Middle East

Incommensurability and Untranslatability

The move to diversify art historical narratives is often accompanied by a search for commonalities. Instead addressing a need to acknowledge radical difference and untranslatability, each presenter in this panel approached the question of the incommensurable, interrogating tensions between a global approach and site-specific study.

Documenting Migration in Contemporary Art: Bouchra Khalili’s The Mapping Journey Project

How to raise awareness of the most recent refugee crisis in the Mediterranean in a way that does not spectacularize human suffering? Beginning with Bouchra Khalili’sThe Mapping Journey Project, this essay addresses how the present crisis has manifested as image and has made its way, across a variety of methodological and ethical approaches, into works of…

Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents – Art and Arab Life, a Questionnaire

“Where do our arts stand with regard to the consciousness that is blossoming in the Arab nation?” This question was posed in 1956 in a questionnaire on “Art and Arab Life” that was circulated to artists in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, and Syria in a special issue devoted to the arts of the Arab world of the Beirut-based, pan-Arab journal al-Adab, which was established in 1953 as an outlet for politically engaged thought and cultural analysis.

Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents – On the Concept of Painting and the Plastic Language

In Morocco in the mid-1960s, the National School of Fine Arts in Casablanca offered a new cohort of avant-garde thinkers—including artists Farid Belkahia, Mohammed Chebaa, and Mohammed Melehi—a platform for developing new models of decolonized, integrated artistic practice. Such an agenda is set forth in this position statement written by Chebaa on the occasion of the three-person Belkahia, Chebaa, and Melehi exhibition at the Mohammed V Theatre gallery in Rabat.

Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents – Visitors’ impressions of the 1933 Palestine Pavilion at the First National Arab Fair

The texts below are entries taken from the 1933 guest book from the first solo exhibition of the work of Zulfa al-Sa‘di (1905–1988), a young Palestinian female artist, held in the Palestine Pavilion at the First National Arab Fair, organized in Jerusalem under the auspices of the Supreme Muslim Council.

“We Painted the Crystal, We Thought About the Crystal”—The Crystalist Manifesto (Khartoum, 1976) in Context

Thoroughly committed to novelty, invention, and atomic and space-age practices, the Crystalist group proposed completely new directions for art in Sudan in the 1970s. Their manifesto published in a Khartoum newspaper within the artistic context of the time introduces the Crystalist themes of transparency and dualism.

Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents – The Crystalist Manifesto

The publication, Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (2018), edited by Anneka Lenssen, Sarah Rogers, and Nada Shabout, offers an unprecedented resource for the study of modernism: a compendium of critical art writings by twentieth-century Arab intellectuals and artists. The selection of texts—many of which appear for the first time in English—includes manifestos, essays, transcripts of roundtable discussions, diary entries, letters, and the guest-book comments including those featured here.

The History That Did Not Come to Pass: Naeem Mohaiemen in Conversation with Sarah Lookofsky

MoMA’s C-MAP research program developed an extended focus on historical alliances such as Bandung, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), pan-Africanism, pan-Arabism, and other south-south, east-east, and Third World nexuses. This conversation addresses such pasts, and their reverberations in the present, as they appear in Mohaiemen’s media-based practice.