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Arab Art Histories, The Khalid Shoman Collection

Extensive publication bringing together multiple voices to reflect on the Khalid Shoman Collection and its role in narrating a regional art history.
Feb 2014

Begun in the early eighties, the Khalid Shoman Collection is one of the earliest collections dedicated exclusively to contemporary art of the Arab world. Now representing over one hundred and forty modern and contemporary artists and a wide range of media, including works on paper, oil on canvas, photography, artist books, sculpture, video, and installation, the collection reflects the shifts and transformations in the region’s artistic practices over the last four decades.

This extensive publication brings together the voices of artists, architects, curators, art critics, and scholars to reflect on the Khalid Shoman Collection and its potential role in narrating a regional art history. The book is divided into three interwoven parts. In the first part, scholars from different disciplines examine a range of art historical concerns through art works from the collection: the body; the historical relationship between photography and painting; modern art’s relevance to the contemporary artist; the relationship between sociopolitical upheaval and the emergence of new media art; art’s sociopolitical relevance to the public; and the possibility of writing the history of modern Arab art from outside conventional genealogies of modernism.

The publication’s second part features writings from artists, curators, critics, and scholars who have lived the history of Darat al Funun. By sharing their memories and experiences, they provide an intimate glimpse into Darat al Funun.

Interspersed throughout the essays and personal reflections are the objects that animate these histories: the works that form The Khalid Shoman Collection. Integral to the textual narratives, the paintings, sculptures, photographs, video stills, and installation views also stand independently. Telling their own stories, the visual gives voice to multiple histories—of form, of aesthetics, of an artist, of a region, and of a collection. Through its form and content, “Arab Art Histories: The Khalid Shoman Collection,” is suggestive of these intersecting narratives.
By bringing together this diverse consideration of the Khalid Shoman Collection, the publication reveals not only the captivating story of a historically unique endeavor, but also considers the timely question of what a regional art history might mean within today’s globalized art world.

Table of Contents


1. Histories in the Making: The Khalid Shoman Collection and Darat al Funun
Sarah Rogers
2. The Peculiarities of Arab Modernity Faisal Darraj
3. Distances greater than between these walls: On ideals and the constitution of an audience Anneka Lenssen
4. Between the Promise of Life and Its Fragility: The Arab Body in The Khalid Shoman Collection Kirsten Scheid
5. Art outside the History of Art Saleem Al-Bahloly
6. Transitions and Translations Ulrich Loock
7. Before Painting: Nicola Saig, Painting, and Photographic Seeing Stephen Sheehi
8. The case against continuity, or is it possible to be enchanted? Hassan Khan
9. The Peculiarities of Arab Modernity Faisal Darraj (text in Arabic)


1. Our Journey Through Time Suha Shoman
2. invisible threads Emily Jacir
3. Rejuvenating Amman’s Core Mohammad al-Asad
4. Code pink, or ideas from a blue house Oraib Toukan
5. Passage Rachid Koraïchi (text in French)
6. From a Mirage to a Home Nada Shabout
7. Away … from the Butterfly of my Dreams Sheena Wagstaff
8. Seeds of Growth: the Sakakini Cultural Centre and Darat al Funun Adila Laïdi-Hanieh
9. For Darat al Funun Andrée Sfeir-Semler
10. Why We Are Remembered Sama Alshaibi
11. When Will My Story Be Told? Samar Dudin
12. Moments in Darat al Funun 1993-1998 Rajwa Bint Ali
13. Darat al Funun, Suha, and I Samia Halaby
14. From a Bond of Friendship to a Link in Art Wijdan F. Al Hashemi
15. The Excavation Pierre Bikai
16. A Touch of Magic - A Constant Inspiration Tania Tamari Nasir
17. A Work of Beauty Mamdouh Bisharat
18. My Amman Annemarie Jacir
19. Tracing Time Raed Ibrahim
20. A Thought Ziad Dalloul (text in Arabic)
21. Darat al Funun: A Real Place Defending Our Freedom Adnan Yahya (text in Arabic)
22. An Oasis of Contemporary Arab Art Rafa’ al Nasiri (text in Arabic)
23. The Long Stone Stairs Ali Kaaf (text in Arabic)
24. A Moment Before You Close Your Eyes Ibrahim Rashid (text in Arabic)
25. From the Daily Journal of The Friend Painting…To Suha Marwan Kassab Bachi (text in Arabic)
26. Darat al Funun: Memories of the Place and its People Khaled Khreis (text in Arabic)
27. Beyond 100 Centigrade Maha Mustafa (text in Arabic)
28. Would Art Permit its Critique and Criticism? Ahlam Shibli (text in Arabic)
29. A Window to Arab Arts May Muzafar (text in Arabic)
30. Darat al Funun: Arabic Cultural Pulse in the Heart of Amman (Al Rai Newspaper, 26/09/1993) Mona Saudi (text in Arabic)
31. Our Journey Through Time Suha Shoman (text in Arabic)

Selection of Works from The Khalid Shoman Collection

(From press information)

Arab Art Histories
The Khalid Shoman Collection

Published by The Khalid Shoman Foundation
Edited by Sarah Rogers and Eline van der Vlist
Designed by Hans Gremmen

464 p, ills colour & bw
21 X 28 cm, pb, Arab/English

ISBN 9789082148404

Worldwide distributor:
Idea Books, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Darat al Funun

13 Nadeem al Mallah St.
Jabal al Weibdeh

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Related Content:

Interview with Suha Shoman, Founder and Chair of the Khalid Shoman Foundation and of Darat al Funun.
Artists from the Arab world, Africa, Asia, Latin America. Darat al Funun, 2013/2014. Curator: Adriano Pedrosa. Photo tour, including all the 29 artists.
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