Middle East studies in the News
The Role of Art in the Arab Spring [incl. Brian Edwards]
by Stephanie Kulke
What role did artists and artistic production have in the political upheaval of the Arab Spring and related social and political movements?
Northwestern University will expand this question over three days of conversation with Abdellah Karroum, director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar and founder of L'appartement 22, an experimental collaborative space for exhibitions and artists' residencies in Rabat, Morocco.
At Northwestern, Karroum will lead a series of conversations examining artistic production during the decade preceding the recent uprisings in Tunisia and the Arab world.
"Abdellah Karroum has not only exceptional taste in artistic production by creators working in many different media, but a transnational vision of global trends in the arts and how they intersect with geopolitics," said Brian Edwards, Crown Professor in Middle East Studies and director of Northwestern's MENA Program.
Karroum will give a free public talk titled "Generation 00: Artists as Citizens," (6 p.m. Feb. 23); a presentation at an all day colloquium, also featuring talks by faculty who specialize in Middle Eastern art, culture and politics (10 a.m. Feb. 25); and a lunchtime dialogue with Northwestern's Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) Program (12 p.m. Feb. 27).
These free public events will expand on the idea of "Generation 00" artists working as citizens who produced works opposing and critiquing the political and social situations of the early 21st century.
Karroum's research focuses on the years between 1999 and 2011, highlighting a long decade of disruptive artistic initiatives that preceded the democratic uprisings and political transformations of the Arab Spring .
The artists of this "Generation 00" intertwined politics with curatorial and editorial projects, offering new paths for change and citizen-led action. Representative artists include Amal Kenawy (Egypt), Manal Al Dowayan (Saudi Arabia), Ismail Bahri (Tunisia) and Mustapha Akrim (Morocco).
"Today, we find ourselves in the midst of a very important turn where we are both witnessing and participating in the reformulation of the role of cultural practices in the world, especially in relation to the museum and its tentacles," the curator told Art 21 Magazine. "More recently, I've met with a generation of artists at work who are inventing a new vocabulary."
Karroum's visit is presented in partnership between the Block Museum of Art, the Department of Art History and the Program in Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) with the support of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.
MENA Director Edwards said, "Abdellah Karroum's remarkable curatorial work in Morocco and Qatar, at opposite ends of the Arab world, has brought a range of inspiring projects and artists, both from the Middle East and North African regions and beyond, to our attention.
"We are enormously excited about this first step in building a collaboration between our institutions, Mathaf, the Block Museum and Northwestern's programs in art history and Middle East and North African studies, and the individuals across them who share intellectual and creative interests in 21st-century artistic and cultural production."Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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