMCA stand in solidarity with the popular uprisings taking place across the region, particularly in Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, against the current systems of power, corruption and aggression. Alongside those in the streets, we support those who seek fundamental structural and systemic change towards a more equal society. AMCA lends its voice to the brave individuals in the streets who demand a better future for all and condemns all violence against them. We express solidarity with academics and the wide range of peaceful individuals in Egypt who face increased repression due to attempts to silence those who seek a more equitable existence for all.

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Voyage to Tomorrow: Futurism and Science Fiction in Middle Eastern Art & Design

11/15/19, 2:45-4:45 p.m.

Chair: Elizabeth Rauh, University of Michigan
Discussant: Nasser O. Rabbat, MIT

Anneka Lenssen, University of California, Berkeley, Futurity and the Arts of a New Syria, 1960-1970
Pamela Karimi, University of Massachusetts, Life after Earth: Nader Khalili’s “Futuristic Homes for Lunar Surfaces”
Joan Grandjean, University of Geneva, Gulf Futurism: An Art Historical Approach, Definition, and Characteristics
Sascha Crasnow, University of Michigan, Subverting Narratives of Occupation in Science Fiction: Larissa Sansour’s “Nation Estate” and “In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain”

Speculative Imaginaries in the Moving Image: Citizenship, Matter, and Space-Time Slippages in the Global Middle East
11/16/19, 8:30-10:30 a.m.

Organizer: Rana Jarbou
Chair: Sintia Issa, UC Santa Cruz
Discussant: Tarek El-Ariss, Dartmouth College

Rana Jarbou, UC Santa Cruz, #IAmReal- Mediating Difference between Amna and Sophia: Citizenship, Gender and Hyperreality in Saudi Arabia
Raed El Rafei, UC Santa Cruz, Queer Subjectivities and Spatial Dimensions in Tripoli, Lebanon
Suzy Halajian, UC Santa Cruz, A Grammar Built with Rocks: Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme
Sintia Issa, UC Santa Cruz, Mapping Waste Matters for a Time of Flowers: Marwa Arsanios

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CFP: THE 2020 RHONDA A. SAAD PRIZE FOR BEST PAPER IN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ARAB ART

Deadline: December 15, 2019

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2020 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. Established in 2010, the awardaims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize honors our respected colleague and dear friend, Rhonda (1979-2010), who was, at the time of her tragic passing, in the process of researching a doctoral dissertation on modern Palestinian art in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. Over the last eight years, the prize has recognized excellence in graduate work completed on a variety of subjects in a number of disciplines at universities in the U.S. and abroad. This year’s competition is open to graduate students as well as to recent post-doctoral students who earned a PhD no earlier than 2017. 

The prize is offered to a graduate student or recent PhD working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. Submissions must have been produced between June 2017 – December 2019, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by December 15, 2019.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held this academic year at the College Art Association Annual Meeting in Chicago, February 12-15th2020. The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.

For a listing of past recipients, visit: http://amcainternational.org/rhonda-a-saad-prize/

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AMCA expresses its deepest condolences on the passing of Palestinian artist and writer, Kamal Boullata. Born in Jerusalem in 1942, Boullata spent his childhood studying the art of icon painting under Khalil al Halabi (1889-1964). He furthered his training at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Rome (1961-65) and the Corcoran Gallery School of Art in Washington, DC (1968-71). Forced into exile in 1967, Boullata remained steadfast in his dedication to his homeland through both his art and his writing. Living the majority of his life in exile in Lebanon, Morocco, France, the United States, and, most recently, Berlin, Germany, Boullata once said that writing is a way for him to go home. 

Kamal Boullata

Boullata will be remembered for a beautiful breadth of compelling works. In the seventies and eighties, he incorporated Arabic Kufic calligraphy into color saturated, hard-edge geometric abstractions in silk screen prints. His later works moved away from calligraphy and he began exploring the geometry of the square, a reference to both western modernism and Islamic tradition. Repeatedly dissecting the square, Boullata created layered compositions infused with transparent colors.   

A passionate voice for Palestine, Boullata has published extensively on modern and contemporary art of the Arab world, including the authoritative book, Palestinian Art: From 1850 to the Present (Saqi, 2009). He and his wife, Lily Farhoud, always encouraged young scholars in the field, welcoming students in their home, sharing resources, and offering critical feedback. He was instrumental in developing the framework for the publication, Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (Museum of Modern Art, 2018), taking much time and effort to write extensive comments when he was unable to attend an advisors’ meeting in Amman, Jordan. A symposium, book launch, and exhibition of his work is scheduled for the end of January 2020 at the West Court Gallery, Jesus College in Cambridge. Two books by Boullata are due to be published this fall; There Where You Are Not (Hirmer Verlag) focuses on Boullata’s writings on art and Uninterrupted Fugue (Hirmer Verlag) is about his own works. Boullata’s continual dedication to Palestine and the field of modern and contemporary Arab art will serve as an inspiration to us all. 

Boullata died at his home in Berlin. He was 77 years old. Boullata wished to be buried in Jerusalem, but if permission is not granted by the Israeli Authorities, he will be buried in Berlin. 

A dear friend and mentor to many of us at AMCA. We will miss him dearly.

Kamal Boullata. Nur ‘ala Nur. 1982. Single page screenprint on detached album folio. Collection of the British Museum.
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Paper Abstract

This essay examines a series of four paintings created between 1934 and 1937 by the Egyptian artist Aly Kamel el-Deeb (1909-1997) for the Agricultural Museum. I argue that the male peasant subjects of his painted series, which he left untitled, functioned as heroic members of the Egyptian national community. Central to formulating the image of a national community in Egypt between the World Wars were concepts of nation-building and their intimate ties with ideas of masculinity. My essay situates el-Deeb’s untitled series in contemporary debates among nationalists and artists about the role of peasant men in achieving Egyptian economic and cultural independence, as well as portrayals of rural men as politically potent and culturally authentic figures seen in the works of the local avant-garde and international artists. I demonstrate that el-Deeb re-presented male peasants seen in the Agricultural Museum’s photographic displays as patriotic symbols of “great men” who contribute to Egypt’s agricultural development and create national folk arts.

Brief Bio

Lara Ayad is Assistant Professor of Art History at Skidmore College and teaches courses on African art. She received her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture and a Certificate in African Studies at Boston University in 2018. Lara credits her Egyptian-American family for her symbiotic fixations with art and science.

1)    Congratulations on receiving the Saad Prize for your paper, “Homegrown Heroes: Peasant Masculinity and Nation-Building in the Paintings of Aly Kamel el-Deeb.” How did you become interested in the work of al-Deeb?

Thank you! My first encounter with Aly al-Deeb’s work was circumstantial and totally unexpected. When I landed in Cairo in September of 2014 to perform my doctoral fieldwork, I was planning to focus on the art collection of the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art there. But the MoMEA directors and staff moved most of the displayed artworks to storage by the time I arrived. Concerns about the security of the museum’s collections also made my requests to access artworks stored in the storage facilities of the museum nil. It was my search for archival documents about other museum art collections in Cairo that led me to visit the Agricultural Museum, and, by extension, to discover its phenomenal fine art collection. Aly al-Deeb’s life-size paintings of peasant men were tucked away in one of the smaller rooms of the palatial Heritage Collection building at the Agricultural Museum, and I photographed them, along with many other artworks on display. 

The more I returned to my photographs of al-Deeb’s untitled series, the more intrigued I became with his subjects. There is this wonderful tension between the slightly cheesy and ethnographic feel of his realist-style techniques and his nuanced efforts to define and celebrate peasant men’s agricultural labor, artisanship, and dance practices. This makes al-Deeb one of the first formally-trained artists in Egypt to spotlight Egyptian folk arts as a key element of national cultural heritage. The result of his work at the Agricultural Museum is a powerful and complex portrait of a rising national community that was distinctly Egyptian and male. His four canvases also received many visitors during and after the museum’s inauguration in 1938 because they were originally displayed on the ground floor of one of the most popular exhibition buildings in the massive museum complex – the so-called Animal Kingdom Building. 

And, yet, scholars who write about modern Egyptian art in Arabic, English, and French rarely talk about Aly al-Deeb, let alone representations of peasant men. The lack of critical writings about the Agricultural Museum and its art collection motivated me to focus on al-Deeb’s work with even more purpose. With the exception of art historians, such as Nadia Radwan, many scholars and critics have ignored the Agricultural Museum and its fascinating combination of fine art, science, and history displays. I think this is partly because it defies neat divisions that some writers have made between the fine arts and other visual modes of expression and institution-formation in twentieth-century Egypt. Aly al-Deeb’s paintings were part of a much wider exhibition space that put art in the service of science, and vice-a-versa. But they were also crucial for Egyptian government officials who wanted to make Egyptian farming, agricultural heritage, and local products sexy for an Egyptian public that they envisioned as both citizens and consumers. 

Looking back, I am glad that the Museum of Modern Art did not work out for me, because it paved the way for a project focused on representations of peasant figures in an exhibition space as old, unique, and eclectic as the Agricultural Museum. And I love just about anything that people have overlooked or neglected because of that thing’s weirdness, because of its ability to challenge our expectations about what constitutes art, and about what art does to shape people’s understanding of their place in the world.

2)    Your paper does an incredible job of situating al-Deeb’s work within a broader visual culture in Egypt at the time drawing on illustrations in the press, ethnographic portraits, photography, and al-Deeb’s own fine arts training to unpack the work’s iconography and cultural and political significance. At the same time, you are careful also to contextualize al-Deeb’s deployment of the peasant as a figure of the nation within an international landscape of the 1930s, relating resonances of al-Deeb’s work to the social realism of Diego Riveria and American regionalists such Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton. Can you discuss the importance of this methodology to this particular moment in the history of art in Egypt as well as to the field of modern art in the Arab world?

Al-Deeb, Rivera, and Benton alike were invested in national, as well as global, debates about rural subjects and their relationship with cultural authenticity, modernity, and even anti-colonial resistance. All of these artists framed the male farmer as the key symbolic actor in these heated debates. In this way, my essay exposes the patriarchal history of cultural populism and folk-art revival on local and international levels. 

Al-Deeb’s ability to address national concerns about the role of peasant men in Egypt’s political landscape, as well as global debates about the male rural subject, has major implications for the history of art in modern Egypt. Many scholars have mapped out the relationship between Egyptian modern art, gender, and nationalism in one of two main ways: one scholarly narrative frames art production in national institutions and the avant-garde as inherently distinct and opposed; the other focuses solely on representations of women and the works of women artists. I will address the second pattern of analysis in answering the next question, but the first narrative is especially relevant here and now because there has been a flurry of exhibitions and publications about the Egyptian avant-garde of the 1930s and 40s over the past several years. Sam Bardaouil published his book about Surrealism in Egypt, and exhibitions held in Paris and Cairo have provided valuable analyses and archival information about the avant-garde Group of Art and Freedom. However, these programs and writings have sometimes drawn neat binaries between officially-sponsored and avant-garde artistic practices. 

Al-Deeb’s artistic career and his paintings of peasant men reveal profound ideological synergies between the state and the avant-garde, particularly when it comes to issues of gender, cultural authenticity, and anti-colonial thought. His Agricultural Museum paintings, at first glance, seem to portray peasant men as anonymous regional types. Yet, their monumental size, abstracted backgrounds, and affinities with portraits of male politicians elevated these rural figures to the status of national heroes – ones that could save Egypt from Western cultural and economic repression through folk art practices and agricultural labor associated specifically with rural men. What’s fascinating is that al-Deeb began creating murals, paintings, and displays at national museums in Cairo shortly after creating illustrations in 1935 for the anti-establishment publications of Les Essayistes, who were headed by Georges Henein and served as a critical precursor to the more famous Art and Freedom group. Government ministers and members of the avant-garde alike were celebrating Egyptian peasant men’s artisanal skills and manual work, and they all understood these rural figures as the protagonists of Egypt’s transformation into a country that was culturally authentic, industrious, and economically independent.

Analyzing al-Deeb’s paintings of peasant men in both the Agricultural Museum context and international developments helps break down the East/West binary that, I think, persists in many written histories of modern Arab art. We are starting to move away from the traditional preoccupation we’ve had with “Are these Arab artists mimicking or resisting Western influence?” But we still have some work to do, and, because of my training in African art, I’ve found that scholars specializing in modern and contemporary African art have given all of us art historians and art critics incredibly useful frameworks for surpassing West vs. the Rest dichotomies, as well as the attendant questions of mimicry that plagued the study of African art years ago. Fleshing out the local significance of al-Deeb’s paintings in conversation with their role in Mexican and American expressions of culturally authentic manhood shows that modern Arab art often defies simple accusations of mimicry or resistance vis-à-vis “the West.” 

3)    Gender is an important lens in your analysis. How does your work intervene in previous studies on gender and nation-building?

I think just about every book I have read on gender and nation-building in Egypt or the Middle East focuses solely on women as subjects of analysis. The only exceptions to this are a few historical sources concerned with the formation of modern masculinities in Egypt. Wilson Chacko Jacob’s book, Working Out Egypt, and Lucie Ryzova’s examinations of the effendiyaand their cultural formation accomplish this well. There is also an important anthology on manhood in the Middle East called Imagined Masculinities, edited by Mai Ghoussoub and Emma Sinclair-Webb. Besides that, many of us scholars are guilty of swapping “women” and “gender” in our writings, and in our more casual conversations with each other about research. It makes sense that we have given more attention to women and their roles in history, politics, and art over the past few decades because general histories of the world have traditionally focused on men, and many of us are trying to challenge patriarchal writings of history. I, too, analyze representations of women in my other research projects, which stem mostly from my doctoral dissertation. 

Nevertheless, I believe that making women invisible erases their contributions to our world, while making men invisible actually protects them and the pervasive nature of male dominance in most, if not all, aspects of life worldwide. I’ve stated before that the male experience, and nationalist models of masculinity, formed the backbone of populist cultural movements and regionalist practices around the globe during the period between the World Wars. And, yet, the books and articles that I pored through for information on Egyptian painting, sculpture, popular culture, and cinema rarely discussed male figures as gendered subjects. Al-Deeb created his four paintings of peasant men at a time when many countries, including Egypt, were suffering from the global economic depression, facing the dawn of yet another world war, and witnessing the deterioration of European colonial control in the so-called global South. The specter of the male body became increasingly important at this tumultuous time for symbolizing a member of a national collective that could compete on the world stage and surpass the debilitating effects of drastic economic and political change. This stood in stark contrast with artistic representations of peasant women, who often served as allegories of a country’s cultural condition or natural beauty. My hope is that my research will help people understand masculinity as something that is, and always has been, dynamic and culturally contingent, rather than “natural,” rigid, and inherently stable. A more critical lens on manhood also challenges the popular misconception that men have always navigated the world as an ungendered “standard” of human experience, against which women must always be compared.

4)    One of the oft-noted commentaries in our field is the absence of centralized and/or public archives. What are the archives you mobilized in this study?

Centralized, public archives are definitely difficult to find or access in many parts of the world, but especially in Egypt right now. According to the Agricultural Museum staff, whom I talked to in 2015, the museum has no institutional papers. I am not sure how true this is, but, when digging through the museum’s own on-site library, I did have a hard time finding any books, newspaper articles, or documents with information about the founding or curation of the Agricultural Museum. The library has some excellent early twentieth-century texts on the sciences – botany, zoology – and an original copy of Description de l’Egyptethat gave some helpful clues about the motivations and education of the museum’s first directors. These men included a set of Hungarians and an Egyptian horticulturalist by the name of Muhammad Zulficar. 

As I learned more about the Agricultural Museum’s affinities and shared history with other national museums of art, agriculture, science, and history, I started meeting with the directors of the Mahmoud Mokhtar Museum and the Ethnographic Museum at the National Geographic Society. The latter has a phenomenal collection of books and illustrations on the social and “hard” sciences, history, and civilization gleaned from Muhammad ‘Ali’s and the Khedive Ismail’s personal libraries. 

Of course, I turned to the National Archives in Cairo, but I was only given access to the files of the Abdeen Palace, and then with additional restrictions. The MoMEA’s fabled art library, first formed by the artist Ragheb Ayad, was not an option. So, I turned to any information available at the National Archives on the School of Fine Arts, and I also looked to cultural magazine and monograph publications by and about modern Egyptian artists, located at the Dar al-Kotob section of the National Archives. Periodical features on the sciences there proved very useful, as they gave me some context for the subjects of display at the Agricultural Museum, and shed light on how important scientific study was to Egyptian nationalists at the time.

Newspapers served me well, because, as I was poring through issues of al-Ahramal-Musawar, and other periodicals for features on the museum itself, and on agricultural-industrial expositions and fine art exhibitions, I also found fascinating advertisements. These soap and cosmetics ads portrayed all sorts of illustrated characters that helped me ground al-Deeb’s paintings in popular perceptions, as well as institutional narratives, of gender roles, racial identity, and nationhood in early twentieth-century Egypt. The Rare Books Collection at the American University in Cairo was a great source for postcard photographs of the Egyptian countryside and peasants from this period, as well as exhibition catalogues and personal literary collections of famed Egyptian cultural figures, such as the painter Salah Taher and the architect Hassan Fathy. I’ll add that the Netherlands-Flemish Cultural Institute in Cairo was a cheerful, welcoming space with well-preserved and highly accessible issues of al-Musawar– one of the only newspapers I have ever found that featured the inauguration of the Agricultural Museum in the 1930s.

I also accessed Arabic-language books with in-depth artist biographies and art criticism anthologies from people’s personal collections, particularly those of Hisham Ahmad at the Gezira Arts Center, Mostafa al-Razzaz from the Faculty of Fine Arts, Helwan, and contemporary artists Khaled Hafez, Yasser Mongy, Mohamed ‘Abla, and ‘Ezz al-Din Naguib. ‘Abla also founded a museum of Egyptian caricature in Fayoum, where you can find a small library with earlier periodicals about the folk arts, and books for purchase on the history of political cartoons and caricature in Egypt. Such sources are a fantastic avenue for examining the relationship between popular and fine arts relevant to my study of peasant men subjects. International sources came from the digitized collections found on France’s National Library website, as well as the Harvard Libraries, the latter of which often had more comprehensive and better-preserved collections of early twentieth-century Egyptian texts. All of this being said, if you want to access a centralized archive for modern Egyptian art and visual culture, you have to create it through movement in the city, travel outside of it, and, of course, through meetings with many people – both planned and impromptu.

5)    What are some of the challenges and possibilities defining the study of modern art in the Arab world and Africa today?

The fields of modern African and modern Arab art today often deal with the same artists and artworks, if not the same regions of the world – many people living in Africa, and indigenous to the continent, speak Arabic as a primary language. So, historians of modern art from the African continent and other Arabic-speaking regions of the world are often dealing with the same challenges. I think the most significant challenge facing us today is dealing with the canon of art. It’s not just the canon of art made by and for western Europe and the United States that we have had to reckon with. We’re also increasingly having to confront canons of African and Arab art, respectively. Scholars, art critics, and artists from postcolonial nations in Africa and the Middle East have played a significant role in forming these latter canons. But scholars in many parts of the world want to put a spotlight on artists coming from Africa and the Arabic-speaking world because the Western canon of art has marginalized these figures. Yet, in the process of determining which artists are important to examine and learn about, you inevitably have to determine which ones are not so important. Who decides what is important? And how? Should we, as scholars and educators in higher learning institutions, base the subjects of our analyses on particular topics or issues? Time periods? Mediums? Styles? 

The formation, and disintegration, of a canon of African art has come to mind, especially now, because I teach surveys of African art based on a textbook that has been out of print for years. Several of the scholars that pioneered the study of African art in its own right during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s are passing away, and there seems to be a vacuum in publications that help create guidelines for some type of canon, a guiding framework for a survey, of African art. While the traditional canon of “classical” African art focused disproportionately on sculptural works made by men without formal art training during the 19thand early 20thcenturies, primarily in rural areas of West and Central Africa, scholars of African art active over the past twenty to thirty years have been disrupting the canon. Studies of formally trained artists from Africa and the African Diaspora working in painting, multimedia installation, sculpture, and video are helping achieve this, and they are also dispelling the myth of the “ethnographic present” that sometimes created the allure of ritual, male-made artworks that drew in earlier generations of scholars. However, the downside of this development is that studies of modern African art are starting to entirely replace critical studies of the “classical” African art I mentioned before. I think we need to find some way to bridge the two camps of African art history so that we and our students can benefit from learning about African artistic production in its particular sociohistorical and cultural contexts.

The field of modern Arab art is a bit newer than that of African art, both in the U.S. and worldwide, which has an impact on determining whether there is even a canon of modern Arab art to begin with. There is certainly a canon of modern Egyptian art, particularly in the Arabic-language literature on the topic! However, I’ve noticed one or two patterns in the wider field of modern Arab art. One of the most upsetting has been the tendency of many scholars and art dealers to interchange modern Arab art with “modern Islamic art.” There is nothing inherently “Christian” about the work of, say, Andy Warhol or Pablo Picasso, so why should there be anything “Islamic” about the works of artists who identify as Arab, or who come from Arabic-speaking, or even Muslim-majority, countries? Furthermore, even when dealing with religious and spiritual themes apparent in works of art from these regions, it is important to consider that sizeable numbers of Arabic-speakers are Christians, many of whom make art themselves. I am not denying that Islam has had a major impact on many realms of life, and, in some cases, art-making. But, our fixation in the English- and French-speaking worlds on Islam as a style or defining characteristic of modern Arab art comes from our obsession with the Other in the art world, the latter of which is based on western European and American understandings of Christianity, secularism, identity, and politics. If we want to make exhibitions and publications that enrich our understanding of modern Arab art, we should think a little bigger, a little more creatively, than high-definition images of exotic Arab women with veils and “Islamic” calligraphy.

Possibilities for the studies of modern African and Arab art moving forward come to life when we put the two fields in direct conversation: how can we mobilize the methods of one field to open conceptual horizons for the other? Translated anthologies of key artist and art critical writings, such as Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents, provide a great model for similar books on modern African art – many of its creators’ writings and manifestos, and the essays of African modern art critics, have yet to be published in accessible and collective form. Scholars of modern Arab art, in turn, have much to learn from those specialized in modern African art, particularly when it comes to questions of racial representation, diasporic experience, and the power of contemporary art exhibitions to represent and marginalize artist voices, and to form new art canons.

6)    Can you share a little about your current research projects?Right now, I am developing my writing and research on Aly al-Deeb’s paintings of peasant men and masculinity from my dissertation and converting it into a journal article. Representations of the Sudanese and East Africans in modern Egyptian painting from the Agricultural Museum have been the main topic of a concurrent study, which I plan to develop and publish as another peer-reviewed article in the next year or so. This second project is exciting because, in it, I deal with the very question of Egypt’s racial and cultural identity vis-à-vis its home continent of Africa: is Egypt “African” or “Mediterranean”? How did Egypt’s colonial history in the Sudan impact artistic representations of the Sudanese? And what does that have to do with Africa? What I’ve found is that artworks created for the Agricultural Museum’s original Sudan section played a major role in distancing Egyptians and their modernity from the supposedly primitive condition of the Sudan, the latter of which, to many Egyptians, represented an African frontier. Gender roles played just as prominent of a role in paintings and sculptures of Sudanese and East African subjects as they did for their Egyptian counterparts found in other parts of the museum. My upcoming publications take an intersectional approach to examining the place of Sudanese male and female subjects in Egyptian nationalist models of manhood and femininity, respectively. In fact, paintings of Sudanese warriors were the antithesis to the ideal masculinity and citizenship we see represented in al-Deeb’s visual ode to heroic Egyptian peasant men. Stay tuned!

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AMCA at CAA 2020

The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) may sponsor a session at next year’s CAA Annual Conference, to be held in Chicago, February 12-15, 2020. We are currently seeking session proposals from our members. Proposals are encouraged for Complete Sessions (which include the individual presenters/papers), though this is not necessary. 

Session organizer(s): Please submit a 250-word summary of your session proposal to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by Apr. 19, 2019 for consideration by CAA’s Apr. 30, 2019 deadline. If you have a Complete Session, include the names and affiliations of all session participants, presentation titles, and abstract texts. Please note that if selected for AMCA sponsorship, the chair or co-chairs will be responsible for submitting the proposal to and communicating with CAA directly. Note that for Sessions Seeking Contributors, if selected by CAA, the session abstract will be included in the call for participation (CFP), which opens June 25, 2019.

The chair or co-chairs should be current AMCA members (visit http://amcainternational.org) and current CAA members. For further information on CAA’s panel submission guidelines, visit: http://www.collegeart.org/programs/conference/proposals

We look forward to receiving your proposals! 

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In collaboration with Saradar Collection and Anthem Press, AMCA announces a call for papers for publication. The publication will accompany the first iteration of Saradar’s annual project, Perspective, in which a guest curator is invited to engage critically, through a variety of platforms, with a theme inspired by the collection. This year’s inaugural project, Witness to a Golden Age: Mapping Beirut’s Art Scene, 1955-1975, is curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. Using a selection of artworks from the collection as a starting point, they have amassed an unprecedented amount of archival materials and primary sources consisting of more than 1,000 newspaper articles, unpublished letters, photographs, exhibition materials, and film footage of exhibitions and studio visits that span two decades of artistic production and cover more than 50 of the most active art spaces in Beirut between 1955 and 1975. This considerable corpus is featured on a dedicated website in the form of a searchable map and interactive timeline: http://saradarperspective.com/perspective1

The winning submission will receive an honorarium to research and write a scholarly biography of one artwork from the Saradar Collection that dates to the period of 1955-1975 ( http://www.saradar.com/ContentFiles/1239PDFLink.pdf). The manuscript (20,000-30,000 words) will be published in paperback format by Anthem Press as part of The Anthem Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey series (for details on the series, see below).

To submit a proposal, please email a CV and 500-word abstract that includes the significance of the chosen artwork to amcainternational@gmail.org. The deadline for proposals is May 1 2019. The manuscript is to be submitted to AMCA on November 1 2019 for peer review and editing before publication by Anthem Press.  

The Anthem Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey series publishes scholarly biographies of art works from the region. Each publication traces the historical trajectory of an individual artwork, from the circumstances of production (including artist’s biography and socio-cultural context of place) through its exhibition history with collectors and museums. This series is published in collaboration with The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA). http://amcainternational.org/anthem-press/

The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) is a private, non-profit, non-political, international organization. An affiliate organization of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and the College Art Association (CAA), AMCA aims to advance the study of this emerging field through the creation of a network of interested scholars and organizations. We will facilitate communication and cooperation among those in the field by sponsoring conferences, holding meetings, and exchanging information via a newsletter and website. http://amcainternational.org

Saradar Collection is an initiative built around a private collection with a public mission to preserve, study and share modern and contemporary art from Lebanon. Continuously expanding, the collection contains more than 250 works of art by over 40 artists dating from 1917 until today. Initiated by Mario Saradar in 2012, Saradar Collection is part of Marius Saradar Holding, a family-owned business. As international interest in Lebanese art is increasing, the initiative’s aim is to support local artists and ensure that a significant part of the country’s artistic heritage is preserved and shared. http://www.saradarcollection.com/ 

Drs. Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath are internationally recognized independent curators and academics, and founders of Art Reoriented, a multidisciplinary curatorial platform based in Munich and New York. They are Chairmen of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation in Hamburg, and Affiliate Curators at the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin. Bardaouil and Fellrath have held teaching positions at various universities including the London School of Economics and New York University. They are award-winning authors and editors of numerous publications with contributions to a broad range of academic journals, books, newspapers and art magazines. Their curatorial practice is equally rooted in the field of modernist studies, as well as in global contemporary artistic practices. www.artreoriented.com

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AMCA Panel at CAA 2019

The Artist and the Allegory: Locating “the Feminine” in Modern Arab Art

 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019: 10:30am-12:00pm
New York Hilton Midtown – 2nd Floor – Bryant Suite

 

Panel Chairs: Alessandra Amin, PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, UCLA and Nisa Ari, PhD Candidate, Department of the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture, MIT
Panel Discussant: Dr. Jessica Gerschultz, Assistant Professor, Department of African and African-American Studies, University of Kansas

 

Papers:
Two Arab Female Photographers in Conversation: Karimeh Abboud in Palestine and Marie el-Khazen in Lebanon
Yasmine Nachabe Taan, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Design, Lebanese American University

 

Beyond Umm Al-Dunya: New Representations of Fellaha Women in Egyptian Modern Art
Sarah Dwider, PhD Student, Department of Art History, Northwestern University

 

Love in the Time of Arafat: Sexuality and Political Engagement in Prewar Beirut
Alessandra Amin, PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, UCLA
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CFP: AMCA at MESA 2019

The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) may sponsor two panels at this year’s Middle East Studies Association (MESA) meeting, to be held in New Orleans, November 14-17, 2019. Panel organizers: Please submit a 300-400-word panel summary in addition to individual paper abstracts to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by February 7, 2019. AMCA board members will vote to select two panels for submission to MESA, and chosen panels will submit their proposals to the MESA website. Please note that all panelists must be current AMCA members (visithttp://amcainternational.org). For further information on panel submission guidelines, visit: https://mesana.org/annual-meeting/call-for-papers

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The Anthem Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey series publishes scholarly biographies of art works from the region. Each publication traces the historical trajectory of an individual art work, from the circumstances of production (including artist’s biography and socio-cultural context of place) through its exhibition history with collectors and museums. This series is published in collaboration with The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA).

Series Editor

Sarah Rogers – AMCA & Independent Scholar, USA
Nada Shabout – AMCA & University of North Texas, USA


PROPOSALS

We welcome submissions of proposals for challenging and original works from emerging and established scholars that meet the criteria of our series. We make prompt editorial decisions. Our titles are published in print and e-book editions and are subject to peer review by recognized authorities in the field. Should you wish to send in a proposal, please contact us at: proposal@anthempress.com.

Proposal Guidelines

Anthem Press

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Deadline: December 15, 2018

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2019 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. Established in 2010, the award aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize honors our respected colleague and dear friend, Rhonda (1979-2010), who was, at the time of her tragic passing, in the process of researching a doctoral dissertation on modern Palestinian art in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. Over the last eight years, the prize has recognized excellence in graduate work completed on a variety of subjects in a number of disciplines at universities in the U.S. and abroad. This year’s competition is open to graduate students as well as to recent post-doctoral students who earned a PhD no earlier than 2016.

The prize is offered to a graduate student or recent PhD working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. Submissions must have been produced between June 2016 – December 2018, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by December 15, 2018.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held this year at the College Art Association Annual Meeting in New York City, February 13-16th 2019. The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.

For a listing of past recipients, visit: http://amcainternational.org/rhonda-a-saad-prize/

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Transregional Solidarity


At this moment of history, biennials seem to be a necessary evil. They have been challenged, contested, transformed, and critiqued. In retrospect, the Arab Biennial as a project has been overclouded by its politics and seen as a failure. Nevertheless, the genealogy of the biennial has its roots in a historical necessity that started through an artists’ initiative. The formation of the General Union of Arab Plastic Artists (al-Ittihad al-‘amm li-l-fannanin at-tashkiliyin al-‘arab) in 1971, registered Arab artists’ position and strong need for a shared forum and unity. The awareness of their fragmented existence within what has been argued throughout most of the twentieth century as a transnational collective strength in the form of pan-Arabism, was manifest in their need for better representation. As their contact increased through robust print media and scholarship programs, their desires for a stronger presence in the art scene equally intensified. Moreover, within the plethora of creative activities across the region, several moments of intense overlapping discussions had signaled parallel, if not intersecting interests and concerns.

Equally, as pan-Arabism rhetoric climaxed, Arab artists’ work became more interactive. More importantly, the cultural crisis which accompanied the 1967 Naksa (Arab armies rapid loss to Israel) added new demands on them. Correspondingly, a proliferation of cross-regional conversations and debates erupted. They tackled topics that centered on the properties of good art as well as new art practices and contemporary theories appropriate for their moment. Their intention was to explore and define the role of the visual arts in the making of the future Arab culture. Moreover, this collective of artists was in many ways modeled to parallel the various other Arab unity initiatives of the time, such as the United Arab Physicians, United Arab Engineers, and United Arab Writers. Their position also corresponded to certain political initiatives that centered around regional unity. In April 1971 the Federation of Arab Republics uniting Egypt, Libya, and Syria was announced and was effective from 1972 to 1977.

One could argue that the formation of the General Union was also a response to an earlier, failed attempt to present a united front by the Arab League to organize an Arab Artists Conference. Instead, the latter attempt was spearheaded by well-known and active individual artists who acted upon the personal need to unite. The Iraqi artist Jameel Hamoudi was designated to take a trip around the major cities of the Arab world to discuss the initiative. In the summer of 1971, a small group of artists from Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon met in Beirut and collectively drafted the founding statement of the Union of Arab Plastic Artists. In December of the same year, the First Arab Conference of Fine Arts (al-Mu’tammar al-‘arabi al-awwal li-l-funun al-jamila) was organized by the Syrian Association of Plastic Artists in Damascus. The program of the conference included several papers by artists Mahmoud Hammad and Fateh al-Moudarres, along with a number of other major artists, discussing a range of topics that included the current conditions of Arab artists in the various Arab cities; positions of Arab artists and Arab art within twentieth-century art, as well as in relation to Arab and other cultures; and the role of art and artists (in terms of duties and obligations) in the struggles of the Arab world.

Read more…

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Lebanon in the Constellation of Modernist Tapestry: Jessica Gerschultz in conversation with Yasmine Chemali,” Thursday, 5 July 2018, 19:00 to 20:30.

Jessica Gerschultz is an Assistant Professor in the Department of African and African-American Studies at the University of Kansas.

Yasmine Chemali is the Head of Collections at the Sursock Museum.

https://sursock.museum/content/lebanon-constellation-modernist-tapestry

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The CAA-Getty International Program, generously supported by the Getty Foundation, provides funding for twenty art historians, museum curators, and artists who teach art history to attend CAA’s Annual Conferences. The goal of the project is to increase international participation in CAA, to diversify the association’s membership, and to foster collaborations between North American art historians, artists, and curators and their international colleagues. Apply for the 2019 CAA-Getty International Program

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World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Seville, July 16th – 20th 2018

For full program: http://wocmes2018seville.org/web/images/doc/programme/final-programme.pdf.

PA-114. Modernism and Islam: The case of Iraq. Sponsored by The International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS) in Collaboration with the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab world, Iran and Turkey (AMCA).Organised by Tareq Ismael, International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS) and International Association of Middle Eastern Studies (IAMES).

July 17th, 2018

5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Room: 108 Grados

Chair: Nada Shabout, University of North Texas.

Nada Shabout, University of North Texas: ‘Jewad Selim: Performing continuity in art’.

Saleem Al-Bahloly, Johns Hopkins University: ‘The turn to Islamic mysticism after the Ba’ath coup of 1963’.

Elizabeth Rauh, University of Michigan: ‘The colored horizons of Karbala: Rafa Nasiri and contemporary printmaking in 1960s Iraq’.

Tiffany Floyd, Columbia University: ‘The time of violence: Faisal Laibi Sahi’s The War, tragedy of Karbala and the aesthetic transcendence of suffering’.

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Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers and Nada Shabout are celebrating the launch of their new edited volume Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (2018) with AKPIA@MIT. The event will take place on Thursday, May 24, 2018 6-8 PM in the Stella Room, and the roundtable discussion will be moderated by AKPIA students Sarah Rifky and Suheyla Takesh.

Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (2018)–an anthology of translated art writing by artists and intellectuals in the Arab world of the twentieth century–offers an unparalleled resource for the study of modernism. Many of the published texts are appearing for the first time in English, and include manifestos, essays, discussion transcripts, diary entries and letters. The book is the eighth volume in The Museum of Modern Art’s Primary Documents series, which offers access to essential documents for the study of global modernism. This edition, includes sixteen new entries, by the editors and other scholars, and a new essay by the historian and Arab-studies scholar Ussama Makdisi providing a historical overview of the region’s intertwined political and cultural developments in the twentieth century.

During this event, we will talk to the editors about how this project came about, the intricacies and challenges of the creating this archive, the challenges of organizing, selecting and contextualizing the material included in the book, and more broadly what bearings this project has on new histories of global modernism under construction.

Anneka Lenssen is Assistant Professor of Global Modern Art, at UC-Berkeley. She received her PhD in 2014 from the History, Theory, Criticism program and Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT. Her current book project, Beautiful Agitation: Modern Painting in Syria and the Arab East, is a study of avant-garde painting and the making of Syria as a contested territory between 1920 and 1970.

Sarah Rogers is an independent scholar. She earned her PhD in 2008 from the History, Theory and Criticism program, where she wrote her dissertation “Post-war Art and the Historical Roots of Beirut’s Cosmopolitanism.” She is a founding member of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA) and is currently editing a collection of essays on the Khalid Shoman Private Collection.

Nada Shabout is a Professor of Art History and the Coordinator of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Initiative (CAMSCI) at the University of North Texas. She is author of Modern Arab Art: Formation of Arab Aesthetics (2007) and the founding president of the Association of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA), and has served as Consulting Director of Research at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha. She has curated a number of exhibition including the inaugural show Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art, at Mathaf, in Doha in 2010.

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On May 15, 2018, seventy years after the nakba, the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) condemns the violent attacks, including the use of live ammunition, on Palestinian civilians protesting in Gaza and throughout the Occupied Territories.
Throughout the past seven weeks, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been protesting, calling for the right of return for Palestinian refugees to the areas from which they were forcibly expelled in 1948. Since the protests began on March 30, Israeli forces have killed at least 109 Palestinians and wounded about 12,000 people.
There can be no peace process without an end to the occupation.
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Please join us for launch events in Beirut on April 28 and in New York on May 23 to celebrate the publication of Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (2018), edited by Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, and Nada Shabout.

Saturday, April 28, 2018
17:00–21:00 (5:00–9:00 p.m.)
The Sursock Museum

Auditorium, Level 2 and Museum Store
Greek Orthodox Archbishopric Street
Ashrafieh 20715509
Beirut, Lebanon

Conversation with Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, Nada Shabout, co-editors of the book, and Zeina Arida, Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum, with introduction by Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018
6:00–8:00 p.m. (18:00–20:00)
The Museum of Modern Art

The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2
11 West 53 Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues)
New York, NY 10019

Conversation with Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, Nada Shabout, co-editors of the book, and Iftikhar Dadi, Cornell University, with introduction by Glenn D. Lowry, MoMA.

Admission for both events is free, with seating offered on a first-come, first-served basis. RSVP is required for the New York launch.

RSVP for May 23 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Both events will bring to life Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents and the book’s diverse content, multiple collaborators, and rich source materials that aim to further the study of modernism in a global frame.

Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents offers an unprecedented resource for the study of modernism: a compendium of critical art writings by 20th-century Arab intellectuals and artists. The selection of texts—many of which appear for the first time in English—includes manifestos, essays, transcripts of roundtable discussions, diary entries, exhibition guest-book comments, and letters. Traversing empires and nation-states, diasporas and speculative cultural and political federations, the documents bring to light the formation of a global modernism that includes debates on originality, public space, spiritualism and art, postcolonial exhibition politics, and Arab nationalism. The sourcebook is framed chronologically, and features contextualizing commentaries and essays to assist readers in navigating its broad geographic and historical scope. A newly commissioned essay by Ussama Makdisi provides a historical overview of the region’s intertwined political and cultural developments during the 20th century.

Speakers:

Zeina Arida is the director of the Nicolas Ibrahim Sursock Museum in Beirut.

Iftikhar Dadi is associate professor in the Department of The History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University.

Anneka Lenssen is assistant professor of Global Modern Art in the History of Art Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

Glenn D. Lowry is director of The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Sarah Rogers is an independent scholar.

Nada Shabout is professor of art history in the College of Visual Arts and Design and the coordinator of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Initiative at the University of North Texas.

Leadership support for Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents was provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Major support was provided by Misk Art Institute and by Zaza Jabre. Generous funding was provided by an anonymous donor, The Fran and Ray Stark Foundation, Rana Sadik and Samer Younis, Darat al Funun – The Khalid Shoman Foundation, Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, The Kamel Lazaar Foundation, Geneva/Tunis, Barjeel Art Foundation, Marieluise Hessel Artzt, and other donors.

Special thanks to Sursock Museum and to Zaza Jabre for their support of the launch event in Beirut.

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Conference

Process in Modern and Contemporary Islamic Art

Helmut Stern Auditorium, University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)
April 14, 2018, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM

The event is open to the public and entrance is free.

Islamic art history is an object-centered discipline. Its subject matter generally fits into a frame, vitrine, or photograph. Recent scholarship has departed from these rigid image boundaries, investigating the affective and performative qualities of Islamic artworks. This conference takes the next step and explores the significance of process itself in art-making, in time-based art forms such as performance art and moving images, as well as in conceptualizations of art as Islamic. The papers address Islamic art and related practices of the twentieth and twenty-first century from China, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America. The angle on the aesthetic value of process thereby opens new perspectives on how artists have shaped, claimed, and reclaimed Islamic art histories and futures.

9:00 AM
Coffee

9:15 – 09:30 AM
Introduction: Contours of Art
Martina Becker, University of Michigan

9:30 – 11:00 AM
Chair: Elizabeth Sears, University of Michigan
Fragments of a City in Flux: Ahmet Süheyl Ünver’s Art of Islam in 1920s Istanbul
Timur Hammond, Syracuse University

Vivid Ruins: Destruction as Process in Contemporary Iraqi Art
Elizabeth Rauh, University of Michigan

Coffee break

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Chair: Martina Becker

Islamic Calligraphy as Process Art in the Contemporary Museum
Emily Neumeier, Ohio State University

The Performed Symbolism of Islamic Ritual Practice in Contemporary Art
Nadia Kurd, Banff Centre for the Arts

Lunch break

2:30 – 4:00 PM
Chair: Nachiket Chanchani, University of Michigan

Process, Performance, and Temporality in Chaza Charafeddine’s “Divine Comedy”: A Critique of Contemporary Gender Politics in the Middle East
Charlotte Bank, Berlin

Cinema and Islamic Art: Transcendence and Eco-theology in the Filmmaking of Jamil Dehlavi
Ali Nobil Ahmad, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin

Coffee break

4:30 – 6:00 PM
Chair: Farina Mir, University of Michigan

Early Filmmaking and Islam: Content, Acting, and Directing in the Late Ottoman Empire
Özde Çeliktemel-Thomen, University College London

Roundtable
The speakers in conversation with Iftikhar Dadi, Cornell University, and Martina Becker

This conference is organized by Martina Becker. It has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 705709 – ENART. Cosponsors are the University of Michigan Department of the History of Art, the Department of Near Eastern Studies, the Islamic Studies Program, the Center for South Asian Studies, and the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

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Expression of Interest
Editors:
Dr Qassim Saad
Dr Tony Fry

The book title:
Design and Eastern Arab Countries1: Its Past, Present & Future
The aim of this book is to provide a clear overview of the region that stimulates debate, gives direction to the development of design education, and provides an agenda that would strategically inform practitioners.

Respondents to the Expression of Interest are invited to propose a topic for a 5,000-word essay in one of the three parts of the book.

Part 1. Looking back on the history of design: tradition, colonialism and modernity
The topics invited would all critically reflect upon the relation between the place of design and the pre-modern, modern and contemporary history of the region.

Part 2. An evaluation of ‘the now’: what is the present picture of design practices and education in the region? This question is posed against the backdrop of conflict, political instability, economic circumstances, and socio-cultural problems and possibilities.

Part 3. Futuring the Region: How can design education, knowledge and practices contribute to the repair and transformation of the region so that it is better able to meet its challenges and constitute a viable and equitable future for all the societies of the region.

Please send a one-page Expression of Interest (12pt double spaced) with the following information:

  • The chapter title and abstract
  • Your name and position
  • Work address
  • The email address:
  • And a short Bio (150) word

Please, send your contribution by Monday 30th/April/2018

To: qassim.saad@gmail.com

At this stage, we would like to receive EOI’s with chapters written either in English or Arabic


1 These are the countries geographically located from Iraq to Egypt
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CFP: AMCA at CAA 2019

AMCA may sponsor a session at next year’s CAA Annual Conference, to be held in New York City, February 13-16, 2019. We are currently seeking session proposals from our members. Proposals are encouraged for Complete Sessions (which include the individual presenters/papers), though this is not necessary.

Session organizer(s): Please submit a 250-word summary of your session proposal to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by Apr. 15, 2018 for consideration by CAA’s Apr. 27, 2018 deadline. If you have a Complete Session, include the names and affiliations of all session participants, presentation titles, and abstract texts. Please note that if selected for AMCA sponsorship, the chair or co-chairs will be responsible for submitting the proposal to and communicating with CAA directly. Note that for Sessions Seeking Contributors, if selected by CAA, the session abstract will be included in the call for participation (CFP), which opens May 14, 2018.

The chair or co-chairs should be current AMCA members (visit http://amcainternational.org)and current CAA members. For further information on CAA’s panel submission guidelines, visit:

http://www.collegeart.org/programs/conference/proposals.

We look forward to receiving your proposals!

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This year’s CAA in Los Angeles features two panels sponsored by AMCA and HIAA (Historians of Islamic Art) back to back in the same room on Thursday, Feb. 22. The HIAA panel, beginning at 10:30 a.m., precedes the AMCA panel, which starts at 2:00. Please find the details below. We look forward to seeing you there!

AMCA-Sponsored Panel at CAA

ISLAMIC ART CIRCA 1900

Time: 02/22/20182:00PM–3:30PM
Location: Room 503

Chair: Alex Dika Seggerman, Yale University

“Islamic Art and the Turn to Tapestry: Women Artists in Tunis.” Jessica Gerschultz, University of Kansas

“The Muybridge Albums in Istanbul: Photography as Diplomacy in the Late Ottoman Empire,” Emily Neumeier, The Ohio State University

“From Calligraphy to Handicraft: Art Education Reform in the Late Ottoman Empire,”
Martina Becker, University of Michigan

“Alabaster and Emulsion: Photographs of Muhammad Ali Architecture,” Alex Dika Seggerman, Yale University

Preceded by HIAA-Sponsored Panel:

THE “THREE EMPIRES” REDUX: ISLAMIC INTERREGIONALITY IN THE AGE OF MODERNITY

Time: 02/22/201810:30AM–12:00PM
Location: Room 503

Chairs: Chanchal Dadlani, Wake Forest University; Ünver Rüstem, Johns Hopkins University

“Transcultural Compilations in Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Albums: Connecting the Islamicate World through Material Exchange and Literary Imagination,”  Gwendolyn Collaço, Harvard University

“Remembering Rūm: Worldly Milieus and the “Bastard” Architecture of Colonial Modernity in a Hindu Pilgrimage Site,”   Sugata Ray, University of California, Berkeley

“The Nasir al-Din Shah Album: A Narrative of Collecting from the Mughals to the Qajars”
Naciem Nikkhah, University of Cambridge

“Imperium Camera: How Photography Revolutionized Islamicate Empires in the Nineteenth Century,”   Staci Gem Scheiwiller, California State University, Stanislaus

Discussant: Anastassia Botchkareva, Independent Scholar

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Please save the following dates for launch events in Beirut and New York of the forthcoming publication Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents.
Beirut
Saturday, April 28th, 5 pm to 9 pm at Sursock Museum
New York
Wednesday, May 23rd, 6 pm to 8 pm at The Museum of Modern Art
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AMCA congratulates Sarah C. Johnson for her winning submission, “Impure Time: Archaeology, Hafidh Druby (1914-1991), and the persistence of representational art in mid-twentieth century Iraq (1940-1980).” Combining Arabic and English archival sources with visual analysis, the paper looks at the way the process of archaeology encouraged Iraqi artists, such as Hafidh Druby (1914- 1991), to create representational narrative artworks and how archaeology legitimized representational painting as a valid form of modern art.

Sarah C. Johnson is a doctoral candidate at the Freie Universität in Berlin, where she is completing a dissertation on the Iraqi modern artist Hafidh Druby (1914-1991). Previously she was a curator of Islamic Collections at the British Museum in London and a researcher at the Freer and Sackler Galleries in Washington, DC. She completed her master’s degree in Islamic art and archaeology at the University of Oxford in 2014 and her undergraduate degree in art and archaeology at Princeton University in 2010. She is currently based in Beirut as a Doctoral Fellow at the Orient Institut.

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The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) may sponsor two panels at this year’s Middle East Studies Association (MESA) meeting, to be held in San Antonio, Texas, November 15-18, 2018. Panel organizers: Please submit a 300-400-word panel summary in addition to individual paper abstracts to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by February 7, 2018. AMCA board members will vote to select two panels for submission to MESA, and chosen panels will submit their proposals to the MESA website. Please note that all panelists must be current AMCA members (visit http://amcainternational.org). For further information on panel submission guidelines, visit: http://mesana.org/annual-meeting/cfp_programmatic.html#panel

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SUNDAY NOVEMBER 19, 10:30AM-12:30PM

The Islamic and the Modern in the Twentieth Century Visual Middle East

Organizers: Saleem Al-Bahloly and Nada M. Shabout

Discussants: Nasser O. Rabbat, MIT and Elizabeth Rauh, University of Michigan

Sarah-Neel Smith, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA): A Mid-Westerner in the Middle East: Abby Weed Grey’s art collections of the 1960s

Nada M. Shabout, University of North Texas: Istilham: Jewad Selim’s negotiation of continuity in art

Saleem Al-Bahloly, Johns Hopkins University: Shakir Hassan Al Said’s theology of line, or the turn to Islamic philosophy after the Ba’ath Coup of 1963 

The intellectual and artistic life of the Middle East during the twentieth-century has been characterized by two currents: on the one hand, a rediscovery or renewal of the Islamic tradition, and on the other, the introduction of new means of expression in the field of the visual arts, architecture, design and cinema. Rarely, however, are these two currents thought together outside of the frame of a conflict.

The prevailing understanding had been that to be a modern artist, one had to look for resources outside of tradition. Thus, modern artists mostly shied away from the artistic traditions of Islam. The debate that ensued about tradition and modernity in much of the Middle East during the mid of the twentieth-century was centered around a call for authenticity. At stake in authenticity was not only a need for self-assertion in in a postcolonial context, but equally a search to establish art historical continuity. The debate was at best apologetic and at worse deprived artists of creative possibilities.

The relationship between the aesthetics of Islamic art and modernism in the Middle East, however, has been negotiated by artists and architects in more complex and nuanced ways. This panel explores the interaction between elements of the Islamic tradition and the development of new forms of art practice in the visual arts and architecture. Papers presented aim to understand the ways in which the Islamic tradition has offered formal and conceptual resources to modern artists and architects confronted with a crisis of representation provoked by the region’s political history.

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University of Michigian, Ann Arbor
April 14, 2018

Islamic art history is an object-centered discipline. Its subject matter generally fits into a frame, vitrine, or photograph. But image boundaries are fuzzy. New materialism, thing theory, transregional studies—by now, many approaches have revealed the performative and affective qualities of Islamic artworks. However, the relevance of process as an aesthetic value itself remains, if acknowledged at all, vague.

Have artists who do not necessarily identify with the rubric of Islamic art drawn on the spiritual function of Islamic creative practices as a means of transcendence? Have time-based art forms of the twentieth or twenty-first century revealed performative facets of past Islamic artworks or questioned their objecthood? What were the ethical implications of the objectification of Islamic art at the onset of its modern historiography? Could thinking through process prove a useful corrective? Can this lens on the modern and contemporary period provide insights into the performative aspects of premodern Islamic art?

This conference aims to investigate such questions and to claim ground for the recognition of process in Islamic art and the discussion of the methodological ramifications of its study for Islamic art history and adjacent disciplines. Papers that investigate art that transcends contained form or happens independently are particularly welcome. Other issues of interest include: process as medium in performance art, film, video, and other time-based expressions; the status of the creative act in conceptions of art; and the animation of art works in their afterlife through multiples and reproductions.

To apply, please submit a 250-word proposal and a brief curriculum vitae to Martina Becker (mtbecker@umich.edu) by December 1, 2017. Participants’ airfare and hotel accommodations will be covered by a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant, and it is planned that accepted papers will be published as an edited volume or themed journal issue.

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AMCA Panel at DIWAN7

Art, Pedagogy, and Activism is an AMCA panel at the Arab American National Museum’s arts conference, DIWAN. This year DIWAN7 is part of MOVE 2017, a new national summit that will highlight the collective power of the Arab American community by uniting philanthropists, artists, community organizations, activists and organizers, youth, and non-Arab allies. AMCA panelists include co-organizers Sarah Rogers and Dina Ramadan, Haytham Bahoora, Amira Pierce, and Hanan Toukan. Please note that the AMCA panel will be on Friday, Nov. 17 from 4:00-5:15 at the Dearborn Inn.

The full DIWAN7 schedule can be found at http://www.diwanart.org/schedule/.

The MOVE 2017 schedule (which includes DIWAN7) and registration info are available at

https://www.move2017.org/schedule/ and https://www.move2017.org/registration/.

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Deadline: December 15, 2017

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2018 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. Established in 2010, the award aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize honors our respected colleague and dear friend, Rhonda (1979-2010), who was, at the time of her tragic passing, in the process of researching a doctoral dissertation on modern Palestinian art in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. Over the last seven years, the prize has recognized excellence in graduate work completed on a variety of subjects in a number of disciplines at universities in the U.S. and abroad. This year’s competition is open to graduate students as well as to recent post-doctoral students who earned a PhD no earlier than 2015.

The prize is offered to a graduate student or recent PhDs working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. Submissions must have been produced between June 2016 – December 2017, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by December 15, 2017.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held this year at the College Art Association Annual Meeting at the LA Convention Center, February 21-24 2018. The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.

For a list of past recipients and their winning papers, please go to http://amcainternational.org/rhonda-a-saad-prize/

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In Memoriam

Dr.-Dina-BangdelIt is with a heavy heart that AMCA announces the passing of our dear colleague and AMCA member, Dr. Dina Bangdel. She passed away in the U.S. on July 25, following complications from a sinusitis surgery.

A scholar of South Asian, Indian, and Himalayan art, Dr. Bangdel was the Director of Art History at VCUQATAR, where she had taught since 2005. In 2014, Dr. Bangdel served on the conference committee for the International Forum on Contemporary Islamic Art, Design, and Architecture: Where/How does the North meet the East, a joint conference of Nanyang Technological University, AMCA, and VCUQatar.

In addition to her scholarship, Dr. Bangdel had curated several exhibitions, including Circle of Bliss: Buddhist Meditational Art (2003, finalist for the Alfred Barr Award for best exhibition catalogue) at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pilgrimage and Faith: Buddhism, Christianity and Islam (2010) at the Rubin Museum, New York, Prakriti Speaks: Contemporary Nepali Art (2011) in Mumbai. Following the 2015 earthquake in Napal, Dina spearheaded a number of projects focused on heritage preservation and cultural recovery.

AMCA sends its deepest condolences to her family, friends, colleagues, and students.

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The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) may sponsor a session at next year’s College Art Association (CAA) Annual Conference, to be held in Los Angeles, February 21-24, 2018. We are currently seeking session proposals from our members. Proposals need not include the individual presenters/papers at this date to be considered.

Session organizer(s): Please submit a 250-word summary of your session proposal to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by Apr. 15, 2017 for consideration by CAA’s Apr. 17, 2017 deadline. Please note that if selected for AMCA sponsorship, the chair or co-chairs will be responsible for submitting their proposals to the CAA website directly, though AMCA will provide you with the required note of approval. If selected by CAA, such sessions will be included in the call for participation (CFP) which opens June 30.

The chair or co-chairs should be current AMCA members (visit http://amcainternational.org) and current CAA members. For further information on CAA’s panel submission guidelines, visit: https://caa.submittable.com/submit.

We look forward to receiving your proposals!

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Getting Nude: Artists, Audiences, and the Present Past in the Middle East

Chair: Kirsten Scheid, American University of Beirut

Date: Thursday, February 16, 2017
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Location: Madison Suite, 2nd Floor, New York Hilton Midtown

Session Abstract: What is the role of the Nude for modern and contemporary art of the Arab world, Turkey, and Iran? Assuming the answer was none, President Rouhani’s hosts in Rome covered their nude statuary, to the bemusement and pain of Iranians who found this ventriloquized self-censorship insulting. Meanwhile recent blockbuster exhibitions in France, Turkey, and Lebanon have assembled corpuses of work that leave little doubt about the widespread importance of the practice. With titles like “Le Corps découvert” (Institut du monde arabe, 2012), “Bare, Naked, Nude: A Story of Modernization” (Pera Museum, 2015), and “The Arab Nude: The Artist as Awakener” (American University of Beirut, 2016), they have enlivened anew public encounters with the genre. Yet have they been able to escape the binaries that previously shrouded view of the genre? How much do they require interest in the Nude to contrast with religious fundamentalism? Do they reinforce the notion that there is something inherently enlightening about looking at naked bodies (or bodies at all)? In sum, how much does their attention to the genre reify notions of tradition and modernity, or totalizing state projects, or ethnic identity politics? And how is this social charge related to the original deployment of the genre (whether in the 1880s, 1920s, or 1950s)? Combining visual analyses and audience studies, this panel documents historic practices of the nude genre in Turkish, Iranian, and Arab societies and explores how nudes are incorporated into contemporary understandings of the societies. What work does the Nude still do today?

Panelists:

Hala Auji, American University of Beirut, Nudity and the Press: Encounters in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Erotic Literature

Nadia Radwan, Université de Bern, Imagined Bodies in Egyptian Modern Art

Saleem Al-Bahloly, Johns Hopkins University, Musallikha, or the Anti-Nude

Sarah C. Johnson, Freie University Berlin, The Nude’s Gaze: Beyond Heteronormativity in the Modern Middle Eastern Nude

Sandra Skurvida, Fashion Institute of Technology, A State University of New York, Body Laid Bare in Performance by Barbad Golshiri

Kirsten Scheid, American University of Beirut, Of Scandals That Never Happened, Or Why Is It Always Somebody Else Who Has a Problem with the Nude?

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Each year the Rhonda A. Saad Prize honors one graduate or recent post-graduate paper that has made a substantial contribution to the field of modern Middle Eastern Art History. This year, we received a number of highly qualified papers from throughout the US and abroad.

It is with great pleasure that the Committee for the Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art has chosen to award Nisa Ari for her submission, “Painting After Photography: Nicola Saig, the American Colony Photo Department and the Art of the Copy in Palestine’s Early Twentieth Century Art World.” A PhD candidate in the History, Theory and Criticism of Art and Architecture Program at MIT’s School of Architecture, Ari is currently completing a dissertation on the development of the visual arts in Palestine during the late Ottoman period and the British Mandate.

The Committee found that Ari’s paper not only expands on and compliments other studies of Modern Palestinian art (in general) and Nicola Saig (in particular), but also introduces a unique methodological framework in the study of Modern art in the Arab world.

The Committee also cited Anahi Alviso-Marino’s paper, “Collectifs artistiques et stratégies de valorisation et de commercialisation de l’art,” a chapter of a dissertation on contemporary Yemeni art submitted to the Écoles Doctorale de Science Politique at the Université Paris 1-Sorbonne and to Faculté des sciences sociales et politiques at the Université de Lausanne, with honorable mention for its originality and significant contribution to Yemeni Studies.

The award will be publicly announced at the AMCA-Sponsored Session at the 105th Annual CAA Conference, to take place at the New York Hilton Midtown,February 15–18, 2017. This year’s session is “Getting Nude: Artists, Audiences, and the Present Past in the Middle East,” chaired by Kirsten Scheid, and will be held on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. in the Madison Suite, 2nd Floor, New York Hilton Midtown. Ari will be presenting a version of this paper at CAA on a panel entitled “Modern Intimacies: Photography from Latin America and the Middle East,” on February 18 from 10:30-12:00 in Concourse G. For further details on the CAA conference, please visit http://conference.collegeart.org/about/.

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On January 27, 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order proposing a 90-day suspension of visas and other immigration benefits to all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia, a move that has grave and immediate consequences for artists, scholars, students, curators, and their families and communities, as well as for refugees and immigrants from various backgrounds throughout the world.

AMCA is an international organization focused on the study of Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey. Our membership not only includes scholars and students from the affected countries, but also depends upon their vital and invaluable contributions to advancing the field. We are deeply concerned with both immediate and long-term barriers to intellectual and artistic exchanges resulting from this Executive Order, along with the harmful and anti-intellectual environment it engenders. We reject fear mongering, Islamophobia, and discriminatory and dangerous arguments concerning refugees and immigrants that have been presented without factual basis.

Please consider adding your name to the petition Academics Against Immigration Executive Order: https://notoimmigrationban.com.

Nada Shabout, President

Sarah Rogers, President Elect

Pamela Karimi, Treasurer

Jessica Gerschultz, Secretary

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The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) may sponsor two panels at this year’s Middle East Studies Association (MESA) meeting, to be held in Washington, DC, November 18-21, 2017. Panel organizers: Please submit a 300-400-word panel summary in addition to individual paper abstracts to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by February 7, 2017. AMCA board members will vote to select two panels for submission to MESA, and chosen panels will submit their proposals to the MESA website. Please note that all panelists must be current AMCA members (visit http://amcainternational.org).

For further information on panel submission guidelines, visit: http://mesana.org/annual-meeting/cfp_programmatic.html#panel

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  • The Art Salon in the Middle East: Migration of Institutional Patronage and its Challenges, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, 10:00am
  • Examining the role of the auteur in the Arab world, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, 2:00pm

The Art Salon in the Middle East: Migration of Institutional Patronage and its Challenges

Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, 10:00am

Organizers: Monique Bellan and Nadia von Maltzahn

Discussant: Kirsten Scheid

Salons, art academies’ official exhibitions, started in France under Louis XIV. The academies of art in Paris and London and their annual salons soon became the most powerful institutions in the European art world of the time, patronizing art and directing public taste. Only in the 19th century did artists start to oppose the monopoly of the academy, resulting in the creation of new exhibition forums or independent salons. In the Middle East, a School of Fine Arts was established in Cairo in 1908 by Prince Yusif Kamal, who believed that the fine arts could be a means for Egypt to engage with modernity. Several salons sprung up across the region in the 20th century, such as the annual Cairo Salon of the “Society of Fine Art Lovers”, the annual exhibition the “Friends of Art” started in Baghdad in the 1940s, and the Salon d’Automne of the Sursock Museum in Beirut that was launched in the 1960s. Institutional forms of art clearly migrated from Europe to the Middle East in the late colonial and early post-colonial context, while artists circulated between the two regions. This panel aims to explore the role of the art salon in the Middle East, examining to what extent it had an impact on the formation of public taste and debates on art in the Middle East, as well as to look at knowledge transfer and cultural interactions between Europe and the Middle East. Was the art salon considered just an import from Europe, a fringe phenomenon lacking the historical development of institutional patronage and competing with other more rooted exhibition forms? Who initiated salons in the region? Was the rejection of the salon a driving force for the historical avant-garde in the region? Were there any alternative or informal forums, which defied the aesthetic and political values of the salons? Finally, how are state, art market and salons related?

The Egyptian Avant-Garde Defying the Salon, Monique Bellan, German Orient Institute of Beirut

The Baghdad Avant-Garde’s Unofficial Salons, Nada Shabout, University of North Texas

Guiding the Artist and the Public? Salon d’Automne at Beirut’s Sursock Museum, Nadia von Maltzahn, German Orient Institute of Beirut

Discussant: Kirsten Scheid, American University of Beirut

Examining the role of the auteur in the Arab world

Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, 2:00pm

Organizer: Samirah Alkassim

In the 1950’s French film critics (who later became filmmakers) defined the auteur as a director who uses the language of cinema as a writer uses the pen, to break from conventional usages of cinematic language and national industries of production, and to say something that challenges the status quo. Auteur theory developed from this point and split into different interpretations of the term. Over time, critics and scholars came to question the over-valorization of the role of the director in the total production of a work of art, rightly pointing to the influential and determining contributions by scenarists, cinematographers, actors, sound designers, editors, etc.

Yet while auteur studies in film studies scholarship has fallen out of vogue, in film scholarship of the Arab world (and other area studies and humanities disciplines), it remains a significant portal of entry to “diverse” cultures and their lesser known art forms in the non-western world. While auteur theory was meant to address a distinct kind of art-house cinema, the role of the national always hovered as a determining shadow. This panel proposes a re-examination of the place and value of auteur studies within Arab film studies by offering original and groundbreaking research on Arab cinema through the lens of individual directors, all of whom fall within the precise definition of a film auteur. Our panelists offer in-depth discussions about filmmakers’ works that help expose the English-speaking world to significant cultural productions, recent and old, from Syria, Palestine, and the Maghreb, while we reject the canonization of any particular form, mode or director. Our panelists also transcend the boundaries of film studies to highlight the political, social and gendered issues that each auteur presents in their roles as activists and intellectuals. We argue that auteurs are and have been important pubic intellectuals in the Arab world and beyond. We propose a meaningful re-examination of the auteur whose works are either variously “accented” within their own countries of origin, or contribute to our understanding of the intersection of transnationalism and filmic media.

Dead Auteurs and their Legacies in the Post-Cinematic Age, Samirah Alkassim, Independent Film Scholar / Program & Communications Manager, The Jerusalem Fund, Washington DC

Intertextuality and Trauma:  Muhammad Malas as the Transnational, Syrian, and Arab Auteur, Nezar Andary, Assistant Professor of Film & Literature, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi

Skeptical Auteurism in the Arab World, Peter Limbrick, Associate Professor of Film & Digital Media, University of California Santa Cruz, California

Landscapes of Erasure and the Cinematic Language of Kamal Aljafari, Najat Rahman, Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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Deadline: December 15, 2016

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2017 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. Established in 2010, the awardaims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize honors our respected colleague and dear friend, Rhonda (1979-2010), who was, at the time of her tragic passing, in the process of researching a doctoral dissertation on modern Palestinian art in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. Over the last six years, the prize has recognized excellence in graduate work completed on a variety of subjects in a number of disciplines at universities in the U.S. and abroad. This year’s competition is open to graduate students as well as to recent post-doctoral students who earned a PhD no earlier than 2014.

The prize is offered to a graduate student or recent PhDs working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. Submissions must have been produced between June 2015 – December 2016, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by December 15, 2016.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held this year at the College Art Association Annual Meeting in Washington DC in February 2017. The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.

PAST RECIPENTS

  • 2016  Nancy Demerdash, Dept. of the History of Art & Architecture at DePaul University, Urbanisme d’Urgence: Postwar Tunisian Modernisms & Revisionist Reconstructions, and Rachel Nelson, Dept. of History of Art and Visual Culture, University of California, Santa Cruz, On Perpetual Conflict: Palestine in Emily Jacir’s Art Practices.
  • 2014-15  Christopher Barrie, Dept. of Middle East Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, School of London, Myth and Mythology on the Nile: The Surrealism of Georges Henein and ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Gazar
  • 2013  Elizabeth Rauh, Dept. of Art History, University of Michigan, The Poetics of Absence: Walid Raad’s Préface à la première edition
  • 2012  Amin Alsaden, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Baghdad’s 1974 Biennial: The Ba’ath, Arab Art, and Global Politics
  • 2011  Marie Domene-Danes, Dept. of Art History, University of Indiana, Bloomington, Disrupting Narratives: Unveiling Biopoltics in the Atlas Group
  • Honorable Mention to Yazan Khalil, Darkness Against the Landscape: De-familiarizing the Image
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This year, we received a number of highly qualified papers from throughout the US and abroad.  The intense competition resulted in the decision of jointly awarding the 2016 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art to Rachel Nelson’s “On Perpetual Conflict: Palestine in Emily Jacir’s Art Practices” and Nancy Demerdash’s “Urbanisme d’Urgence: Postwar Tunisian Modernisms & Revisionist Reconstructions.”

Rachel Nelson is a PhD candidate in the Department of History of Art and Visual Culture at the University of California, Santa Cruz. A lecturer in the Department of the History of Art & Architecture at DePaul University, Nancy Demerdash received her PhD in Art & Archaeology from Princeton University in October 2015.

The Rhonda A. Saad Prize review committee acknowledges that the two papers are highly original, well researched, clearly articulated and masterfully incorporated the relevant theoretical materials. Above all, the committee commends Demerdash and Nelson for successfully engaging in fresh and in-depth arguments about interrelations of art and politics. Demerdash’s paper shows how Tunisia’s post-WWII socio-political tensions, including its independence from French colonial rule, were articulated in the country’s postwar building program. Nelson, on the other hand, explores the significance of art in understanding the very many nuances of the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Established in 2010 in honor of our dear and respected colleague and friend, The Rhonda A. Saad Prize aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The award is offered to a graduate student or recent post-doctoral scholar working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies.

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Curating the Middle East in America: A Roundtable Discussion

Time: 02/04/2016, 12:30 PM—2:00 PM
 Location: Washington 5, Exhibition Level

Co-chairs: Sarah-Neel Smith, Maryland Institute College of Art & Jessica Gerschultz, University of Kansas

Organizer: Nada Shabout

Mitra M. Abbaspour, Independent Curator and Scholar

Kimberly Masteller, Nelson-Atkins Museum

Valerie Hillings, Abu Dhabi Project, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

In step with the globalization of artistic canons, recent curatorial efforts in the U.S. have sought to engage general museum audiences with modern and contemporary art from the Middle East and Islamic world. Thematic exhibitions and reinstallations of permanent collections confront established curatorial divisions which have often relegated art of the “Middle East” to the past while suggesting that artists in Europe and North America are at the helm of modern and contemporary art. In offering new narratives to various publics, curators have the opportunity to query regional and trans-regional artistic strategies and networks, as well as historicize and decenter museum practices and the disciplinary perspectives that upheld them. This session brings into conversation U.S.-based curators whose work investigates issues of locality, historicity, inclusion/exclusion, abstraction, and contemporaneity with a focus on artworks produced in the Middle East and its diasporas. Panelists may reflect on the problematic posed by constructs such as region and period, expectations for artwork to serve as a “bridge” or dialogue between cultures and religions, negotiations with donors and sponsors or across curatorial departments, the involvement and perspectives of artists, and larger questions of modernism as articulated in the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey.

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AMCA may sponsor two panels at this year’s Middle East Studies Association meeting, to be held in Boston, November 17-20, 2016. Panel organizers: Please submit a 300-400-word panel summary in addition to individual paper abstracts. All proposals should be sent to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by February 6, 2016. AMCA board members will vote to select two panels for submission to MESA, and chosen panels will submit their proposals to the MESA website. Please note that all panelists must be current AMCA members. For further information on panel submission guidelines, visit: http://www.mesa.arizona.edu/annual-meeting/cfp_programmatic.html#panel

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AMCA’s Urgent Appeal for Ashraf Fayadh

The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA) condemns the death sentence for the Saudi-Arabian-born Palestinian poet, artist, and curator Ashraf Fayadh. Fayadh was sentenced to death on November 17, 2015 for alleged blasphemous statements made during a discussion group and in his poetry, charges he has denied. We believe that this decision was made by the Saudi Arabian legal system without authorized charges beyond “insulting the Godly self” and believing in “ideas that do not suit the Saudi society.” It is particularly concerning given that Saudi Arabia currently presents a face of support for the arts through funding international exhibitions of Saudi Arabian artists.

Freedom of artistic expression is key to democratic societies. Ashraf Fayadh’s steady and successful artistic career has inspired many young artists, positively contributing not only to the Saudi Arabian community but also to the region at large. Indeed, it is thanks to the efforts of Mr. Fayadh that Saudi Arabia excelled at the 2013 Venice Biennale.

Today terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaida continue to provoke the youth to commit criminal acts, thus weakening security and stability in the region. It is therefore essential—perhaps more than ever before—to promote community leaders and role models such as Ashraf Fayadh who encourage the youth to turn to creativity and beauty rather than war and violence. Hence, AMCA urges the government of Saudi Arabia as well as His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz to lift the charges against one of the greatest minds in the Saudi society as well as the region at large.

 

AMCA Board of Directors

Nada Shabout

Jessica Gerschultz

Sarah Rogers

Pamela Karimi

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([P4180] As Images Move: Circulation, Appropriation, and Transformation in Contemporary Visual Production

Monday, 11/23/15 5:00pm

SUMMARY:

As Images Move: Circulation, Appropriation, and Transformation in Contemporary Visual Production

This panel considers the circulation of images that capture moments of conflict and contestation but also the image itself as a site of contestation. The process of circulation is one of constant transformation, a process that is mediated through networks of power and dominant discursive frameworks—including political regimes, mass media and global capital—and resistance to them. We are interested in tracing the travel routes of some of these images, identifying the circuits and axes that are formed regionally and transnationally.

Each of the case studies on this panel points to a moment of political sensitivity during which the seeming authority of certain images comes into question. In their new local(es) these images are reappropriated and imbued with different meanings, sometimes negating, undoing, and undermining the original, and highlighting existing political and aesthetic tensions. Egyptian artist Hassan Khan’s project Trusted Sources, produced in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution, is a nod to the informal circulation of images, a process that binds the individual to the collective, rejecting the Freudian ego in favor of the more collective nafs. Similarly, we see a shift in how images of resistance circulate in Palestine, from images being captured by an individual in order to represent the collective, to a self-representation embodied on behalf of collectivities. This authorial claim over the circulation of images is a recurrent concern for practitioners in the region. Through their work, Iraqi artists Abdel Karim Khalil and Sadik Kwaish Alfraji reroute the narrative flow of images of Abu Gharib, bypassing the torturer and focusing instead on the overlooked tortured. By contrast, we witness transformation as deformation in the context of an unfolding counterrevolution. Sliman Mansour’s iconic image of the porter stoically bearing the burden of the exile’s imagined homeland is manipulated into the delusions of a military regime.

SPONSOR:

Association for Modern & Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran & Turkey

Chair/Discussant: Sarah-Neel Smith, Maryland Inst Col of Art

Tammer El Sheikh, Concordia U– Psychoanalysis and the Social Life of Dreams in Hassan KhanʼTrusted Sources 

Haytham Bahoora, U Colorado Boulder–Art after Abu Ghraib: Spectacle and Medium in the Fashioning of Iraqi War Art

Dina A. Ramadan, Bard Col–The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back 

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Deadline: December 1, 2015

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2016 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. Established in 2010, the awardaims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize honors our respected colleague and dear friend, Rhonda (1979-2010), who was, at the time of her tragic passing, in the process of researching a doctoral dissertation on modern Palestinian art in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. Over the last five years, the prize has recognized excellence in graduate work completed on a variety of subjects in a number of disciplines at universities in the U.S. and abroad. This year, we are opening the competition to graduate students as well as to recent post-doctoral students who earned a PhD no earlier than 2013.

The prize is offered to a graduate student or recent PhDs working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. Submissions must have been produced between June 2014 – December 2015, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by December 1, 2015.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held this year at the College Art Association Annual Meeting in Washington DC in February 2016. The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.

PAST RECIPENTS

2011  Marie Domene-Danes, Dept. of Art History, University of Indiana, Bloomington, Disrupting Narratives: Unveiling Biopoltics in the Atlas Group

Honorable Mention to Yazan Khalil, Darkness Against the Landscape: De-familiarizing the Image

2012  Amin Alsaden, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Baghdad’s 1974 Biennial: The Ba’ath, Arab Art, and Global Politics

2013  Elizabeth Rauh, Dept. of Art History, University of Michigan, The Poetics of Absence: Walid Raad’s Préface à la première edition

2014-15  Christopher Barrie, Dept. of Middle East Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, School of London, Myth and Mythology on the Nile: The Surrealism of Georges Henein and ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Gazar

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Abstraction Unframed 

Fourth Annual Conference of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Turkey and Iran (AMCA) in partnership with Barjeel Art Foundation and NYUAD

May 22-25, 2016

NYUAD, Abu Dhabi and Barjeel Foundation, Sharjah

Our art historical account of modernism has long been rooted in an idea of dissatisfaction with representation, in a twentieth-century impatience with perceived distance from ‘real’ material, emotion, or knowledge. While Western scholarship privileges one network of European artists with the invention of abstraction in 1910, this dissatisfaction with representation permeated other disciplines as well. Modern architects ceased concerning themselves with historical styles as a métier, instead designing machines for living, and for knowing. By mid century, the methods of postwar sociology and planning shifted in the direction of producing data sets which, offering ways to manipulate experience apart from the singularity of good taste or the frame of the individual, became material to the art object (and its deconstruction) as well. At stake in these multiple abstractions was the dream of true being, as might exist outside the specificity of language or culture.

There is no monopoly on this dream. Nomenclature to describe the transcendence of the singularity of appearances in fact proliferates in translation – the Arabic word tajreed, the Persian entaze’e or the Turkish word soyutlama, and other names – to denote formal states beyond natural likeness such as a lasting structure or eternal concept. And yet, still tethered to the very word abstraction—as it is used in the narrow disciplinary frame of artistic modernism—is a concept of representation that has been formed within the particular historical context of the European tradition of illusionistic painting. Abstraction acquired its sense in reference to a lack, a pulling away from visual representation, an absence of the figure. If this is our disciplinary inheritance, what can be made of work with traditions that never placed emphasis on the icon, or never submitted to the representational limits of the painterly frame? How can we attend to the multiplicity of other artistic problems, or modes of creation, found in modernism writ large? To the many strands of Eastern mysticism and vitalist philosophy that provided an impetus to abstraction, on all shores? What history can we write for the artists who made their own mobility a ground for new abstractions, moving from discipline to discipline, and circulating around various cities and countries?

The fourth AMCA conference seeks to open the concept of abstraction up to inquiry across multiple disciplinary formulations, so as to probe both the frame of modern abstraction and its promise to unframe. Papers might engage a range of subjects, including and not limited to (1) critical accounts of the concept of abstraction; (2) case studies of artistic practice; (3) critical analyses of interactions between artists and architects, or art and calculation; (4) reinterpretations of global conditions for abstract art in the twentieth century. As a whole, the conference is intended to highlight transformations of abstraction in the non-West, including the Arab world, Iran, and Turkey, and the history of aniconic ornament in their spiritual landscapes. Equally it aims to take other impetuses into account: the abstract calculations of colonialism, economics, and planning that produced the modern condition, as well as ethical issues surrounding the abdication of the figure or the non-figure (such as sincerity of practice or lack thereof).

The conference will take place at two institutions: NYU-Abu Dhabi and the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah. By convening the conference in conjunction with a collection of art assembled outside national boundaries, and within a new institution of higher learning located between the Middle East and Asia, in which Europe is de-centered, we anticipate that our discussions in the United Arab Emirates will enable us to un-frame abstraction as an artistic process, goal, and critique. To that end, the conference will conclude with a day of “unconference”, when the questions raised in the conference may be applied to the collection of art in the Barjeel Foundation. This collection includes work by Etel Adnan, Mohammed Melehi, Mona Saudi, Hugette Caland, Shakir Hassan Al Said, Omar El Nagdi, and others may be viewed at https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/u/0/collection/barjeel-art-foundation.

All proposals to be submitted by Oct 31st 2015
to:
info@amcainternational.org. Responses will be emailed on December 1st, 2015. Conference participation of presenters will be fully subsidized by the generous sponsorship of Barjeel ART Foundation and NYUAD.

Organizers:
Saleem Al-Bahloly (EUME Fellow 2014-2016, Forum Transregionale Studien)

Jessica Gerschultz (University of Kansas)

Anneka Lenssen (UC Berkeley)

Salwa Mikdadi (NYUAD)

Nada Shabout (University of North Texas)

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International Forum on Contemporary Islamic Art, Design and Architecture: Where/How does the North meet the East?

In October 2015, the School of Art, Design, and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore will bring together designers, artists, architects, and academics for a multi-disciplinary conference on contemporary Islamic art, design, and architecture. Although each discipline has its own practice and methodology, when collectively grouped under an Islamic identity, we are forced to redefine the term “Islamic.” While new forms, spaces, images, typographies, symbols, colors, and materials of contemporary Islamic art, design, and architecture share distinct cultural narratives from individual geographies, it remains essential to address how comparative and connective perspectives reorient our understanding of contemporary Islamic visual communication. This three-day conference, scheduled to take place October 7-9, is an unprecedented forum dedicated to convening professionals and scholars from throughout Asia, Europe, and America who share an investment in contemporary Islamic art, design, and architecture. For more information, visit http://www.ciada2015.com/

Organization Committee: Gül İnanç, Peer Sathikh, Nada Shabout, Sarah Rogers and Dina Bangdel

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Deadline: December 1, 2015

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2016 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. Established in 2010, the awardaims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize honors our respected colleague and dear friend, Rhonda (1979-2010), who was, at the time of her tragic passing, in the process of researching a doctoral dissertation on modern Palestinian art in the Department of Art History at Northwestern University. Over the last five years, the prize has recognized excellence in graduate work completed on a variety of subjects in a number of disciplines at universities in the U.S. and abroad. This year, we are opening the competition to graduate students as well as to recent post-doctoral students who earned a PhD no earlier than 2013.

The prize is offered to a graduate student or recent PhDs working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. Submissions must have been produced between June 2014 – December 2015, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by December 1, 2015.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held this year at the College Art Association Annual Meeting in Washington DC in February 2016. The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.

PAST RECIPENTS

2011  Marie Domene-Danes, Dept. of Art History, University of Indiana, Bloomington, Disrupting Narratives: Unveiling Biopoltics in the Atlas Group

Honorable Mention to Yazan Khalil, Darkness Against the Landscape: De-familiarizing the Image

2012  Amin Alsaden, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Baghdad’s 1974 Biennial: The Ba’ath, Arab Art, and Global Politics

2013  Elizabeth Rauh, Dept. of Art History, University of Michigan, The Poetics of Absence: Walid Raad’s Préface à la première edition

2014-15  Christopher Barrie, Dept. of Middle East Politics, School of Oriental and African Studies, School of London, Myth and Mythology on the Nile: The Surrealism of Georges Henein and ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Gazar

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The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art in the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) condemns the entry ban UAE authorities have imposed on artists Walid Raad and Ashok Sukumaran and calls on UAE-based art institutions, including in particular the Guggenheim Museum, to convey their disapproval to UAE authorities and vocally dissociate themselves from the action. AMCA further calls on international arts organizations to condemn the complacency of art institutions that seek to benefit from the affluent Gulf region while condoning odious labor practices that have been systematically documented and consistently deplored locally.

AMCA is an association of scholars, artists, and art practitioners that aims to advance the study of modern and contemporary art in the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey. As an affiliate organization with both the College Arts Association (CAA) and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), AMCA is the largest and only international association for academic research in the modern and contemporary arts of the Middle East.

In May 2015, both artists Raad and Sukumaran were separately denied entry to the UAE where they were to participate in the March Meeting (May 11-15, 2015), other cultural activities, and appointments with museum and government officials there. Sukumaran, who is based in Mumbai and has frequently worked in the UAE, was refused a visa. Raad was held at Dubai airport for 24 hours before being deported. Under similar circumstances, NYU professor Andrew Ross was pulled from his plane to Abu Dhabi in March 2015. All were told that they could not be allowed entry “for security reasons.” All are members of the Gulf Labor Artist Coalition.[1]

That UAE authorities denied entry to three renowned members of the Gulf Labor Artists Coalition within two months suggests an attempt to forestall the empirical investigations on which the artists have based their art practices. Gulf Labor joins artists who foreground institutional critique in their work. For the past five years, its members have produced artwork and cultural events that highlight the harsh working conditions imposed on the behind-the-scenes workers who are bringing art institutions into existence in the UAE. The Louvre, the British Museum, and the Guggenheim have all participated in Gulf urban entrepreneurialism and benefitted from both the spectacular cultural competition and the notorious infringements on laborers’ rights, especially construction workers but now sympathetic artists, too.

That UAE authorities labeled all three Gulf Labor members “security threats” may sound bizarre, unless we take seriously that the UAE monarchs feel threatened by the exposure artists may bring to their exploitative labor laws. These laws currently prohibit unions, labor organizations, strikes, and independent contracting. They have been called neo-slavery by international human rights institutions, and it is this very inequity that artists seek to reveal.[2]

AMCA notes the long involvement of artists in the region in movements against oppression and suppression. Artists were at the forefront of anti-colonial and anti-imperial thought that led to the liberation of the region in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Artists have actively and creatively contributed to uprisings and campaigns for social justice throughout the region. AMCA protests and condemns actions by the UAE authorities that deprive regional populations of their connection to this important resource for renewing social thought and envisioning an equitable future.

Based on this hard-earned legacy, AMCA warns all patrons of the arts against trying to paint social and legal infrastructures with a veneer of cultural freedom and creativity while seeking to determine what realities art institutions overlook or make visible. Colonial powers sought to use art in the region in the same manner in the 1920s-50s, and “soft power” continues to operate this way today, to make audiences disregard deeper, endemic abuses of state power. Freedom of expression in the arts must not be compromised.

Nada Shabout, President and Founding Board Member

Sarah Rogers, President-Elect and Founding Board Member

Pamela Karimi, Treasurer

Jessica Gerschultz, Secretary

[1] See Stephanie Saul, “N.Y.U. Professor Is Barred by United Arab Emirates,” The New York Times, March 16, 2015. Available at

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/17/nyregion/nyu-professor-is-barred-from-the-united-arab-emirates.html?_r=2; Walid Raad, “Denied Entry and Deported,” open letter published May 15, 2015. Available at http://gulflabor.org/2015/artist-gulf-labor-member-walid-raad-denied-entry-and-deported-from-the-uae/

[2] See Human Rights Watch, “Migrant Workers’ Rights on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates,” February 10, 2015. Available at http://www.hrw.org/reports/2015/02/10/migrant-workers-rights-saadiyat-island-united-arab-emirates-0

 

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AMCA is happy to award the 2015 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art to Christopher Barrie for his paper, “Myth and Mythology on the Nile: The Surrealism of Georges Henein and ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Gazar.” Barrie is a Master’s student in Middle East Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. His paper analyzes the treatment of myth in the poetry of Henein and the visual art of al-Gazzar. The paper challenges understandings of al-Gazzar’s ‘Contemporary Art Group’ as the first example of a purportedly authentic national Egyptian art and instead looks to analyze the dialogical interpenetration of the cosmopolitan and the local in al-Gazzar’s work.
Established in 2010 in honor of our dear and respected colleague and friend, The Rhonda A. Saad Prize aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The award is offered to a graduate student working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. For more information and submission guidelines, please visit www.amcainternational.org
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Saturday, February 14, 2015
Session: What is Contemporary Islamic Art?
Time: 12:30-2:00 p.m.
Location: Hilton New York, 2nd Floor, Beekman Parlor

Chairs: Nada Shabout, University of North Texas; Sarah A. Rogers, Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA)

Iftikhar Dadi, Cornell University
Dina Bangdel, Virginia Commonwealth University
Gul Inanc, Nanyang Technological University
Azra Aksamija, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Finbarr B. Flood, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Avinoam Shalem, Columbia University

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AMCA may sponsor two panels at this year’s Middle East Studies Association meeting to be held in Denver, November 21-24, 2015. Panel organizers: Please submit a 250-word panel proposal in addition to individual abstracts for papers to be included in the proposed panel. All proposals should be sent to AMCA at info@amcainternational.org by February 1, 2015. AMCA board members will vote to select two panels for submission to MESA, and chosen panels will submit their proposals to the MESA website. For further information on panel submission guidelines, visit: http://www.mesa.arizona.edu/annual-meeting/cfp_programmatic.html#panel.

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In Memory of Farid Belkahia

In Memory of Farid Belkahia
(15 November 1934- 25 September 2014)

On behalf of all the members of AMCA, we extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Farid Belkahia, who passed away on September 25th in Marrakech at the age of 79.

Born November 15, 1934 in Marrakech, Farid Belkahia is considered one of the forerunners of modern art in Morocco. After completing his training at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he became the director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Casablanca from 1962-1974. Though he began his career with oil on canvas, he later turned to working with copper and then with leather dyed with henna, speaking to the traditional crafts of Morocco. Throughout his work, he sampled Moroccan visual symbols from textiles, tattoos, the Amazigh alphabet, and architecture. In the words of Holiday Powers, he “re-constituted and re-imagined [these symbols] to become an integral part of his modernist visual vocabulary.”

Moreover, Belkahia played a crucial role in the artistic discourse and pedagogical development of arts training in Morocco, in his position as director of the art school as well as a leader of the Casablanca Group. His work has been exhibited widely, from the Djemaa al-Fna in Marrakech to the Baghdad and Venice Biennials.

AMCA expresses its sympathies to those who knew and loved Belkahia, and acknowledges the passing of one of the leaders of modern art in the Arab world. He will always be present through his work.

For a more complete biography, see Holiday Powers’s entry at the Mathaf Encyclopedia​ of Modern Art and the Arab World.

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Joint Conference of School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA) and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar

7-9 October 2015

In October 2015, the School of Art, Design, and Media at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore will bring together designers, artists, architects, and academics for a multi-disciplinary conference on contemporary Islamic art, design, and architecture. Although each discipline has its own practice and methodology, when collectively grouped under an Islamic identity, we are forced to redefine the term “Islamic.” While new forms, spaces, images, typographies, symbols, colors, and materials of contemporary Islamic art, design, and architecture share distinct cultural narratives from individual geographies, it remains essential to address how comparative and connective perspectives reorient our understanding of contemporary Islamic visual communication. This three-day conference, scheduled to take place October 7-9, is an unprecedented forum dedicated to convening professionals and scholars from throughout Asia, Europe, and America who share an investment in contemporary Islamic art, design, and architecture.

The conference will focus on two primary issues:

1)    How might we define contemporary art, design, or architecture as Islamic? Is it an aesthetic, through the faith of the maker or patron, geography, a connection to the historical period of Islamic art? Or, is it a combination of these factors?

2)    How might the dimensions and dynamic of cross-cultural dialogue in today’s globalized world effect the broader field of contemporary Islamic art, design and architecture?

We invite the submission of abstracts for individual papers and panel proposals (not to exceed 300 words). Abstracts should be submitted via email to ginanc@ntu.edu.sg and contain the following: title of the presentation, first and the last name, current academic or professional affiliation.

Themes can include but are not restricted to the following topics:
patronage; art residency programs; commodification and marketing; exhibitions and display; art and architecture in times of war; cultural heritage and preservation; art in translation; education and curricula development.

Submission Deadlines

Panels and individual papers: October 15, 2014
Announcement of Acceptance: November 15, 2014
Online Registration opens: December 15, 2014
Program Announcement: May 15, 2015

Organization Committee

Prof. Nada Shabout, Assoc. Prof. Dina Bang! del, Assist. Prof. Peer Sathikh, Sarah Rogers, Ph.D. and Gülİnanç, Ph.D.

Contact and Information

Sarah Rogers- sarrog@yahoo.com and Gülİnanç- ginanc@ntu.edu.sg

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Deadline: December 1, 2014

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2015 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. In its fourth year, the award aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize is offered to a graduate student working in any discipline whose paper is judged to provide the most significant contribution to the disciplines of Art History and Middle East Studies. Submissions must have been produced between June 2013 – December 2014, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by December 1, 2014.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held this year at the College Art Association Annual Meeting in New York City in February 2015. The author of the winning paper will be awarded 500USD and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.

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AMCA-Sponsored Panels at the 2014 MESA Conference, November 22-25, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington D.C.:

Sunday, 11/23/14 8:30am
Maghrebi Visual Culture and the Politics of Memory
Chair: Patricia M. Goldsworthy

  • “Approaching Maghrebi Visual Culture” by David Prochaska
  • “Postcolonial Re-exposures: The Moroccan Afterlife of French Colonial Photography” by Patricia M. Goldsworthy
  • “Decolonizing Patrimony: Institutions, Nationhood and the Construction of Heritage in Bourguiba’s Tunisia” by Nancy Demerdash
  • “Visual Genealogies of an Algerian Vernacular” by Anna Cavness
  • “Defeat and Dissent in the Cinematic Discourse of NouriBouzid” by NouriGana
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AMCA-Sponsored Panels at the 2014 MESA Conference, November 22-25, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington D.C.:

Monday, 11/24/14 11:00am
Spaces of Movement: An Architectural Critique of Globality in the Middle East
Chair: VahidVahdatZad and ShimaMohajeri

  • “Sarmatism, Orientalism, and the Third Reich: The Afterlife of Ottoman Imperial Tents in Europe” by Ashley Dimmig
  • “Shopping Mall in Translation: From US Suburbs to Pahlavi Tehran (1960-79)” by FarshidEmami
  • “Antoine Tabet’s Garden Mansions Housing Project in Haifa at the Crossroads of Empires:1937-1945” by AdeebNaccache
  • “Imagining the Mediterranean in Tripoli: Decoding the Nautical Chart of Ibrāhīm al-Mursī, 865AH/1461 CE” by Jeremy Ledger

 

 

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Saturday 02/14/2015, 12:30pm – 2:00pm

What is Contemporary Islamic art?

A term that has been invoked previously on few occasions, “Contemporary Islamic Art” has over the last decade become a popular subject of museum exhibitions, publications, and collections, university courses and teaching positions, and fellowships and prizes in the visual arts. Despite this emergent interest in “Contemporary Islamic Art,” the category remains contested: Does it designate a region? A shared set of religious, cultural, socio-political, or aesthetic concerns? Or, as is most commonly treated, an epoch—an extension of the field of Islamic art into artistic production of today.

This CAA affiliate session invites scholars and professionals across disciplines in the visual arts to address the various articulations, approaches, claims, and stakes of the category “Contemporary Islamic Art. The session launches an extended conversation to take place at an international conference in Singapore in October 2015 that aims to decentralize the familiar East-West binary and complicate accepted notions and definitions within the modern and contemporary periods.

Organized by Sarah Rogers and Nada Shabout

Participants:

  • AzraAksamija, Assistant Professor, MIT
  • Dina Bangdel, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • IftikharDadi, Associate Professor, Cornell University
  • Finbarr B. Flood, New York University, Institute of Fine Arts
  • GulInanc, Nanyang Technological University
  • Avinoam Shalem, Columbia University
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The Board of AMCA (The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey) issues this statement in support of the Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar, who was illegally and improperly refused permission by Israeli authorities to travel to attend a series of art exhibitions and discussion forums on contemporary art.  AMCA also issues this letter and statement as a protest against this illegal detention and refusal of permission to travel as an infringement of human rights.  According to Article 19 of the Universal Declaration Human Rights:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The facts about Khaled Jarrar’s detention by Israeli authorities and refusal for permission to leave for New York are reported in the article dated July 14, 2014 by Mariam Vanneschi, “Israel Denies Exit for Palestinian Artist in New Museum Show.”  Briefly, the facts are summarized as follows.

On or about July 13, 2014, the artist Khaled Jarrar, aresident of Ramallah, on the West Bank of Palestine, attempted to legally cross the border into Jordan. He was scheduled to fly to New York City to attend a panel discussion there on July 16, and later to attend the opening of his new art exhibition, “No Exit” to be held at the Whitebox Art Center the following day, July 17.  However on July 13, Khaled Jarrar was denied an exit by Israeli authorities. The only reason for the illegal refusal of Israeli authorities to allow him to pass is that Khaled Jarrar is an artist with an international reputation and an intellectual who they deem a threat to their interests.  Presently the Whitebox Art Centre has been forced to reschedule a limited opening on July 24 with the absence of Khaled Jarrar’s attendance. A prospective appearance by Mr. Jarrar via Skype and the internet is merely hopeful at best and remains in violation of the principles of free expression intended in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA) brings together art historians, art curators, artists, and university researchers and teachers in the arts – all those using the visual arts to promote ideas – in the common belief that it is through this sharing that a better understanding can be achieved across nations and frontiers.  As an affiliate organization with both the College Arts Association and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), AMCA is the largest and only international association for academic research in the arts of the Middle East.

AMCA advocates that there should be no geographical, ethnic, cultural, religious and other divides that limit free expression and opinion.  This also means the freedom of artists, writers, journalists and academics from interference by authorities. It is for this reason that AMCA issues this open letter of protest against the illegal refusal of Israeli authorities to allow the Palestinian artist the freedom to cross the border from the Israeli occupied Palestine into Jordan and connect to his flight to New York to attend his art opening.

The protection of the right to freedom of expression – the freedom to express ideas without fear of attack, arrest or other persecution – has been at the heart of AMCA’s mission and of the international arts community.

In view of the facts and principles stated above, AMCA issues this open letter to protest the illegal refusal of Israeli authorities for Khaled Jarrar’s right to travel. AMCA calls for the immediate review and reconsideration of this practice of withholding permission to travel and exit for any and all artists and intellectuals in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Nada Shabout, Ph.D.
President of AMCA

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Nasiri Award

Rafa Nasiri Art Studio, Amman-Jordan, takes the pleasure of presenting The 1st Annual Printmaking Award for Young Artists from all Arab countries. The award aims to enhance the art of printmaking in the Arab world and strengthen its value. The invitation is open to Arab artists all over the world from ages 20-40 years old to submit art works executed during one academic year in 2014.

Letterhead in English

Letterhead in Arabic

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From Meem Gallery 

Rafa NASIRI

RAFA AL-NASIRI

1940 – 2013

The partners of Meem Gallery would like to extend their sincerest condolences to the family of Rafa Al-Nasiri, who passed away at the age of 73 on Saturday, 7 December in Amman, Jordan.

Born in Tikrit in 1940, Rafa Al-Nasiri was a major proponent of the pan-Arab modern art movement that was initiated in Iraq during the 1970s, when Baghdad was a centre of contemporary art and culture. He was among a number of young Iraqi artists, such as Dia al-Azzawi, Shakir Hassan Al Said, Ismail Fattah and Kadhem Hayder, who started to exhibit their works regionally in the newly established Arab Art Biennials held in Baghdad and Rabat in 1974 and 1976, as well as in exhibitions in Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria and Morocco. Al-Nasiri co-founded and was a member of important artist groups of that period, including the New Vision group (1969), One Dimension group (1970), and the Graphics Movement. He is often credited with pioneering the graphic arts in Iraq and was highly influential in encouraging later generations of Iraqi artists to explore the art of printmaking.

While Al-Nasiri’s oeuvre is indebted to the visual culture of his own heritage, both Iraqi and Arab, his approach to art-making was particularly receptive to the practices of different cultures and disciplines. His exposure to international art practices started when he was a student at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, in 1959, the Central Academy of Fine Arts, in Beijing, from 1950 to 1963, and the Gravura, Lisbon, where he received a scholarship from the Gulbenkian Foundation to study printmaking in 1969. The curriculum at the Institute of Fine Arts was based on a European model of training, and when Al-Nasiri was a student in Beijing, the ink paintings of Qi Baishi and the works of his teacher Huang Yu Yi had a lasting impact on his work leading to his exploration of calligraphic forms and words—an idiom the artist gained renown for when he returned to Iraq after studying and travelling in Europe, from 1965 to 1969. The Arabic letter is a major element in Al-Nasiri’s oeuvre, a visual form explored by many Arab artists during the 1960s up until the present day.

An area Al-Nasiri investigated in his more recent silk-screen prints was poetry, including the work of Al-Mutanabbi, Ibn Zaydun, Al-Jawahiri, Mahmoud Darwish, Etel Adnan and May Muzaffar. Poetry forged a link with his interest in calligraphy but also acted as a refuge for the artist, who spent much of his life observing the destruction of his homeland from afar. In the aftermath of the Gulf War he moved to Amman with his wife, the poet, writer and artist, May Muzaffar, where he worked as a lecturer at Yarmouk University. In addition to his role as a teacher, Al-Nasiri actively contributed to the modern Arab arts scene through his written works on graphic art, published in Arab Arts Magazine, Ur Magazine, and Gilgamesh: A Journal of Modern Iraqi Arts. Throughout his career Al-Nasiri exhibited his work in solo and group exhibitions, festivals and biennials including Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad; Musée d’Art Moderne and Musée de l’Institute du Monde Arabe, Paris; British Museum and Iraqi Cultural Centre, London; Altes Museum, Berlin; National Museum, Nicosia; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and Darat Al-Funun, Amman; Bahrain National Museum, Manama; Sharjah Museum, Sharjah; Asilah Festival; International Graphic Biennial, Fredrikstad; and International Graphic Triennial, Cairo.

Meem Gallery had the pleasure of working with Rafa al-Nasiri from 2010, and extend their deepest sympathies to his wife May Muzaffar and family.

Source: http://mad.ly/499254?pact=19082389550&fe=1

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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-­â€300 words) as well as panel proposals (400-­â€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
to: info@amcainternational.org

A response will be given by early July 2013.

Organizers:
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)

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The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (SRGF) is seeking a Curator of Education and Community Outreach, Abu Dhabi Project. As a senior member of the Abu Dhabi Project team, the Curator of Education and Community Outreach will work in close alignment with the SRGF Education, Curatorial and Senior representative in Abu Dhabi and the Education and Project Management Units of the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and others as appropriate to research, develop, and pilot/implement audience and education strategies and programs and to support in preparation for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum’s opening in 2017 and beyond. Founded in 1937, SRGF is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of art, architecture, and other manifestations of visual culture, primarily of the modern and contemporary periods. SRGF realizes this mission through exceptional exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. SRGF strives to engage and educate an increasingly diverse international audience through its unique network of museums and partnerships. With nearly three million annual visitors worldwide, SRGF and its network is one of the most visited cultural institutions in the world.

Arabic language fluency and ability to spend significant amounts of time is Abu Dhabi are key baseline requirements among others. Interested applicants email employment@guggenheim.org

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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-­â€300 words) as well as panel proposals (400-­â€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 to: info@amcainternational.org

A response will be given by early July 2013.

Organizers:

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)

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Saturday October 10, 2013

A Relocated Politics: Making Art Elsewhere than the Nation

Organized by Kirsten Scheid (AUB) and Anneka Lenssen (AUC)

In the field of Middle Eastern art studies, national boundaries have largely defined inquiry. This paradigm has precluded examining other senses of belonging that art constructs, let alone other imaginaries and affects of art work. This panel explores ways to think about the setting “in” which artists work that do not presume a nationalist framework. The region’s histories of travel, colonialism, religious and cultural diffusion, and anti-imperial activism all trample national boundaries. The ideological, financial, educational, and aesthetic landscapes that art practices engage have rarely coincided with national imaginaries. And yet, most narratives begin by apportioning artists into delimited matrices of affiliation: a Qajar-era artist must be seen as proto-Iranian, Palestinians remain Palestinian no matter the location of their studios or horizon of their ambitions, artwork made by Egyptians is always about Egypt, and so on. Most funding and exhibition structures also reify the organizing principle of the nation, as do attendant critiques of the “external” values of European patrons. At worst, a nation-based optic on Middle Eastern art risks reproducing the chauvinistic structures of judgment that previously excluded it. At best, it pre-determines interests in art’s authenticity, representationality, and relationship to state power. But what if we don’t presume a nationalist framework at all? How might we otherwise study the affective power, social significance, and political engagements of this art? How might we forge methodologies and theories that do not de-politicize art but rather re-politicize it, positioning it within other political projects and imaginaries?

Panelists:
Hanan Toukan (EUME/Berlin) Who Imagines the Nation-State? Picasso, Palestine and the Cultural Politics of Modernity in Ramallah

Sandra Skurvida (FIT) Alien-nation in the Global Art Economy

Kiven Strohm (Universite de Montreal) Impossible Identification: The Politics of Palestinian Contemporary Art in Israel

Saleem Al-Bahloly (University of California, Berkeley) Modern Art and the Arab Awakening: Eros as a Figure of Vitality in the Painting of Jawad Salim

Discussant: Kirsten Scheid (AUB)

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The Division of General Studies ( DGS ) at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor with research interests in any aspect of contemporary art theory and practice in the field of visual arts. We expect the successful candidate to teach 18 hours per year including one lecture course, Arts and Creativity, for our undergraduate students majoring in science, technology, or business administration. A Ph.D. is required by the time of appointment. Well-grounded experience and interests in Korean culture and students are desired.

To apply, please visit:

http://www.unist.ac.kr/invite/pro/ eng /invite_proeng_main.jsp

Please click “Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences” within the site.

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Deadline: September 5, 2013

AMCA is currently accepting submissions for the 2013 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for Best Graduate Paper in Modern Arab Art. In its third year, the award aims to recognize and promote excellence in the field of modern and contemporary Arab art. The prize is offered 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.

Submissions must have been produced between June 2012 – September 2013, must not exceed 35 pages (excluding notes and bibliography), and must not have been previously published or be currently under consideration for publication.

Submissions are due to info@amcainternational.org by September 5, 2013.

The winner will be announced during the AMCA Members Meeting, held at the Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA in October 2013. The author of the winning paper will be awarded $500, and the winning paper will be considered for publication in the Arab Studies Journal, pending the standard review process.

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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

***Final Program Forthcoming***

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.”

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CAA Affiliate Session

Friday, February 15, 2013, 5:30 – 7:00 pm
A Revolution in Art? The Arab Uprisings and Artistic Production
Chairs: Dina A. Ramadan (Bard College) and Jennifer Pruitt (Smith College)

Saleem Al-Bahloly (University of California, Berkeley) Can There Be an Art of a Revolution? The Counter-Example of the Politics of Painting in 1950s Baghdad

Dina A Ramadan (Bard College) When Artists Become Martyrs: Understanding the Place of Art in the “Revolution”

Christiane Gruber (University of Michigan) “King of Kings of Africa”: Racializing Gaddafi in the Visual Output of the 2011 Libyan Revolution

Jennifer Pruitt (Smith College) Painted Discontent: The Role of Street Art in the Egyptian Revolution

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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,
Nada Shabout
President, AMCA

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Sunday November 18, 2012

In the Shadow of the Cold War: Modern Art in the Arab World

Organized by Sarah Rogers  (Darat al Funun) and Saleem Al-Bahloly (UC-Berkeley)

The convergence of Middle East studies and Cold War studies in recent years has brought the region’s strategic importance to bear upon a conflict conventionally conceived as a duel between capitalist fantasies and communist ideologies. Yet this scholarship has not thus far taken account of the role of the visual arts in the struggle, nor how that struggle bore upon the visual arts in the Middle East, despite the fact that both Cold War studies and American and European art history have documented the ways in which art, and particularly certain styles of painting, namely American abstract expressionism, was a site of ideological investment.

Scholarship on the visual arts in the Middle East has acknowledged the function of art in forging political alliances, which resulted in traveling exhibitions, artists’ residencies, cultural exchanges, and the establishment of university art departments, cultural centers, and publications that have been central to the region’s art scenes. However the current paradigms in this scholarship rely upon analytic conventions, themselves a product of the Cold War, that in overemphasizing national style and autonomy, fail to adequately situate the arts in the more general political context set by the Cold War, and thus fail to deal with the complexity of the artistic encounters that took place in the name of ‘cultural diplomacy’ as well as the often unintended and novel aesthetic shifts that resulted. This panel reframes the relation between art and politics in the 1950s and 1960s by considering that relation in a broader international context.

Panelists:
Sarah Rogers (Darat al Funun) American University of Beirut and the Formation of the Modern Lebanese Artist

Saleem al-Bahloly (UC-Berkeley) The Politics of the Modern Artwork in Cold War Iraq

Jessica Gerschultz (University of Kansas) Mutable Form and Materiality: “Interweaving” Art and Politics in the New Tapestry of Safia Farhat, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Maria Laskiewicz, and Jagoda Buic

Monday November 19, 2012

Arab Spring, Artistic Awakening? Art, Resistance and Revolution

Organized by Jennifer Pruitt (Smith College) and Dina A Ramadan (Bard College)

Since the early weeks of the “Arab Spring,” critics and commentators have been eager to assert that in something of an awakening, artists from the region are finally being allowed the freedom to express themselves after decades of repression. Exhibitions and symposia soon followed, primarily concerned with the unique and specific role played by artists in the groundswell of grassroots activism, as well as how artists are directly tackling political upheaval in their work.

This panel would like to engage in a more nuanced examination of the relationship between art and politics, one that recognizes the limitations of prescribing a role for artistic expression based on anachronistic understandings of contemporary revolutions. Given the evolving nature of the “revolutions” we have witnessed over the last year, what is the changing place for artistic production and how do we move beyond the temptation to assign artists the responsibility of representing the revolution.

Papers on this panel will propose possible paradigms through which to understand the complicated relationship between art and revolution from a range of disciplines. Two of the papers will consider artistic production in Egypt since the revolution, the first addressing the role of the artist, particularly the artist as martyr and the relationship that develops to our understanding of the work, while the second examines the explosion of graffiti art across the walls of Egypt. Continuing the interest in art in public spaces, the third paper will look at the Libyan context, and specifically the representations of Muammar al-Gaddafi, the so-called “King of Kings of Africa,” in which the opposition sought to degrade Gaddafi through the use of a variety of “BlackFace” visual stereotypes. The final paper uses the Syrian documentary film collective, Abounaddara, to problematize the characterization of art during the Syrian uprising as a ‘new’ genre and the uprising as an event with predetermined meaning.

Chair/Discussant: Elliott Colla (Georgetown University)

Panelists:

Christiane J. Gruber (University of Michigan) “King of Kings of Africa”: Racializing Gaddafi in the Visual Output of the 2011 Libyan Revolution

Jennifer Pruitt (Smith College) The Global Street: The Rise of Cairene Street Art, 2011-2012

Dina A Ramadan (Bard College) The Artist and the Martyr: Egyptian Art in the Time of Revolution

Anne-Marie McManus (Yale University) Demanding Images: Documenting Revolution in Syria

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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.

Submission rules: 
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:info@amcainternational.org.

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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.

 Submission rules:
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: info@amcainternational.org.

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June 1-2, 2012

Held in collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut, the conference was sponsored in collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut, supported by a generous donation from Rana Sadik and Samer Younis, and the Provost and Dean of FAS at AUB. Special thanks to Saleh Barakat.

Presenters Saleem al-Bahloly, Bassam el Baroni, Saleh Barakat, James Casey, Clare Davies, Angela Harutyunyan, Patrick Kane, Anneka Lenssen, Alexandra Dika Seggerman, and Tammer El-Sheikh responded to our call for papers.

CFP: Historical writing about modern and contemporary art has tended to frame its narratives around key political events, using these moments to demonstrate a rupture of some sort in the institution of “art” and approaches to its production and ambition. For example, we understand that the atrocity of the bombing of the civilian town of Guernica in 1937, shocked Picasso into a new understanding of painting’s power to represent human suffering; after World War II, artists sought to express existential angst in tune with the apparent death of civilizational certainties; after the student and labor protests of 1968, artists rejected the formalist legacy of modernism and sought transgressive, performative modes of creativity and/or political critique. And so on. The narratives that have been mobilized to write a history of Arab art are no exception. The 1967 Naksa, the swift defeat of the Arab armies at the hands of the Israeli Army, and with it the creation of massive refugee groups and the rapid unraveling of the project of Arab nationalism, has been marked by art historians as perhaps the most significant moment in recent history, one that changed aesthetic sensibilities and thus forever reshaped contemporary artistic production in the region.

As part of its ongoing critical engagement with the writing of an art history of the Arab world, AMCA proposes to convene a conference to reexamine this, perhaps the most defining event in our subject’s historiography. To date, the narrative of breakage and radical inversions associated with 1967 remains prevalent (if not entirely dominant). At the same time, it has gone oddly unexamined. By some tellings, the shocking loss of life and territory as well rendered artists’ indulgence in a modernist aesthetics of abstraction entirely illegitimate. It became imperative to mobilize art within a larger oppositional cause, to re-focus the energies of defeated populations so as to rise again against Western imperialism. By other tellings, the defeat prompted artists to finally break with the party lines offered by their patron-governments, opening up to experimental aesthetics and avant-garde attitudes. Other narratives emerge from between these poles, talking about the loss of centralized patronage and the shifting terrain of the artistic livelihood in the post-Arabist decade of the 1970s. No single model seems quite to capture or explicate the claims made for “1967” as a key political event. We hope to return to these and other narratives and begin to track not only the immediate effects of the 1967 war, but also its longer-term transformational effects, as manifested in the many art worlds and art movements that intersected in the Arab world of the 1960s, and after. To put it bluntly: if we know that everything changed, how do we know it? Can we document it? See it? Track it? Diagnose it? Deny it?

Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab gave the keynote response on both days. Discussants included Dina Ramadan, Sarah Rogers, Nada Shabout, and Salwa Mikdadi.

Click HERE for more details
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June 1-2, 2012
American University of Beirut
Bathish Auditorium in AUB’s West Hall
Free and Open to the public

Click HERE for details

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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.

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Call For Papers

CFP: Edited Collection-Unveiling Fashion: Gender, Islam, and Global Modernities – Nida Sajid, Dept. of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures(AMESALL)and Ellorashree Maitra, Dept. of English, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey

This collection of interdisciplinary essays will trace the historical trajectory of the production, circulation, and consumption of Muslim femininity and fashion from early modernity to the era of transnational globalization. The essays will collectively work through the politics of zenana (feminine)fashion, to unravel how dress and appearance have historically constituted complex, embodied performances of Muslim feminine identity and community in the global arena. Our goal is to investigate the aesthetic and political impact of discourses of modernity in the fashioning of Muslim women’s bodies, dress,and lives in multiple geographical sites from the early modern period through the post-9/11 era. We are especially interested in essays that theorize fashion in new, innovative ways so as to complicate traditional accounts of the harem, seraglio, and zenana as secluded spaces harboring communities frozen in time. We welcome scholarly contributions from a broad spectrum of disciplines (such as literature, film, history, religion, anthropology, gender studies, and art history, etc.) and addressing topics including (but not limited to):

– Censorship and Iranian Cinema
– Bollywood Aesthetics
– Performance Traditions in Islamic Cultures
– Theatre and Empire
– Memoirs, Letters, and Autobiographies
– Orientalism and Travel Writings
– Graphic Novels and Comics
– Art and Visual Culture
– Architectural Spaces and Everyday Life
– Representations of Harems and Seraglios
– Weddings and other Ritual Ceremonies
– The Glamour Industry and Consumer Capitalism
– Cross Dressing and Border Crossings
– Power Dressing and Politics
– Veils and Headscarves in Public Discourse
– Citizenship and Civil Society
– Identity and Faith in Islamic Diaspora

Please submit an abstract of 300-500 words and a brief CV to unveilingfashion@gmail.com by July 31, 2012. Authors will be notified by September 15 whether or not their abstract has been accepted. The deadline for full-length article, if accepted, is January 15, 2013. Articles should be between 6,000 and 9,000 words in length, accompanied by an abstract of around 200 words. All submissions will be peer reviewed and the editors will notify authors of acceptance for publication by March 15, 2013. Preliminary inquiries are welcome: kindly address them to unveilingfashion@gmail.com

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February 24th 2012, 12:30–2pm
Chair: Pamela Karimi, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Wafaa Bilal, New York University
Salwa Mikdadi, Emirates Foundation
Nada Shabout, University of North Texas
Sandra Skurvida, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York

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June 1-2, 2012
American University of Beirut
Bathish Auditorium in AUB’s West Hall

Conference sponsored in collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut, supported by a generous donation from Rana Sadik and Samer Younis, and the Provost and Dean of FAS at AUB.

Program to be posted shortly.

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Christiane Gruber, prizewinner Maria Domene-Danés, Nada Shabout at the prize reception
Christiane Gruber, prizewinner Maria Domene-Danés, Nada Shabout at the prize reception

AMCA is pleased to announce that Maria Domene-Danés has won the 2011 Rhonda A. Saad Prize for the Best Graduate Paper in Modern Arab Art. A committee comprised of Hannah Feldman, Jessica Winegar and Nada Shabout selected her paper, “Disrupting Narratives, Unveiling Biopolitics in the Atlas Group Archive,” for this, the inaugural awarding of the annual prize. Maria is currently a graduate student at Indiana University Bloomington, studying under Professor Dawna Schuld. The advising faculty member for her paper was Professor Christiane Gruber. In addition, the committee acknowledged honorable mention to Yazan Khalili for his submission, “Darkness Against the Landscape: De-familiarizing the Image.”

We congratulation Maria on the honor!

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The Longevity of Rupture: 1967 in Art and its Histories
June 1-2, 2012

Historical writing about modern and contemporary art has tended to frame its narratives around key political events, using these moments to demonstrate a rupture of some sort in the institution of “art” and approaches to its production and ambition. For example, we understand that the atrocity of the bombing of the civilian town of Guernica in 1937, shocked Picasso into a new understanding of painting’s power to represent human suffering; after World War II, artists sought to express existential angst in tune with the apparent death of civilizational certainties; after the student and labor protests of 1968, artists rejected the formalist legacy of modernism and sought transgressive, performative modes of creativity and/or political critique. And so on. The narratives that have been mobilized to write a history of Arab art are no exception. The 1967 Naksa, the swift defeat of the Arab armies at the hands of the Israeli Army, and with it the creation of massive refugee groups and the rapid unraveling of the project of Arab nationalism, has been marked by art historians as perhaps the most significant moment in recent history, one that changed aesthetic sensibilities and thus forever reshaped contemporary artistic production in the region.

As part of its ongoing critical engagement with the writing of an art history of the Arab world, AMCA proposes to convene a conference to reexamine this, perhaps the most defining event in our subject’s historiography. To date, the narrative of breakage and radical inversions associated with 1967 remains prevalent (if not entirely dominant). At the same time, it has gone oddly unexamined. By some tellings, the shocking loss of life and territory as well rendered artists’ indulgence in a modernist aesthetics of abstraction entirely illegitimate. It became imperative to mobilize art within a larger oppositional cause, to re-focus the energies of defeated populations so as to rise again against Western imperialism. By other tellings, the defeat prompted artists to finally break with the party lines offered by their patron-governments, opening up to experimental aesthetics and avant-garde attitudes. Other narratives emerge from between these poles, talking about the loss of centralized patronage and the shifting terrain of the artistic livelihood in the post-Arabist decade of the 1970s. No single model seems quite to capture or explicate the claims made for “1967” as a key political event. We hope to return to these and other narratives and begin to track not only the immediate effects of the 1967 war, but also its longer-term transformational effects, as manifested in the many art worlds and art movements that intersected in the Arab world of the 1960s, and after. To put it bluntly: if we know that everything changed, how do we know it? Can we document it? See it? Track it? Diagnose it? Deny it?

Thus, for the upcoming conference “The Longevity of Rupture: 1967 in Art and its Histories,” AMCA is calling for either papers or panels that take the presumed centrality of 1967 in Arab art history back up as a subject of inquiry. We especially encourage papers dealing with specific studies of artworks, artists, manifestos, collectives, and discourses. Panels might propose to consider what is at stake in framing contemporary art history in the region around a moment of defeat, whether it is possible to speak of an aesthetics of trauma that is present in post 1967 art, and in what ways artworks themselves might register such total epistemological change, or not. Or, panels might mobilize the problems glimpsed in the historiography around 1967 to engage periods or problems that are not immediately adjacent to the political and aesthetic conditions of that loss. We hope to draw on a range of disciplines and types of expertise. Paper topics and approaches need not be limited to that of art history and criticism as traditionally understood. Ultimately, we are seeking to raise methodological questions about the writing of art history in the region, and to begin the intellectual work of addressing them in ways that engage the historical record in conjunction with the economic, social, and emotional legacies of 1967.

AMCA is currently accepting individual paper proposals as well as panel proposals. 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 December 15, 2011 to: info@amcainternational.org. A response will be given in January 2012.

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Dear AMCA members,

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: info@amcainternational.org. 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.

All best,

Nada Shabout, President, shabout@unt.edu
Sarah Rogers, President-elect, sarrog@yahoo.com
Dina Ramadan, Secretary, dinaramadan@gmail.com 
Anneka Lenssen, Treasurer, anneka@mit.edu

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Dear AMCA members,

Dear AMCA members,

We have finally launched our new, moderated H-AMCA e-mail list-service!
http://www.h-net.org/~amca/

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).

Sincerely,
Nada Shabout
President

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February 9th 2011, 12:30-2pm

Over the past decade, modern art of the Arab world has received intense interest within not only the international marketplace but also the U.S. and European academies. Yet, scholarship remains trapped within the colonial paradigm. Most art histories of modern Arab art to date proceed by a chronological model that attributes the emergence of modern art in the Arab world to colonial influence. Introduced by Europeans during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, modern art—both its technologies and the social category of the artist—is considered a foreign import. The chronological-colonial narrative is, in many ways, a distorting one. It interprets modern Arab artistic engagement with western art as imitative or belated while neglecting the transnational – local, regional, and international- vectors of influence that converged to produce visual art and culture at a given place and time. Furthermore, this model often privileges national art histories, decolonization struggles, and identity politics at the expense of broader and more complex historical trends that extended across the region.

The chronological-colonial model is not unique to the study of modern Arab art, but rather extends to the field of modern art in geographies that share a colonial history such as Latin America, South East Asia, and Africa. In an effort to chart new methodological approaches to understanding the production of modern Arab art outside this conventional paradigm, this special session brings together scholars whose work examines modern art production throughout various post-colonial contexts. In doing so, this roundtable aims to chart the convergences and divergences between the region of the Middle East and other locations previously assumed peripheral to the study of Modernism. By attending to questions of history and historiography, we will consider the relationship between the chronological-colonial model and conventional art historical paradigms of influence, asking in what ways the post-colonial framework is a productive analytical unit for understanding the history of modern art, its proposed aesthetic values, and its diverse and precarious origins.

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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 = ickysnuffer@yahoo.com and password = LaCoss64

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Dear AMCA members,

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 info@amcainternational.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 treasurer@amcainternational.org.

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 treasurer@amcainternational.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,
Nada Shabout
President
December 2010

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Friday, 11/19/2010 02:00pm

Organized by Dina A. Ramadan & Sarah A. Rogers

Chair/Discussant: Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, Northestern University
Dina A. Ramadan, Bard College —Writing for Art and Freedom: Reading Aesthetics and Ideology in Al-Tatawwur
Z. Pamela Karimi, UMASS-Dartmouth —The Visual Culture of the Left in Cold War Iran
Donald LaCoss, U of Wisconsin LaCrosse—The Arab Surrealist Movement in Exile, 1973-1980
Sarah A. Rogers, Columbia University Middle East Research Center, Amman — Palestinian Art & Leftist Politics in Beirut
Omnia ElShakry, UC Davis — The Specter of the Political and the Promise of Politics: Contemporary Artistic Production and the Middle East

This panel will consider the informative relationship between aesthetic and political languages in artistic production and its surrounding discourses in the modern Middle East. Of particular interest is the interaction between various “leftist” political movements in the region (and here the interpretation of such groups is certainly expansive) and the visual arts. Histories of the left in the region have largely neglected artistic practices, focusing instead on what are more conventionally seen as socio-political and economic concerns and movements. Any attention to the artistic production has been limited to seeing artworks as merely reflective of political situations or agendas. Similarly within the emerging field of Middle Eastern art history, an engagement with the political, particularly with leftist discourses, conventionally privileges an ideological reading at the expense of aesthetics. In this way, form is often separated from content, and aesthetics are emptied of their potentially diverse political manifestations. Instead, this panel aims to understand the ways in which political and aesthetic languages inform, and are made to speak to, one another. In doing so, we aim to raise questions as to how political agendas are articulated artistically and similarly how artistic movements are mobilized politically. Where do tensions arise, where do boundaries blur, when does it become (im)possible to talk about clear distinctions, and why?

In order to address these questions, papers examine a series of case studies that cross disciplines, national boundaries, and time periods. Topics include: the Egyptian Trotskyist artists’ group al-Fann wa-l-Hurriyah; the Arab Surrealist movement in exile (1973-1980); Beirut-based Palestinian art and activism in the decades before the Lebanese civil war; Marxist art criticism in pre-1979 Iran and the role of contemporary art from the Middle East as a staging ground for politics at the Istanbul Biennial.

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December 16.17, 2010

This, our first AMCA conference, brought together established and emerging scholars working throughout the world to present research and think through the intellectual problems shaping the field of modern Arab art today. It was hosted in collaboration with Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar and took place in conjunction with the museum’s inaugural events and exhibition openings.

Papers were given by: Raja Adal, Jessica Gerschultz, Sarah-Neel Smith, Sharif Mahmoud Sharif, Elizabeth Miller, Patrick Kane, Sonja Mejcher-Atassi, Cynthia Becker, Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, Holiday Powers, Saleem al-Bahloly, Chad Elias, Karin Zitzewitz, and Samah Hijawi.

Chairs and Discussants included: Wijdan el-Hashimi, Tina Sherwell, Salwa Mikdadi, Kirsten Scheid, Kamal Boullata, Stephen Sheehi, Charbel Dagher, Hannah Feldman, Nasser Rabbat, Iftikhar Dadi, Suad Amiry, and Arindam Dutta.

To view video footage of presented papers, see: http://www.youtube.com/user/mathafmodern (There are 23 parts).

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Saadand WarrenDear 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:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=ZKSS4CWN8CWRE

For those without access to Paypal, please contact treasurer@amcainternational.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.

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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.

Submission rules:

  1. The paper must have been produced between June 2010-June 2011
  2. The paper must not exceed 35 pages, excluding notes and bibliography
  3. The paper must not be or ever been submitted for publication

Submissions for the 2011 prize must be submitted via email to info@amcainternational.org no later than October 1 2011.

2011-2013 Committee: Hannah Feldman (Chair), Jessica Winegar, and Nada Shabout.

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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: info@amcainternational.org

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Pirated Politics: Contemporary Art, Artists, and the Post-production of the Middle East

Chairs: Anneka Lenssen and Rhonda Saad
Discussant: Nada Shabout

Rhonda Saad, (Mis)consuming Reality in Omer Fast’s The Casting (2007)
Elizabeth Rauh, Street Art in Post-Revolutionary Iran
Kathy Zarur, Mediated Reality In and Out of Palestine

Between Public Memory and National Narrative: The Visual Document and History in the Middle East

Chairs: Mitra Abbaspour and Alex Seggerman
Discussant: Kishwar Rizvi

Joanne Nucho, Ordering History in Time: The Beirut National Museum
Katie Pfohl, Joseph Lindon Smith’s Painting Excavations of Egypt
Alexandra Dika Seggerman, The Street and the Road: Public Art in Cairo
Mitra M. Abbaspour, Collecting Truths: Strategies of the Photo Archive in Contemporary Lebanese Art

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A History of the Real World: Realism and the Visual Arts in Egypt and Lebanon
Organized by Raja Adal and Sarah Rogers

Jennifer Pruitt, Harvard U–Reconsidering Realism in Early Fatimid Art: The Fatimid Luster Workshop of Muslim bin al-Dahhan
Dina A. Ramadan, Columbia U–Evaluating Real Images: Early Egyptian Art Criticism and the Pursuit of Realism
Raja Adal, Harvard U–Reality and Unreality in Egyptian Primary School Drawing Classes during the First Half of the Twentieth Century
Stephen Sheehi, U of South Carolina–It’s Like Really Being There: al-Nahdah, Ideology and the Photographic Aesthetic
Sarah Rogers, MIT–Daoud Corm, Realism, and the Origins of Lebanese Art

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Art Without History? Evaluating ‘Arab’ Art
Organized by Nada Shabout, Dina Ramadan & Sarah Rogers
Chair: Nada Shabout & Silvia Naef
Discussant: Shiva Balaghi

Sarah Rogers, MIT-Building a Market, Defining an Audience: Beirut’s Gallery System, 1960s & 1970s
Dina Ramadan, Columbia University-Visualizing the Nadha: Egyptian Artists’ Collectives and their Criticism during the Interwar Years 
Anneka Lenssen, MIT-London’s Arab Renaissance c. 1975 
Salwa Mikdadi, Independent Curator-Women and Institutionalization of Contemporary Art Practices in the Arab World
Katarzyna Pieprzak, Williams College-Art in the Streets: Modern Art, Museum Practice and the Urban Environment in Contemporary Morocco
Caecilia Pieri, Paris/Amman Ahlia University, Jordan-Modernity and its Post in Constructing an Arab Capital: Baghdad’s urban space, context and questions EHESS
Nadine Khalil, AUB-Lebanese Cultural Workers and Artists: Navigating the Arab Cultural Terrain in New York and Beirut

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