Public Talk | The Artist as Quarry, Creep, or Best Case Scenario with Tirdad Zolghadr Monday, January 16 | 8PM

A brief and selective genealogy, beginning with the Louvre.

Artists are forever falling prey to censorship, institutions, bad lighting, jet lag, curators, Americans, and The Market. Never are they complicit when it comes to any of these many travails. Using a small number of case studies, ranging from the docufictional maverick to the artist-as-curator, this lecture will discuss subtle narratives that allow the artist to disidentify with power. Narratives of the kind do serve some artists well individually, even if they serve to marginalize the profession-at-large in the longer term. Ultimately, the lecture aims for possibilities of a more meaningful professional identity, one which offers a more tangible and sustainable sense of political traction.

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Closed Seminar | The Artist as Quarry, Creep, or Best Case Scenario with Tirdad Zolghadr

In Zolghadr’s seminar, the issue of self-marginalization among artists – as proposed during the lecture “The Artist as Quarry, Creep, or Best Case Scenario” – will be discussed with regards to educational settings. How are specific professional identities fostered, often unwittingly, in latter-day art-pedagogy of both the formal and informal variety. Required reading will be Suhail Malik’s “Vindicating Didacticism”, a lecture held at Ashkal Alwan, as part of the 5th Riwaq Biennale’s contribution to the Home Works School program, November 2014.

Tirdad Zolghadr is a curator and writer. His most recent book is Traction, Sternberg Press 2016. Zolghadr is artistic director of the Summer Academy Paul Klee in Bern and associate curator at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. He teaches at the Dutch Art Institute in Arnhem.

Closed Seminar | The Artist as Material History with Walid Sadek

Difficult to ascertain if the past rarely erupts in the perceived present of a linear history or if does so frequently. Perhaps it is moot question for when attentive to at least one of its eruption, it is enough to disrupt the linear organization of time, dislodge the present as the front seat of a convenient coming future and instead weighs the present with a consciousness for all of what remains interminable in the past. In these two seminar sessions, we will look at the impact of two disruptive, possibly eruptive, events on the lives and works of painter Mustafa Farroukh and sculptor Youssef Howayek: Events that denuded them, albeit in dissimilar ways, of their artist-mantel and forcibly fed them into the pugmill of material history. Threatened with the dismemberment of their art by history, these two artists toiled to maintain themselves and their works afoot on the path of an authorial trajectory but eventually came to recognize that they had become posthumous long before their physical death. But in falling into the material of history, even if at an exorbitant personal cost, their works gained an ambulant waywardness, in itself a potential for erupting within the times of history but outside the various categories of culture.

Walid Sadek is an artist and writer living in Beirut. His early work investigates the familial legacies of the Lebanese civil war. He later began to posit, mostly in theoretical texts, ways of understanding the complexity of lingering civil strife in times of relative social and economic stability. His later written work proposes a theory for a post-war society disinclined to resume normative living. More recently, his artworks and written texts seek a poetics for a sociality governed by the logic of protracted war and search for eruptive temporalities to challenge that same protractedness. He is associate professor in the department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut.

Closed Seminar | Collectivity in Practice with Kristine Khouri

In the recent past, artists in the Arab world have organized together around different concerns including artists’ rights, an “Arab” identity, and shared political and ideological concerns. The first seminar will focus on case studies of some of these practices prevalent in 1970s by looking at the establishment of artist unions (i.e. Union of Arab Artists), artist associations, and other manifestations of artist-run and led initiatives. The seminar seeks to not only look at the past but to imagine about what structures can be recuperated and/or reclaimed in within today’s contemporary art and political infrastructures.

Closed Seminar | The Artist as Archive with Kristine Khouri

Beginning with the case study of the research project on the International Art Exhibition for Palestine (in collaboration with Rasha Salti), the seminar will focus on methodological questions as well as how oral histories and archival research are interrogated and activated. What are the challenges and possibilities in preserving artists’ practices and memories? Looking at the processes of transformation of research and documentation into exhibition and other formats, the seminar will attempt to interrogate the different ways in which knowledge is produced when artists are actors and/or subjects of historical research.

Kristine Khouri is an independent researcher and writer based in Beirut, Lebanon. Khouri’s research interests focus on the history of arts circulation and infrastructure in the Arab world. She curated The Founding Years (1969 - 1973): A Selection of Works from the Sultan Gallery Archives (2012) at the Sultan Gallery, Kuwait.

She co-founded, with Rasha Salti, the History of Arab Modernities in the Visual Arts Study Group, a research platform focused around the social history of art in the Arab world. Their current project is focused on the history of the International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine. This research was transformed into an exhibition, Past Disquiet: Narratives and Ghosts from the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978, which first was exhibited at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) (2015), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Berlin, in spring 2015, and will continue to tour in 2017.