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Bissan Bookshop, Beirut. Photo: NML
 

BEIRUT: ART AND POLITICS
Spring 2016
Eugene Lang, The New School

The course focused on the film and visual art from Beirut. The syllabus assumed that artists from the Lebanese context have fundamentally changed the way traumatic memory is represented, and thus also altered the relationship between contemporary urban warfare and its representation.

After a month spent exclusively on the history of the Lebanese civil war, the course moved on to address the legacy of war: the absence of established histories and a complex relationship to memorialization, and to the problems of representing violence, trauma, stateless-ness, and exile.

The course drew on war journalism and historical analysis, post-colonial theory, contemporary film theory, and writing by artists and critics. Artists whose work we watched include established artists such as Walid Raad (specifically his Spring 2016 retrospective at MoMA), Akraam Zaatari, Rabih Mroué, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Lamia Joreige, and Ghassan Salhab; we will also look at the work of a younger generation of artists, including Roy Samaha, Ali Cherri, Lara Tabet, Rania Stephan, Randa Mirza, and others.


EXCERPTED SYLLABUS
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Cathy Caruth, Trauma: Explorations in Memory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995)
T. J. Demos, “Zones of Conflict,” in in The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013), 169 – 175
T. J. Demos, “ Out of Beirut: Mobile Histories and the Politics of Fiction,” in The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013), 177 – 200
Souheil Bachar and Walid Raad, “Civilizationally, We Do Not Dig Holes to Bury Ourselves,” in Tamáss: Contemporary Arab Representations : Beirut/lebanon 1 (Barcelona: Funació Antoni Tapies, 2002), 123 – 136
Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon (New York: Atheneum, 1990)
Lina Khateb, Lebanese Cinema: Imagining the Civil War and Beyond (London: I.B. Tauris, 2008)
Sarah Rogers, “Daoud Corm, Cosmopolitan Nationalism, and the Origins of Lebanese Modern Art,” The Arab Studies Journal, Vol. 18, No. 1, VISUAL ARTS AND ART PRACTICES IN THE MIDDLE EAST (Spring 2010), pp. 46-77
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, “A Damaged Painting, A Shard of Glass: Discovering Saloua Raouda Choucair,” Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context, and Enquiry, Issue 32 (Spring 2013), pp. 42-53
Ann Coxen, “The Potentiality of a Thing: Saloua Raouda Choucair’s Modular Sculpture,” in Saloua Raouda Choucair (London: Tate Publishing, 2013), 119 – 133
Walid Sadek, “Place at Last,” Art Journal, Vol. 66, No. 2 (Summer, 2007), pp. 34-47
Sarah Rogers, “Out of History: Postwar Art in Beirut,” Art Journal, Vol. 66, No. 2 (Summer, 2007), pp. 8-20
Bilal Khabeiz and Walid Sadek, “Indolence,” and “Kindness Shunned,” in Tamáss: Contemporary Arab Representations : Beirut/lebanon 1 (Barcelona: Funació Antoni Tapies, 2002)
Tony Chakar, “To Speak Shadow,” Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context, and Enquiry, Issue 35 (Spring 2014), pp. 18-29
Walid Sadek, “From Excavation to Dispersion: Configurations of Installation Art in Post-War Lebanon,” in Tamáss: Contemporary Arab Representations : Beirut/lebanon 1 (Barcelona: Funació Antoni Tapies, 2002), 67- 81
Akram Zaatari, Earth of Endless Secrets (Frankfurt am Main: Portikus, 2009)
Rabih Mroué, “The Fabrication of Truth,” in XXXX, Tamáss: Contemporary Arab Representations : Beirut/lebanon 1 (Barcelona: Funació Antoni Tapies, 2002), 114 – 117
Nat Muller, “Performing the Undead: Life and Death in Social Media and Contemporary Art,” in Anthony Downey, ed., Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East (London: IB Tauris, 2014), 86 – 94
Elias Khoury and Rabih Mroué, “Three Posters,” in Tamáss: Contemporary Arab Representations : Beirut/lebanon 1 (Barcelona: Funació Antoni Tapies, 2002), 102 – 113
Simon Harvey, “Smuggling Practices into the Image of Beirut,” in Suzanne Cotter, ed., Out of Beirut (Oxford: Modern Art Oxford, 2006), 36- 40
Suzanne Cotter, “Stranger Than Fiction,” in Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige (Zurich: JRP/Ringier, 2013), 49 – 56
Hadjithomas and Joreige, “A Conversation with Dominique Abensour, Etel Adnan, Rabig Mroué, Jacques Rancière, Michèle Thériault, Jalal Toufic, and Anton Vidokle,” in Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige (Zurich: JRP/Ringier, 2013), 97 -111
Sandra Dagher, Catherine David, Rasha Salti, Christine Tohme and T. J. Demos, “Curating Beirut: A Conversation on the Politics of Representation,” Art Journal, Vol. 66, No. 2 (Summer, 2007), pp. 98-119
Rasha Salti, “Beirut Diary: April 2005,” Middle East Report, No. 236 (Fall, 2005), pp. 22-27
Paolo Yacoub and Michel Lassere, “A Brief Journey Towards Scepticism,” in Suzanne Cotter, ed., Out of Beirut (Oxford: Modern Art Oxford, 2006), 9 – 10
Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, “The War Works: Videos under Siege, Online and in the Aftermath, Again,” Art Journal, Vol. 66, No. 2 (Summer, 2007), pp. 68-82
Laura U. Marks, “Arab Glitch,” in Anthony Downey, ed., Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East (London: IB Tauris, 2014), 257 – 271
Hamid Dabashi, “Trauma, Memory, and History,” in Hamid Keshmirshekan, ed., Contemporary Art from the Middle East: Regional Interactions with Global Art Discourses (London: IB Tauris, 2015), 17 -34