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Contemporary Art in the Middle East

Symposium at Tate Britain and Tate Modern

22 January 2009, 14:00-18:00, Tate Britain
23 January 2009, 10:00-18:00, Tate Modern

How do we define the Middle East? How does the interpretation of modern and contemporary art from the Middle East and its diaspora affect its understanding at home and abroad? How have ideas about tradition and modernity emerged in art practice? What will be the impact of new and emerging spaces for modern and contemporary art in different parts of the region? This two-day symposium – which begins at Tate Britain and moves to Tate Modern – brings together artists, curators and writers to discuss recent developments in contemporary art from the Middle East and its diaspora.

Taking place over two days with a mix of keynote talks and panel discussions, thesymposium revolves around five discrete sessions:

- Defining the Middle East
- Writing and Translation
- Art Now - Recent Exhibitions
- Tradition and Modernity
- The Politics of Space

Keynote talks will be given by Derek Gregory (professor of geography, University of British Colombia, Vancouver) Mourid Barghouti (poet and author, I Saw Ramallah), Salah Hassan (professor, Art History, Cornell University) and Shumon Basar (curator, architect and author of Cities from Zero).

The distinguished group of panelists includes Anas Al-Shaikh (artist), Oreet Ashery (artist), Negar Azimi (senior editor, Bidoun magazine), Bassam el Baroni (co-founder, Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum) [tbc], Yto Barrada (artist and founder of Cinemathèque de Tangers, Goldsmiths College, London) [tbc], Pat Binder and Gerhard Haupt (editors-in-chief, Nafas Art Magazine and publishers of Universes in Universe), Stuart Comer (curator, Tate Modern), Suzanne Cotter (chief curator, Modern Art Oxford), Catherine David (chief curator, Direction des Musées de France), David Elliot (artistic director, Sydney Biennale), Khalid Khreis (director, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman), Vasif Kortun (curator, director of Platform, Istanbul), Rahraw Omarzad (editor of Gahnama-e-Hunar and founder of the Centre for Contemporary Art, Afghanistan), November Paynter (independent curator), Jack Persekian (artistic director of the Sharjah Biennial and director of the Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art), Khalil Rabah (artist, director of the Riwaq Biennale, Ramallah), Michael Rakowitz (artist), Dina Ramadan (art historian and critic), Andrew Renton (director of curating, Goldsmiths College, London), Zineb Sedira (artist), Nada Shabout (associate professor of Art History, University of North Texas, Denton), Hassan Sharif (artist, co-founder of The Flying House, Dubai), Wael Shawky (artist), Suha Shoman (founder of Darat al Funun, Amman), Issa Touma (artist, curator and founder of Le Pont Art Organization and Gallery, Aleppo, Syria), William Wells (director, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo), Eyal Weizman (director, Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London).

The symposium is organised by Tate and the International Curators Forum in association with Nafas Art Magazine. It is part of the World Collections Programme, a collaborative initiative between six UK organisations which aims to develop greater access to their collections and expertise by building partnerships with organisations in Asia and Africa.


(Press release)

Preview information

Contemporary Art in the Middle East

22 January 2009
Tate Britain

23 January 2009
Tate Modern


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