AMCA-sponsored panel at the 2013 Annual Meeting – Middle East Studies Association | AMCA | Association for Modern + Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran + Turkey

AMCA-sponsored panel at the 2013 Annual Meeting – Middle East Studies Association

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?

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)