“Freedom in the non-structure” – Saleem Al-Bahloly in conversation with the art historian Nada Shabout
The history of art is often seen through European lenses. How can we switch these lenses without falling into new traps? How can we overcome the traditional (European) master – (Non-European) student-narrative? In which way curating is a form of research?
The art historian Nada Shabout, author of the book “Modern Arab Art: Formation of Arab Aesthetics” (2007), speaks about new methodological questions that emerged within the last ten years, such as the deconstruction of the meta narratives on “center and periphery” and “colonialization and adaption.” Textual and contextual interaction through visual affinities was at the focus of her recent investigation.
Nada Shabout is a Professor of Art History and the Director of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Studies Initiative (CAMCSI) at the University of North Texas. She is the founding president of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA), and was the Consulting Founding Director of Research at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha. She is the author of Modern Arab Art: Formation of Arab Aesthetics, University of Florida Press, 2007; co-editor of New Vision: Arab Art in the 21st Century, Thames & Hudson, 2009; and currently co-editing the forthcoming volume Modern Art of the Arab World: Primary Documents, part of the International Program at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2017. She is the founder and project director of the Modern ArtIraq Archive (MAIA); a member of the editorial committee of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) and member of the International Editorial Advisory Board and subject editor for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism (REM).
Saleem Al-Bahloly is a cultural anthropologist whose work focuses on alternative histories of the artwork. He has an AB in Anthropology from the University of Chicago (2005) and a PhD, also in Anthropology, from the University of California, Berkeley (2015). 2015/2016 he is an affiliated EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien. Currently he is working on a book manuscript based on his dissertation entitled, The Freedom of Despair: Art and Politics in Baghdad, 1963-1979.