Classrooms and Capital

A workshop exploring the promises and vagaries of informal art education post-1990s, including the RB5 Nadi and the Ashkal Alwan HWP as case studies with theorist Suhail Malik, Christine Tohme, Tirdad Zolghadr & guests.

This workshop is part of Traction 2: Workshopping the Riwaq Biennale, a seminar by Resident Professor Khalil Rabah, taking place from November 17 – 21, 2014 at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. The seminar is presented as part of Rabah's workshop for HWP 2014-15: Setups / Situations / Institutions.

Traction 2 doubles as the 5th Riwaq Biennale’s (RB5) contribution to Home Workspace Program (HWP) 2014-15 at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. As a whole, it will reflect all the key components of RB5. The seminar begins with an introduction to the biennale program and the Riwaq agenda, and features extensive tours of sites that were pivotal to the Palestinian experience in and around Beirut. In an exploration of HWP and the RB5 educational program NADI, Traction 2 also addresses the promises and pitfalls of informal art education over recent decades. Finally, the seminar ends with a transregional investigation of the institutional memory of contemporary art since the 1990s.

The seminar forms the second part of the RB5 public program, Traction, which is structured as a long series of responses to institutions and events throughout Palestine and its immediate neighborhood. It aims to push the biennale to be thinking “through” the structures of contemporary art, as opposed to thinking “about” or “against” them. In this spirit of chronic infiltrations and slow tenacity, RB5 will span a full two years, which may allow this brief visit to Lebanon to become a lasting contribution to a longer, accumulative conversation.


raction 2
is not only an infiltration of HWP in Beirut, where RB artistic director Khalil Rabah is one of the year’s resident professors, but an opportunity to enrich and indeed infiltrate the RB5 agenda in and of itself.

Traction is a programme proposed and organized by the 5th Riwaq Biennale in Palestine.

Traction 2 is an event produced and organized by the Homeworks Program Ashkal Alwan and the 5th Riwaq Biennale in Palestine.

The seminar is open to the public. Some events have limited capacity and require registration.

Suhail Malik is 2012-15 Visiting Faculty at CCS Bard, New York, and Programme Co-Director of the MFA Fine Art, Goldsmiths, London, where he holds a Readership in Critical Studies. Malik writes on political economy, theory, and art’s axioms.

Christine Tohme is an independent curator and founder/director of Ashkal Alwan – The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts. Since its founding in 1994, the association has committed itself to production, research and circulation in contemporary artistic and intellectual practices. In 2011, the organization opened a 2,000m² multidisciplinary space aimed at providing an educational hub for the region. Ashkal Alwan’s platforms include: Home Works, a forum on cultural practices; Home Workspace Program (HWP), a free annual arts study program; Video Works, a support program for video production in Lebanon; artist residencies in Lebanon and abroad; a multimedia library and archive of local cultural practices; publishing critical, artistic and literary works; curated projects; production facilities and grants; and public programming and workshops.

Tirdad Zolghadr is a curator and writer, currently affiliated with Al Quds Bard College and the International Academy of Art Palestine in Ramallah. His writing includes novels, essays and criticism. The working title of his third novel is “Headbanger”. Curatorial work includes a large number of discreet durational projects and several biennial settings. Zolghadr is currently the curator of the 5th Riwaq Biennale.