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?
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?