A three-day conference titled, "Art Schools: Histories and Trajectories," by Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies (DI) wrapped up shedding light on the histories and trajectories of art schools.
The conference particularly focused on fine arts institutions as well as the marginal avant-garde groups that emerged in response to the multiple developments in art theories and innovative artistic practices around the globe.
From the conferences
The first day of the conference took place at Mathaf Library in Education City – Qatar Foundation, and continued for two days at the DI Amphitheatre.
The conference opened with Ebrahim Alkazi, an autodidact and creator of Para-Academic Spaces in 1950s Mumbai, and Ranjit Hoskote, a poet, cultural theorist and curator based in India, as keynote speakers.
The session was moderated by Brian Edwards, dean of Tulane University, New Orleans.
The first session was titled, "Changing Art Schools: A comparative institutional perspective" and shed light on various case studies from Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon and Tunisia.
Speakers included Tina Barouti, a PhD candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at Boston University; Rawan Sharaf, art director, curator and researcher; M K Harb, an anthropologist and writer; and Hela Hedhili, an assistant professor of Fine Arts at the University of Sousse.
The session was moderated by Issam Nassar, professor at Illinois State University and DI.
The second session was titled "Building Institutions: Experiences, Critiques and Lessons" and moderated by Mohamed al-Baloshi, a consultant at the Ministry of Culture and Sports in Qatar.
Speakers included Housni Alkhateeb Shehada, a researcher and curator; Gerogia Kotretsos, an artist and researcher based in Greece; Hamad al-Mulla, a researcher at DI; and Fabrice Hyber an artist based in France.
Abdellah Karroum, director of Mathaf, said: “We are pleased to host the second annual conference in collaboration with our colleagues at DI for Graduate Studies. This edition examines the varying historical and institutional formations of art schools, and the emergence of movements around new and disruptive ideas.
“These experiences have shaped the fine arts field in their respective regions and continue to be important case studies for the modern questions we face today.
This year’s conference is also an opportunity to discuss the circulation of knowledge and ways of connecting the faculty research and museum practice.”
Dr Ismail Nashif, professor of sociology and anthropology at the DI for Graduate Studies, said: "The radical transformations in Arab societies in the last decade necessitate that we think about artistic expressions and how to deal with art in its broadest sense – particularly its role in these transformations.
“Hence, we need to shed light on artistic schools and the pioneering and marginal groups that formed their antithesis in the modernist era.
“We also need to ask ourselves: how can art be taught today after the transformations that have swept Arab societies? Is the structural relationship between the centre and the marginal, institutional and avant-garde still generating capacity at present in our societies? What about artistic community productions?”
The second day of the conference opened with a keynote lecture titled "Art Institutions in Modern Iran: Reflecting or Resisting Avant-gardism" delivered by Hamid Keshmirshekan, senior teaching fellow at the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS and senior research associate at Khalili Research Centre at Oxford University.
The lecture was moderated by Housni Alkhateeb Shehada, head of the Department of Visual Art at the Levinsky College of Education and senior lecturer at the Bezalel Azademy of Art and Design in Jerusalem.
The first session of the day one was titled "Ways of Teaching: Schools, Movements, Styles" and moderated by Driss Ksikes, director of Economia.
Speakers included Mohamed Jabali, artist and author; Catherine Fraixe, professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at the Ecole Nationale Superieur d’Art de Bourges; Sirine Abdelhedi, councillor for Africa and the Middle East within the International Soceity for Education through Art (InSEA); and Sabih Ahmed, curator and researcher.
The second session was titled "Center/Periphery: Deconstructing Binaries in Art Schools and Movements" and moderated by Sharaf.
Speakers included Dounia Bengassem, professor emeritus of Linguistics at the Hassan II University; Joshua D Gonsalves, associate professor at the English Department, American University in Beirut; Faten Nastas Mitwasi, artist; and Jumanah Abbas, architect.
The third day was opened with a keynote lecture titled "Organic Connectors: Art Dynamics, New 'Intellectuals' and Schools of Thought in Morocco”, delivered by Ksikes and moderated by Fraixe.
The first session was titled “Interdisciplinary Art Teaching and Practices” and moderated by Gonsalves.
Speakers included Ozioma Onuzulike, professor of Ceramic Art and African Art/Design at the department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria; Ahmed Mjidou, professor of Art History and History of Civilisations at the National Institute of Fine Arts in Tetouan; and Nassar.
"Developed as part of an ongoing dialogue between Mathaf and DI, the conference aims to open venues of discussion to a wide range of professionals, practitioners and thinkers," a press statement notes."Mathaf sees itself as a place for debate and a platform for reading and sharing art histories, as well as enabling the community to experience iconic art movements."