Events

Keynote: Terrorism and Cultural Freedom Conference, Birmingham City University, 7 June 2016

7 June 2016

For more information click here

To register your attendance click here

Join us on 7 June for an intensive one-day discussion of the most critical issue facing the world, and the role and future of learning and culture within it. Though terrorism is associated currently with fundamentalism originating in the Middle East (and, for some, also with the response of western nation-states to it) forms of violent action against states, countries, cultures, groups and individuals has a long history.

Keynote speakers WJT MITCHELL, TARIQ ALI and ANTHONY DOWNEY will contribute incisive accounts of the stakes in this crisis, examining both ‘terror’ as an idea and its complex relations to a range of cultural and artistic practices, both historical and contemporary.

BCU provides a rich learning and research context in which to consider these issues. Papers will be given by BCU academics on a range of arts, cultural forms and modes directly implicated in the terror – in times both past and present. These include painting, cartoons, drama, film and performance. Universities are themselves implicated now in the state response to terrorism by western governments. The conference will enable this matter to be aired fully, as part of its critical review of the place and definition of cultural freedom in this new age of terror. Birmingham, as a global city, has a special significance in this debate and additional speakers with local interests will be added to the conference programme in the next few months.

For more information click here

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Speaker: Qalandiya International Symposium, London, 29 October 2016

29 October 2016

qalandiya international london

More information TBA here

Qalandiya International & DS22 London Symposium, Moments of Possibilities: Air, Land and Sea

Venue: The Mosaic Rooms

With land distribution and urban morphology in Palestine now being pushed to their extremes through the inclusion of certain communities, and the exclusion of others, the aim of this London event is to explore alternative means of re-reading ‘Air’, ‘Land’ and ‘Sea’ within the region by stripping away the dominating power of lines on the ground.

Stemming from the need for an alternative discourse that can heal and nourish real physical space as well as the space of imagination, it will look at ‘Air, Land and Sea’ in the hope of redefining a new geography beyond the currently enforced borders. Through acts such as ‘cutting’ and ‘breathing’, the event will include works that demonstrate the possibilities of reconstructing and stitching together fragmented spaces and Palestinian diasporic communities.

‘Air, Land and Sea’ will be the medium where boundaries are blurred and surfaces are merged. It aims to engage with nature and allow the cultural landscape to heal itself again in a constant process of wrapping and stitching together.

Alongside the series of installations, film screenings art and architectural projects taking place across the different venues in London, the one day symposium will bring together a diverse group of architects, artists, filmmakers, academics and professionals discussing the theme ‘This Sea is Mine’.

While crossing borders, the symposium will contemplate return and the refugees. The discussions aim to go beyond Palestine to include the displaced in and around the Mediterranean Sea. Unpacked by the different participants, the sea will be a medium to navigate through. A layer that can possibly bring to the surface that absent narratives of the contemporary Diaspora and of the ordinary people.

The symposium will question the role of artists, architects and other professionals within the complex political and economic structure, exploring whether alternatives can be offered to heal, and a new geography emerging from the sea can be created to mend the fractures. Notions of ‘home’, waiting, ‘return’ the absent narratives and other subjects raised by the exhibits and the participants will be explored.

A selection of participants from the exhibition will present their work in form of Pecha Kucha presentation, which will open up the exploration of themes exhibited by a panel round table discussion panel.

 

Anthony Downey and Beatrix Ruf in Conversation with Slavs and Tatars, 11 March 2015

 11 March 2015

Slavs & Tatars, Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi'ite Showbiz, installation view, 2011. Sharjah Biennale 10

Slavs & Tatars, Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi’ite Showbiz, installation view, 2011. Sharjah Biennale 10

Anthony Downey: If I understand correctly, the genre of ‘Mirrors for Princes’ involves a form of political writing or advisory literature for future rulers on matters both secular and spiritual. The genre was shared by Christian and Muslim lands, in particular during the Middle Ages, with Machiavelli’s The Prince (1532) and Speculum Regnum (ca 1183) or fürstenspiegel being two of the more well-known examples. Could you talk about this as an idea and how it manifests itself in the context of current work being produced by Slavs and Tatars?

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Book Launch: Future Imperfect at Delfina Foundation, 22 February, 2017

22 February, 2017

Future Imperfect

Wednesday 22 February 2017, 6.30-8.30pm.

Delfina Foundation, 29-31 Catherine Place, London SW1E 6DY.

 

We are pleased to celebrate the launch of Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East, volume 03 in our Contemporary Visual Culture in the Middle East series.

Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle Eastcritically examines the role played by cultural institutions in producing present-day and future contexts for the production, dissemination and reception of contemporary art in the Middle East and North Africa. It offers critical contexts for a discussion that has become increasingly urgent in recent years – the role of culture in a time of conflict and globalization – and an in-depth critique of the historical state of cultural institutions in an age of political upheaval, social unrest, exuberant cultural activity, ascendant neoliberal forms of privatization, social activism, and regional uncertainty.

Organised around three key areas, Future Imperfect draws attention to the specific antagonisms that have affected cultural production across the region, both in historical and more recent post-revolutionary contexts, and offers an in-depth discussion of how cultural producers have developed alternative institutional models through their practices. How cultural institutions operate within the conditions of a global cultural economy, and alongside the often conflicting demands they place on cultural production in the region, is likewise an over-arching concern throughout this volume.

While the politics of contemporary cultural production and institutional practices in the Middle East can tell us a great deal about local and regional concerns, one of the cornerstone ambitions of this volume is to enquire into what they can also impart about the politics of global cultural production, including the multiple ways in which contemporary art practices are being reduced, willingly or otherwise, to the logic of global capital. What, in sum, is needed in terms of infrastructure for cultural production today, and how, crucially, can we speculatively propose new infrastructures and institutions in the context of present-day regional realities?

Future Imperfect contains essays, interviews, and projects from contributors including Monira Al Qadiri, Hoor Al-Qasimi, Anahi Alviso-Marino, AMBS Architects, Stephanie Bailey, Eray Çaylı, Rachel Dedman, Elizabeth Derderian, Anthony Downey, Karen Exell, Reema Salha Fadda, Wafa Gabsi, Hadia Gana, Adalet R. Garmiany, Baha Jubeh, Suhair Jubeh, Amal Khalaf, Kamel Lazaar, Jens Maier-Rothe, Guy Mannes-Abbott, Doreen Mende, Lea Morin, Jack Persekian, Rijin Sahakian, Gregory Sholette, Tom Snow, Ania Szremski, Christine Tohme, Toleen Touq, Williams Wells, Ala Younis and Yasmine Zidane.

 

Read the introduction to Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East, by Anthony Downey by clicking here.

 

 

Future Imperfect is available via the Sternberg Press website and on Amazon.de.

Edinburgh International Book Festival: Art on the Attack

The University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Friday, 28 August 2015, 16.00 – 15.00

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The Edinburgh International Book Festival is the largest public celebration of the written word in the world. Every August they bring over 800 writers and thinkers from across the planet together to rub shoulders with their readers.

“Visual art needn’t just be nice to look at or confusing to behold, it can also be politically aware. For Art and Politics Now, Anthony Downey searched the globe for ambitious, daring and socially engaged artworks. He describes the work of contemporary artists who are creatively reflecting upon the Middle East, the financial crisis, migration, terrorism and social activism.”

Photo Credit: Hydar Dewachi

Istanbul Book Launch: Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East

SALT Galata, Istanbul

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Dissonant Archives launched in Istanbul alongside a panel discussion with contributions from Vahap Avşar, Burak Arikan, Meriç Algün Ringborg and Basak Senova.

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Edited by Anthony Downey and published by IB Tauris, Dissonant Archives is the first book to consider the various ways in which contemporary artists from North Africa and the Middle East utilize and disrupt the function of the archive and, in so doing, highlight a systemic and perhaps irrevocable crisis in institutional and state-ordained archiving across the region.

Often viewed as ordered collections of historical documents that record information about people, places and events, this perception of the archive nevertheless obscures a crucial element: although subject to the vagaries of time and history, the archive is primarily concerned with determining the future. This feature of the archive has gained urgency in modern day North Africa and the Middle East, where it has come to the fore as a precarious and performative site of social, historical, theoretical and political contestation.

In addressing these issues, this volume enquires into a number of imminent questions. How, for one, do we understand the speculative forms of archival knowledge that are being produced in contemporary art practices in North Africa and the Middle East? Do these practices foster a nostalgic fetishization for the archive or suggest an ongoing crisis in institutional and state-ordained archiving? And what, moreover, do artistic practices that engage with archives reveal about the contemporary politics of global cultural production?

London Book Launch: Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East

Rivington Place, London

Thursday, 10 September 2015, 18.00-21.00

The London-based launch was be preceded by a panel discussion with a number of the book’s contributors, including John Akomfrah, Nick Denes, Laura Cugusi, Guy Mannes-Abbott and Zineb Sedira.

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Edited by Anthony Downey and published by IB Tauris, Dissonant Archives is the first book to consider the various ways in which contemporary artists from North Africa and the Middle East utilize and disrupt the function of the archive and, in so doing, highlight a systemic and perhaps irrevocable crisis in institutional and state-ordained archiving across the region.

Often viewed as ordered collections of historical documents that record information about people, places and events, this perception of the archive nevertheless obscures a crucial element: although subject to the vagaries of time and history, the archive is primarily concerned with determining the future. This feature of the archive has gained urgency in modern day North Africa and the Middle East, where it has come to the fore as a precarious and performative site of social, historical, theoretical and political contestation.

In addressing these issues, this volume enquires into a number of imminent questions. How, for one, do we understand the speculative forms of archival knowledge that are being produced in contemporary art practices in North Africa and the Middle East? Do these practices foster a nostalgic fetishization for the archive or suggest an ongoing crisis in institutional and state-ordained archiving? And what, moreover, do artistic practices that engage with archives reveal about the contemporary politics of global cultural production?

 

 

JAOU Tunis 2015: Visual Culture In An Age Of Global Conflict

The National Museum of Bardo, Tunis

28-30 May 2015

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The Kamel Lazaar Foundation staged a two-day conference at the National Museum of Bardo from 28–30 May, 2015. This was the 3rd iteration of the JAOU initiative held there and the first international conference at the Museum since the terrorist attacks on Wednesday, 18 March 2015.

Organized in advance of those attacks, the conference took on an additional pertinence in relation to any investigation into the role that culture performs in the personal, social, public, and political discourses that are unfolding across the region. The indiscriminate attacks have further highlighted the susceptibility of culture in an age of global terror, as have the recent destruction of artifacts in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. The questions that remain demand exploration and considered responses if we are to not only condemn these attacks but also ensure that culture and civil society will prevail in the face of extremism, violence and indiscriminate killing.

JAOU 2015 brought together local and international artists, curators, academics, and cultural practitioners to address these concerns and included, alongside other events, a condition report on visual culture in the Maghreb, an extended series of round table discussions on, respectively, collaborative geographies in an age of global conflict, the future of art institutions in the Middle East, the role of artistic practices in building international relations and local institutions, the use of archives in contemporary art practices, and the historical genealogies that inform performance art in the Middle East.

Here is a link to a video of the presentation of the programme, further information about the details of the event and programme can be found on the Ibraaz site

Images:
1. Roundtable Panel 1
2. Anthony Downey and Sultan Al Qassami
3. Roundtable Panel 2
4. Hiwa K.
5. Payam Sharifi of Slavs and Tatars

Image credit: Ibraaz

Book Launch: Mirrors for Princes: Both Sides of the Tongue, Slavs and Tatars

Art Dubai

Thursday, 19 March 2015, 15.00-16.00

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Payam Sharifi (Slavs and Tatars) in conversation with Anthony Downey, Art Dubai, 19 March, 2015

Published to coincide with the NYUAD Art Gallery presenting a major exhibition of the art collective Slavs and Tatars, Mirrors for Princes: Both Sides of the Tongue will be available as of 19 March. The exhibition will be on view February 28 through May 30, 2015 and is Slavs and Tatars’ most ambitious, immersive installation to date, with new work occupying the entire 650 square meter (7,000-square-foot) exhibition space.

The specially-commissioned book Mirrors for Princes: Both Sides of the Tongue launches on Thursday 19 March 15.00-16.00 at Art Dubai. Published by JRP|Ringier, the book has been commissioned by NYUAD Art Gallery and is edited by Anthony Downey/Ibraaz Publishing. A hybrid of scholarly research and original artworks, Mirrors for Princes: Both Sides of the Tongue features essays specially commissioned on the research topic, as well as an interview with the artists by Downey and Beatrix Ruf.

Art and Politics Now: Renzo Martens in conversation with Anthony Downey

Tate Modern, Starr Auditorium

Monday, 16 March 2015, 18.30 – 20.00

Tate talks in conversation

Tate Modern audience

Tate in Converstation

Why are contemporary artists increasingly engaging with some of the most pressing issues facing our world today, from globalisation, migration and citizenship to conflict, sustainability, gentrification, terrorism and social activism?

Join Anthony Downey, author of Art and Politics Now, and artist Renzo Martens for a conversation addressing the implications of these developments and how they invite us to rethink what we mean by the terms ‘political’, ‘engagement’, and ‘activism’.

Anthony Downey is an academic, editor and writer. Recent and upcoming publications include Art and Politics Now  (Thames and Hudson, 2014); Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2014); and Archival Dissonance: Contemporary Art and Contested Narratives in the Middle East (forthcoming, 2015). He is the Director of Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London, and Editor-in-Chief of Ibraaz, a publishing and research initiative on visual culture in the Middle East. He is currently researching Zones of Indistinction: Performative Ethics and Late Modernity (forthcoming, 2016).

Renzo Martens is an artist living in Brussels. His work Episode III: Enjoy Poverty was exhibited at the 6th Berlin Biennale, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, La Vireinna, Barcelona, Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, and screened at Tate Modern, London and Centre Pompidou, Paris. Currently he works on the Institute for Human Activities and its five-year Gentrification Program in the Congo. The Institute held its opening seminar in the Congolese rainforest, as part of the 7th Berlin Biennial, with presentations at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Wiels, Brussels. He studied Political Science at the University of Nijmegen and art at the Royal Academy of Ghent and the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Martens is the Artistic Director for the Institute of Human Activities (IHA) and was the World Fellow at Yale University, New Haven in 2013.

The evening will be chaired by Elvira Dyangani Ose (Lecturer Department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths College, University of London)

Following the discussion, there will be an opportunity to purchase a copy of Art and Politics Now and have it signed by the author in the Starr Foyer from 20.00–20.20.

This event has been developed in partnership with Thames & Hudson

Images:

Top 3: Event Images, Credit Lauren Mele, 2015

Last image set: Left, Cover of Art and Politics Now (Thames and Hudson, 2014); Right: “Impression of CPWAL Inaugural Meeting, Institute for Human Activities, undisclosed location, DR Congo, video still, 2014 “

Please note that any information sent, received or held by Tate may be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

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