Department Welcomes New Faculty Member Anneka Lenssen
The Department is pleased to welcome Anneka Lenssen as our latest new Assistant Professor, in this case of Global Modern Art. Anneka earned her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program (working with Professor Caroline Jones) and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (working with Professor Nasser Rabat). Even before finishing her PhD, she was hired by the American University in Cairo, where she has been directing their new Visual Cultures Program this academic year. Not surprisingly, Anneka’s time in Cairo (and before that in Lebanon and Syria) has given her unprecedented access to her research materials and an up-front seat at major social transformations: Anneka specializes in modern painting, contemporary visual practices, and cultural politics in the Middle East since the Second World War. Her research examines problems of artistic representation in relation to the globalizing imaginaries of empire, nationalism, communism, decolonization, non-alignment, and Third World humanism. Arising from her MIT doctoral dissertation, her current book project is a study of avant-garde painting and the making of Syria as a contested territory between 1920 and 1970. It traces emerging ideas about artistic form and social activation within new regimes of political representation, from French Mandate rule after the first war to the mass mobilizations of youth-oriented ideological parties to Cold War cultural diplomacy. She teaches courses engaging with modern art and global mass culture, abstraction and aniconism, theories of aesthetic autonomy, translational practices, and historiography. Anneka was previously on the board for the Association of Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) and currently serves on the Editorial Board of ARTMargins. She is also working with colleagues Nada Shabout and Sarah Rogers in co-editing a volume of art writing from the Arab world in translation, tentatively titled Arab Art in the Twentieth Century: Primary Documents, to be published as part of the International Program at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2017. Her reviews and essays have appeared in Artforum, Bidoun, and Springerin, as well as exhibition catalogs for Darat al-Funun in Amman and the Sharjah Biennial.