Cultural Initiatives in North Africa and the Middle East
The Kamel Lazaar Foundation and Ibraaz are pleased to announce that they were the online media partners, alongside the International New York Times, for Art Dubai's 2014 Global Art Forum. Ibraaz (www.ibraaz.org) streamed the forum live from the Dubai venues, and published exclusive video interviews with the panellists, individual panel discussions, and bilingual transcriptions.
Titled Meanwhile...History, Global Art Forum 8 explored a timeline of turning points in history - significant decades, years, days, minutes or seconds that shifted an understanding of the world. Co-directed by curator-translator Omar Berrada of Dar al-Ma'mun and artist Ala Younis, and commissioned by writer Shumon Basar, the forum reflected on the philosophy and fiction of making history matter.
Global Art Forum 8 took place at Katara Art Center, Doha, on 15 and 16 March, and at Art Dubai, Mina A' Salam, Madinat Jumeirah, from 19 to 21 March. For the full programme, see below.
WEDNESDAY 19 MARCH 2014
ART DUBAI, MINA A' SALAM, MADINAT JUMEIRAH, DUBAI
3:00pm - 3:10pm
WELCOME & INTRODUCTION
3:10pm - 3:45pm
INTERVIEW: Crisis: The End of Pearling in the Gulf
For several millennia, the world's finest pearls were fished in the Gulf. It provided work (much of it gruelling), wealth and identity. When the Japanese Mikimoto Kōkichi developed the first artificially cultured pearl at the end of the 19th century, it signalled the beginning of the end for Gulf pearling. A period of great economic strife ensued, bringing with it poverty and uncertainty.
Butheina Kazim (Fulbright scholar of Media Culture and Communication, New York University) and Frauke Heard-Bey (Abu Dhabi-based Historian).
3:45pm - 4:45pm
INTERVIEW: 1971-79: The Short Seventies (UAE)
The United Arab Emirates was founded in December 1971, only a few years after oil reserves were discovered there. Nation building and the building of new city-states became intimately entwined. Modern architecture, though on the wane in the West, found itself active in the UAE, soon manifest as municipal, domestic and corporate projects. This spirit of a new future was crystallized in the opening of Dubai's Jebel Ali Port and World Trade Centre in 1979. However, in the accelerated time-landscape of the Gulf, this period often lacks national affection and is slowly being erased. Why?
Adina Hempel (Assistant professor, College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, Zayed University and head of research for the National Pavilion of the UAE Venice Architecture Biennale 2014), Todd Reisz (Visiting assistant professor, Yale University School of Architecture and Editor of Al Manakh and Portal 9) and Guests.
4:45pm - 5:15pm
PAPER: 2005: Alternative Futures of Art History between Iran and Dubai
'The present of art is always in the past and in the future.' So wrote Jacques Rancière, a sentiment that extends to an art collection, which becomes a visual archive, a repository of the future of images. According to an Iranian artist in 1968, 'Art can provide a vision for a way of living in an alternative future.'
Cultural historian Shiva Balaghi (Professor, Departments of History and History of Art, Brown University) traces alternative timelines of Iranian art history in Mohammed Afkhami's Dubai based collection.
5:15pm - 6:00pm
DISCUSSION: 778AH: Ibn Khaldun's The Muqadimmah
The Muqadimmah is the most important Islamic history of the premodern world. Written by the fourteenth-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun, this work laid down the foundations of several fields of knowledge, including philosophy of history, sociology, ethnography and economics. What are its intellectual legacies, its lessons on historiography, and influence on subsequent historians around the world?
Jocelyne Dahklia (Professor, L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) and Justin Stearns (Assistant professor of Arab Crossroads Studies, New York University Abu Dhabi). Hosted by Shuddhabrata Sengupta (Artist and writer, Raqs Media Collective).
THURSDAY 20 MARCH 2014
3:00pm - 3:05pm
3:05pm - 3:30pm
PAPER: 1-7 September 1920: Soviet Orientalism and Political Mobilization
During the week of 1-7 September 1920, the Third Communist International (Comintern) convened the First Congress of the Peoples of the East in Baku. Over 2000 delegates converged in the capital of Soviet Azerbaijan from across India, Iran, Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and other so-called 'Eastern' regions, drawn by Bolshevik's public support for anti-imperialism, social equality, and the struggle against capitalist domination. This event and the subsequent 1920s transformations in Soviet policies towards 'the East' would inform Soviet academic practices and political administration for many decades. As a story, these events offer an important point of departure from Edward Said's more famous European-focused critique of Orientalism.
Masha Kirasirova (Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow of History, New York University Abu Dhabi).
3:30pm - 4:30pm
DISCUSSION: 1955-2055: A Documenta Century
The first edition of Documenta took place in Kassel, Germany, in 1955. It focused on the 'Degenerate' modern art banned during the Nazi era. Over its subsequent six decades, Documenta shifted focus to contemporary Western art and then expanded its geographic horizons, some might say, mirroring the globalization of the world, to become the era defining event it is today.
Catherine David (Art historian and independent curator), Okwui Enwezor (Director, Haus der Kunst and director of the Visual Arts Sector of the 56th Biennale di Venezia, 2015), Adam Szymczyk (Director, Kunsthalle Basel and artistic director of documenta 14, 2017). Hosted by Hans Ulrich Obrist (Curator, co-director of exhibitions and programmes and director of international projects, Serpentine Gallery).
4:30pm - 5:00pm
TRIP: 869 -: Tracing Dissent at the Margins of Empire: Pan-Kaffirism in Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Iraq
What are the languages, people, and histories that waned under Pan-Arabism? What does the Zanj Rebellion have to do with Ajami scripts and disparate Kaffir identifications? Who was Kali bint Junoob al-Kapiśi?
Rahel Aima and Ahmad Makia, Editors, The State.
5:00pm - 6:00pm
DISCUSSION: 1971-79: The Short Seventies (World)
A quick glance through Wikipedia tells you that in 1971, Bangladesh fought for independence, and in 1979, the Shah of Iran was ousted by an exiled Ayotollah. Events between sound like a long-lost Billy Joel song: Oil Crisis, world's first microprocessor, the opening of the World Trade Centre in New York, the death of modern architecture in Chicago, coups in Chile and Greece to name a few. Were the building blocks of our contemporary world set in place during this short decade, to paraphrase Eric Hobsbawm's famous description of the 20th century? And what were some of the moments Wikipedia fails to remember?
Marina Fokidis (Independent curator-writer and founding director of the Kunsthalle Athena & South magazine), Brett Steele (Director, Architectural Association School of Architecture), Tirdad Zolghadr (Writer and curator). Hosted by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera (Author and academic).
FRIDAY 21 MARCH 2014
PAPER: Sulayman Al Bassam (Writer and director)
DISCUSSION: 1942-1982: Kuwait's Experiments and the Confidence Interval
Oil revenues rendered Kuwait's promise of progress and modernity into physical symbols. A cast of artists, architects, actors and financiers crafted an era of confidence that starts as early as the first art exhibition in 1942. The crash of the stock market in 1982 is said to have challenged this unique experimental spirit. The peak of this 'Confidence Interval' is the 1970s. Circulism, Andy Warhol, Kenzo Tange, Hassan Fathy and the Dramatic Arts are a few of its most notable contours.
Farah Al-Nakib (Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Centre for Gulf Studies, American University of Kuwait), Kristine Khouri (Researcher and writer). Hosted by Ala Younis (Artist, curator and co-director of Global Art Forum 8).
TRIP: 1966-: Extremely Soft Power; Or, Trajectories of the Sudanese Gulf
Less storied but as pivotal as 1968, 1966 was the fulcrum of the Sixties, a year of coups, radical congresses, and artistic monuments - including, especially, Tayeb Salih's novel Season of Migration to the North in Hiwar, an obscure but feisty Beiruti journal, secretly funded by the CIA.
Michael C. Vazquez (Senior Editor, Bidoun).
DISCUSSION: Meanwhile … Meanwhile: Lapses in Time and Narrative
How does a writer or a filmmaker skip forward or flash back? And how do they account for history's gaps, elisions, and returns? What exactly happens in the meanwhile, in the two months earlier, in the ever after? What is a narrative time lapse? Let's dwell on the meanwhile, on the ghosts of time, on what embodies and disembodies it. Let's dwell in the meanwhile.
John Akomfrah (Artist, filmmaker and writer), Marina Warner (Writer). Hosted by Omar Berrada (Writer, translator, co-director of Dar al-Ma'mûn and co-director of Global Art Forum 8). The session's video montage by Hind Mezaina (Artist and writer/blogger).
VIDEO-POSTCARDS, by Artists Sarah Abu Abdallah and Raja'a Khalid are played during the Forum's intermissions.