Public Talk: Akram Zaatari in conversation with Anthony Downey, New Art Exchange, July 14, 2018


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Akram Zaatari, Dance To The End of Love, 2011. (Film stills). © Akram Zaatari


Artist Akram Zaatari will be in conversation at the New Art Exchange, on the 14 July, 2018, with academic, editor, and writer Anthony Downey. Drawing from his research into vernacular photography, Zaatari explores the ways in which individuals experiment with performative narratives that start with studio photography and extend to YouTubing, with a strong focus on how Muslim communities are presenting online counter-narratives to negative depictions in the media.

For further information and to book tickets, see here.

Book Review: Future Imperfect, ed. by Anthony Downey, Third Text, April 2018.


Future Imperfect

Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East (2017) edited by Anthony Downey

Rawan Sharaf Khatib

This volume is an extensive anthology that investigates the history and current politics of cultural institutions and production in the Middle East. It is the latest addition to the series ‘Visual Culture in the Middle East’ published by Ibraaz, and was preceded by Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East (2014) and Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East (2015). The series, which is based on questions raised in Ibraaz’s ‘Platforms for discussion’, attempts to interpret and comprehend how the accelerated regional upheaval, with the social and economic breakdown caused by revolutions, counter-revolutions and civil wars, has echoed in visual and cultural practices in terms of responses to the specific antagonisms, and the developing of alternative structures and models of production while operating in precarious political conditions. And how, simultaneously, cultural production in the region is influenced by the global cultural economy, and perhaps even co-opted, or at least driven by, the politics and parameters of a globalised art market.

For the full review see Third Text online review here.

Catalogue Essay: “Transposing the Vernacular: Moving Images in the Work of Akram Zaatari” , 2018


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“The internet has effected an unprecedented historical instance of accelerated image production that has fundamentally realigned the way we view, understand, and disseminate moving images. This may appear to be a truism of sorts but it is currently estimated that over 400 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Although it is the second most popular website in the world, this still needs to be put into perspective: if we extrapolate, this means that 24,000 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every hour which is the equivalent of over half a million hours of footage being uploaded every day. Although it is the second most popular website in the world, this still needs to be put into perspective: if we extrapolate, this means that 24,000 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every hour which is the equivalent of over half a million hours of footage being uploaded every day.”

To ready the full essay, please click here.

“Transposing the Vernacular: Moving Images in the Work of Akram Zaatari”, is catalogue essay published on the occasion of Akram Zaatari’s touring show, The Script, launched at the New Art Exchange (13 July — 9 September 2018). It toured to Turner Contemporary (19 October 2018 — 6 January 2019), and Modern Art Oxford (23 March — 2 May 2019).

Jury Member, Beirut Art Residency (BAR), Beirut, February 24, 2018

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BAR is a live-work space for artists/collectives looking to develop projects in a stimulating environment. The goal of the program is to facilitate collaboration between international as well as local artists. During their time, residents are encouraged to diverge from their usual practice and experiment with new ideas with the comfort of knowing that they are not expected to produce finished work at the culminating Open Studio event. The BAR team hold weekly meetings with artists to help them locate materials, connect with local art figures and generally find their bearings in this multifaceted city.

The jury for choosing artists for 2019 included Fouad Elkoury, Anthony DowneyZiad AntarSandra Dagher, and Bernard Khoury. For more information, see here.

Symposium: Anthony Downey in conversation with Edmund Clarke, IKON Gallery, Birmingham, February 12, 2018.



This one-day symposium is a collaboration between Ikon, HMP Grendon and Birmingham City University (BCU). It responds to Edmund Clark’s exhibition, In Place of Hate, presented in partnership with Marie-Louise von Motesiczky Charitable Trust, on show at Ikon until 11 March 2018.

Bringing together artists, therapists, critics and criminologists, the symposium will consider how prisoners and the criminal justice system are perceived by the public, politicians and media and the potential for artists to influence these perceptions. Presentations and discussion will address the following: the representation of prison(ers) in the media and discourse about criminal justice; the representation of prison(ers) in art and cinema; the role of art and creative therapies in prison and rehabilitation.

Anthony Downey will be in conversation with Edmund Clarke at 16:00 on the 11 March. For further details, see here.

Talk: “The Future of Image Production in the Middle East”, Nottingham Contemporary, February 13, 2018.


Detail from Héla Ammar, Sidi Bouzid, 2011. Courtesy of artist

February 13, 2018

The Future of Image Production in the Middle East: Critical Practices and Digital Networks
In this workshop, Anthony Downey will address how images circulate within the context of the Middle East today. He will examine how computer generated images are not just  replacing the “real” of events in the region, but determining the means by which history is been represented and archived. A key element here is the extent to which new and social media are being presented as transparent means for political ends in contemporary art practices and how cultural production is made to stand in for political action and social commentary. These processes have given rise to politicized archives and interpretive anxieties about virtual evidence and image-based historiographies, nowhere more so than when social media and digital platforms are being used as evidentiary tools to explain conflict across the Middle East.
For more information click here.

Lecture: “Who Benefits from the Work of Art”, V-A-C Foundation, Moscow, January 20, 2018.




20.01.2018 | 16:00–18:00

Who Benefits from the Work of Art: Political Exceptionalism and the Refugee Condition

A lecture by Anthony Downey

If the disavowal or absence of legal and political representation is a feature of being a refugee in an era of political exceptionalism, then what happens when artistic representation is inserted into this already compromised regime of visibility? In an all too amenable substitution that can often reconfirm the apparent absence of legal accountability, this lecture will suggest that cultural forms of representation are increasingly compensating for — if not replacing — the very systems and procedures of political and legal responsibility that are being denied refugees in the first place? This culturalisation of political debate has, in turn, effected two of the key aims of neoliberalism: the depoliticisation of debate and the de facto co-option of culture so that it ultimately answers to, rather than opposes, political debate.

The conversation will be in English with simultaneous translation into Russian. For further information, see here.