The heritage of the nineties forms a key trope for both RB5 and Ashkal Alwan in 2014-15. Kirsten Scheid of the American University of Beirut has conducted extensive research on the institutional memory of the 1990s in and around the cultural landscape of Ramallah, where the focus is customarily on the dramatic impact of the 1993 Oslo Accords. Scheid’s research, and the history of the region at large, suggests that broader factors were equally at play, in ways that are yet to be accounted for.

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. Traction 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.

Kirsten Scheid is an associate professor of anthropology at the American University of Beirut. She earned her BA in Art History from Columbia University and her PhD in Anthropology from Princeton University. She has been working in the happy disjuncture between the fields ever since. Her research and teaching interests are Modern and Contemporary Arab Art, particularly in Lebanon and Palestine, Aesthetics and Affect as alternative sources for ethnography and political study, Art Historiography and Theory, Civilizing Discourses and Cosmopolitanism, Activism, and Elites. She has conducted field and archival research since 1992 in Lebanon and Palestine.