Undergraduate Seminar: Contemporary Art In/Against Global Crisis: Cairo
This seminar takes the city of Cairo, the massive Egyptian capital of some 20 million residents, as a locus for exploring a range of critical artistic practices from the 1970s until the present day, and how these visual experiments shaped (and were shaped by) experiences of large-scale crises stemming from (among other factors), the forced opening of the Egyptian economy to private investment, food and energy shortages, mass incarceration, and displaced populations, as well as key counter-pressures and resistance raised by transnational youth movements, digital image cultures, and feminist critiques. In what ways may artists in Cairo be understood to work in federation or solidarity with artists elsewhere, and in what ways have their concerns and struggles proven distinct? On what terms do artists find success, both in terms of career sustainability and in terms of potentially radical or critical outcomes (with these two outcomes often at odds)? What can studying the formation of art worlds in Cairo over the past five decades tell us about our own media and economic histories? To answer, we will read a range of texts, including translated Arabic manifestos and articles and English-language criticism, as well as art historical, anthropological, and sociological studies of specific artists, galleries, and events. We will examine selected artworks in depth, including works by Mounir Canaan, the Axis Group, Inji Efflatoun, Anna Boghiguian, Hamdi Attia, Amal Kenawy, Basim Magdy, and many others. Finally, we will take the opportunity to visit artworks by Hassan Khan featured in the SFMOMA exhibition “Soft Power.”
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (D) and Chronological period (III).