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An Accidental Orientalist: Tom Bogaert in conversation with Anthony Downey

27 September 2012

Tom Bogaert, Emerson Lake and Palmer, screenshots from DVD Pictures at an exhibition, 1971. © ELP.

Having worked as a lawyer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Tom Bogaert has managed to garner a degree of access to communities throughout the Middle East that is often difficult to acquire. In his work with refugees he has witnessed first-hand the geo-politics of the region and since 2004, has channelled that knowledge into his practice as an artist. Speaking here to Anthony Downey, he explores the research processes that lead up to producing work and the sound project he has developed exclusively for Ibraaz. The latter involves sounds from cities in countries as diverse as Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria, and Ibraaz is pleased to showcase it here. Elsewhere in this conversation, Bogaert explores the backdrop to his multi-media project Syria, which was produced this year; his ongoing  ideas for a mausoleum for Bashar Al Assad; the overt aestheticisation of warfare and combat in the region; and the issue of whose interests are served by seemingly innocuous terms such as ‘Facebook Revolution’ and ‘walking through walls’, the latter phrase having been deployed by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in their strategising of combat situations in cities such as Nablus. (more…)

Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings

University of California Press, 2012 | CONTRIBUTOR

Theories and documentsAmbitious and interdisciplinary, this long-awaited collaboration is a landmark presentation of the writings of contemporary artists. These influential essays, interviews, and critical and theoretical comments provide bold and fertile insights into the construction of visual knowledge. Featuring a wide range of leading and emerging artists since 1945, the collection – while comprehensive and authoritative – offers the reader some eclectic surprises as well. Included here are texts that have become pivotal documents in contemporary art, along with writings that cover unfamiliar ground. Some are newly translated, others have never before been published. Together they address visual literacy, cultural studies, and the theoretical debates regarding modernism and postmodernism. The full panoply of visual media is represented, from painting and sculpture to environments, installations, performance, conceptual art, video, photography, and virtual reality. Thematic concerns range from figuration and process to popular culture, art and technology, and politics and the media. Contemporary issues of gender, race, class, and sexuality are also addressed. Kristine Stiles’ general introduction is a succinct overview of artists’ theories in the evolution of contemporary discourse around art. Introductions to each chapter provide synopses of the cultural contexts in which the texts originated and brief biographies of individual artists. The text is augmented by outstanding photographs, many of artists in their studios, and vivid, contemporary art images. Reflecting the editors’ shared belief that artists’ own theories provide unparalleled access to visual knowledge, this book, like its distinguished predecessors, Hershel Chipp’s “Theories of Modern Art” (with Peter Selz and Joshua Taylor) and Joshua Taylor’s “Nineteenth-Century Theories of Art”, will be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in contemporary art.

Chapter authored: Yinka Shonibare Interviewed by Anthony Downey.

To purchase a copy of Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings please follow this link.

Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985

John Wiley & Sons, 2012 | CONTRIBUTOR

Theory in Contemporary Art since 1985Updated and reorganized to offer the best collection of state-of-the-art readings on the role of critical theory in contemporary art, this second edition of Theory in Contemporary Art since 1985 brings together scholarly essays, artists’ statements, and art reproductions to capture the vibrancy and dissonance that define today’s art scene.

  • Incorporates new and updated topics that have become central to art theory and practice over the past decade
  • New and updated chapters cover such topics as: international biennials, historicizing of the term “contemporary art”, aesthetics, art and politics, feminism and pornography, ecology and art, the Middle East and conflict studies, Eastern European art and politics, gender and war, and technology
  • Features a thematic reconfiguration of sections and new introductions to make readings user–friendly
  • Extensively illustrated throughout with an expanded color-plate section
  • New contributions to this edition include those by Alexander Alberro, Claire Bishop, T.J. Demos, Anthony Downey, Liam Gillick, Marina Gr iniæ, Mary Kelly, Chantal Mouffe, Beatriz Preciado, Jacques Ranciere, Blake Stimson, and Chin-Tao Wu.

Chapter authored: Zones of Indistinction: Giorgio Agamben’s ‘Bare Life’ and the Politics of Aesthetics (2009).

To purchase a copy of Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1985 please follow this link.

Where to Now: Chkoun Ahna at the National Museum of Carthage, Tunis

30 May 2012

View from Carthage National Museum. Photograph © ATP/Ibraaz Publishing, 2012.

The city of Carthage is a tale of multiculturalism and globalisation before these terms had currency in post-colonial studies and the free market rhetoric of neo-liberal expansionism. The name of the city has roots in Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, Phoenician, Etruscan, Arabic, and Ancient Greek terminology. It has also been populated by Phoenicians, Romans and Arabs over a history that reaches back to the 1st millennium BC and was a significant locus of international trade until recently. Amongst its present-day ruins, tourists flock to see not only the extant remains of the Roman Forum that once stood there but the view from the hill of Byrsa, a purview of influence over a crucial Mediterranean route that once made Carthage one of the most important pre-industrial cities in the world (perhaps second only to Alexandria during the Hellenistic period). Today, however, Carthage is a suburb of Tunis with a population of no more than 25,000 people. As with all great cities, Carthage has indeed seen better days. (more…)

Word Stress: Lawrence Abu Hamdan in conversation with Anthony Downey

02 May 2012

In a recent project with the Showroom in London, Lawrence Abu Hamdan presented The Freedom of Speech Itself (2012), an audio documentary that examined the history and application of forensic speech analysis and voice-prints in the United Kingdom’s controversial use of ‘voice analysis’. Accent, always a key signifier in determining an individual’s identity, has now become a means to proscribe and outlaw certain accents when determining the origins and authenticity of asylum seekers’ accents and their places of origin. Drawing on testimony from lawyers, phonetic experts, asylum seekers and Home Office officials, The Freedom of Speech Itself reveals the geo-politics of accents, and how such processes create newer and ill-defined states of exceptionalism when it comes to the rights of refugees. The show also included excerpts from Abu Hamdan’s audio archive and a workshop led by the artist on Harold Pinter’s play Mountain Language, written in 1988. In this conversation, Anthony Downey explores the motivation behind this work with the artist and how it has developed as an investigation into both the legal status of the voice and, perhaps more importantly, the legal implications of silence in the face of immigration laws today. (more…)

Home Workspace: Christine Tohme in conversation with Anthony Downey

02 May 2012

View of Home Workspace, 2011. Photograph by Houssam Mchaiemch. Courtesy of Home Workspace, Beirut.

Since its inception in 1994, Ashkal Alwan has become an international platform for the creation and exchange of ideas around artistic practices and educational processes. Having initially committed its resources to introducing the work of artists who were working within, and following on from the events of post-war Lebanon, the organization has since developed residencies, a research hub, public and civic projects, and an extensive education programme. One of these projects, Home Works Forum (HWF), launched in 2002, has since evolved into a pre-eminent platform for research on cultural practices within the region and beyond. Another project, launched last year under the name Home Workspace (HW), is a multipurpose facility dedicated to research, production and education in the context of contemporary artistic practices and debate. Housing production and editing studios, performance spaces, auditoriums, and Lebanon’s first multimedia library for contemporary arts, Home Workspace is dedicated to developing an interdisciplinary approach to arts education in the Arab world. (more…)

An Aesthetics of Expiration: Ziad Antar in Conversation with Anthony Downey

02 May 2012

Ziad Antar, Cote d’Azure Hotel, Jnah Beirut, Built in 1973, 2007. Courtesy of Selma Feriani Gallery, London.

Born in Saida, Lebanon, in 1978, Ziad Antar studied at the American University in Beirut and the École Supérieure d’études Cinématographiques (ESEC) in Paris. His work in photography and video examines approaches to photography and what processes lie behind the production of images, not to mention their subsequent role as symbols of time passing, and the apparent realities of cities. Although not interested in the final quality of the image, Antar is singularly preoccupied with the exigencies and formal demands of image production and the everyday contexts out of which photographs emerge. What makes an image symbolic, he seems to ask; or, more simply, what makes an image? (more…)

Lost in Narration: Rabih Mroué in conversation with Anthony Downey

05 January 2012

Rabih Mroué, On Three Posters, reflections on a video-performance, 2004, installation detail, Iniva at Rivington Place, London, 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Iniva at Rivington Place, London.

Beirut-based artist, theatre director, actor and writer Rabih Mroué is a central figure in post-Civil War Beirut’s avant-garde scene. Beginning his career in the early 1990s, he has produced performances, video work and installations meditating on and questioning the legacy of Lebanon’s Civil War (1975-1990). A regular collaborator with Lebanese artists Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Mroué appeared alongside French actress Catherine Deneuve in their 2008 film, Je Veux Voir. His stage works conjoin the worlds of theatre and performance art as well as narrative fact and fiction. (more…)

Different Sames: New Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art

 Thames and Hudson, 2009 | CO-AUTHOR

Different samesLong considered a bastion of creativity in the region, Iran is currently experiencing a remarkable artistic revival in the middle of the most challenging of circumstances. Different Sames catalogues this new movement, capturing its brilliance and creative energy. Packed with wonderful images, it is an important and lively compendium of thought provoking essays, historical context and profiles of the country’s leading contemporary artists. Art changes the way we look at the world, and Different Sames is an attempt to explain todays Iranian art movement in this spirit.

Chapter authored: Diasporic Communities and Global Networks: The Contemporaneity of Iranian Art Today.

To purchase a copy of Different Sames: New Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art please follow this link.


Reference

Keshmirshekan, Hamid, Mark Irving, and Anthony Downey. Different Sames: New Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art. Ed. Hossein Amirsadeghi. London: Thames & Hudson, 2009.