Undergraduate Seminar: Middle East Conceptualisms
Wednesday | 9:00 - 12:00pm
This seminar explores art histories of conceptual art——that is, art shifting the locus of consideration from the object to the idea——via the Middle East and the perceptual and material absences that arise from its experience(s) of occupation, war, and the erosion of popular politics. The course pays particularly close attention to work by artists and writers based in Beirut in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil Wars (1975-1990), which attracted wide critical acclaim for its critical questioning of the truth status of documentary objects: Akram Zaatari, the Atlas Group, Jalal Toufic, Walid Sadek, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, and others, as well as Beirut-based artists who pursue other conceptual concerns, such as Marwa Arsanios, Rayyane Tabet, and others. So as to anchor our inquiry in regional as well as global dynamics, we will also study works by preceding conceptualist artists in the region (from 1970s Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran) as well as recent and ongoing projects of institutional critique (Picasso in Palestine, Gulf Labor). We ask: To what extent do the stakes of conceptual practices shift in different historical conjunctures? What kind of knowledge is produced by recourse to artistic strategies of epistemological complication, from the parafictional to re-performance? And, can this work disrupt circuits of value and meaning in the art world at-large?
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (D) and Chronological period (III), based on the topic of the final research paper or project.