August 21, 2013

“Shifting Sands” Symposium

Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia

Ali Cherri, Pipe Dreams (installation still), 2012 Photo courtesy the artist and Galerie Imane Farès, Paris.

Presented by The Contemporary Art Centre of SA, Adelaide
In Association with Artspace Visual Arts Centre and Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney

The Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia’s symposium “Shifting Sands” brings to Australia ten prominent international commentators who will present—in both Sydney and Adelaide—various perspectives on art and cultural issues critical to the Middle Eastern/North Africa (MENA) region currently consumed by dramatic change. Engaging developments greater than the ‘Arab Spring’, this meeting of international curators, artists, writers and directors has as its points of reference ‘Politics and culture'; artists and ‘The Revolution'; media, censorship and resistance; ‘cultural exchange’ and The ‘Arab Contemporary’.

While Australia, distanced from such turbulence, has some connectivity with the MENA region through its military and immigration histories over two centuries, its contemporary art arena, if not culture in general (apart from some Indigenous and Asian influences and expressions) remains fundamentally focused upon the Euro-American canon, happily supported by a long-established infrastructural platform of government funding and public patronage. Given the current dynamic of regional and national turmoil, many art practices from the MENA region have as their catalyst multiple layers of historical and contemporary socio-political concerns that on the surface, and from physically removed perspectives (such as Australia), would seem to deny or arrest the pursuit of art making. Nonetheless, MENA artists continue to make art and organisations continue to present them both, to international recognition and acclaim.

The speakers are Basak Senova, curator and designer based in Ankara, and curator of the Pavilion of Turkey at the 53rd Venice Biennale (Turkey); Eyad Houssami, Beirut-based theatre director, writer, researcher and editor Doomed by Hope: Essays on Arab Theatre (Pluto Press and Dar Al Adab, 2012) (Syria/Lebanon); Sheyma Buali, independent writer and researcher based in London (UK/Bahrain); Diana Abouali, head of research and collections, Palestinian Museum in Ramallah (Palestine); Ali Cherri, Beirut-based visual artist and designer working with video, installation, performance, multimedia (Lebanon); Nat Muller, independent curator and critic based in Rotterdam whose focus is the intersections of aesthetics, media and politics, media art and contemporary art in and from the Middle East (Netherlands); Ala Younis, artist and curator based in Amman (Jordan); Lara Baladi, Cairo-based Egyptian-Lebanese artist (Egypt); Aaron Cezar, founding Director of Delfina Foundation, London; and Ania Szremski, chief curator at the Townhouse, Cairo (Egypt).

“Shifting Sands,” conceived by CACSA Executive Director Alan Cruickshank after four years of research in the region, has been assisted by the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council, and the Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR), Department for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Canberra, and is presented in conjunction with Artspace Visual Arts Centre and Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney.

Symposium organizing host contacts:

Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia
14 Porter Street
Parkside, Adelaide SA 5063

T +618 82722682

Executive Director, Alan Cruickshank
[email protected]

Administrator, Matt Huppatz
[email protected]

Curator, Logan Macdonald
[email protected]

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