Spring 2014
An Evening With...
Lecture Series & Events

Abstracts & Bios


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Scott Redford

Professor, Department of Archaeology and History of Art
Koç University, Istanbul

Mamalik and Mamalik:
The Citadel between Ayyubids and Seljuks in the Early 13th Century

Abstract

Scott Redford is a professor in the department of Archaeology and Art History and Director of the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations, Koç University, Istanbul. His fourth book, Legends of Authority: The 1215 Seljuk Inscriptions of Sinop Citadel, Turkey will be published later this month by Koç University Press. This year, he is an Aga Khan fellow at Harvard University where he is spending his sabbatical researching and writing on the excavations of the Armenian/Crusader/Mamluk levels at the site of Kinet Höyük in southern Turkey in particular, and the archaeology of the northern Crusader states of the Outremer in general.

Bio

Masood Khan runs a consulting practice based in Massachusetts and has worked on historic buildings, settlements and cities for over 25 years. He studied history theory and criticism of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and earlier graduated in architecture at the National College of Arts, Lahore. He works as a senior urban planner and architect with the Historic Cities Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and has led the project for the Lahore Walled City for the Trust for six years. He has also prepared planning and conservation frameworks for Masyaf in Syria and Khorog in Tajikistan. These projects contained significant community participation and development components. His adaptive re-use and settlement conservation work in the northern mountains of Pakistan has won several UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage awards, including the highest award for the Shigar Fort Residence project.
Masood Khan was visiting faculty until 1994 at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT and Harvard, and earlier in his career taught at the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan.



Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath

Founders of Art Reoriented
New York & Munich

Tea with Nefertiti: or How the Arts Shape Culture

Abstract

Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, the co-founders Art Reoriented, a multidisciplinary curatorial platform based in Munich and New York since 2009, talk about their critically acclaimed exhibition Tea with Nefertiti: the making of an artwork by the artist, the museum and the public.

Through discussing the curatorial premise and methodology behind the show, they highlight the ways through which an artwork acquires different meanings and agencies when it travels through time and place. Through employing the Nefertiti bust as a metaphorical thread, and by interrogating the contested history of Egyptian Museum collections from the 19th century onwards, Bardaouil and Fellrath will explore how an artwork can become a tool for the writing of much-contested narratives that serve as frameworks through which an image of another culture can be imagined and consequently fixedTea with Nefertiti will be on view from May 6, 2014 at the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst in Munich after a successful run Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris and Institut Valencià d'Art Modern (IVAM) in Valencia.

Bios

About the curators

www.artreoriented.com
info@artreoriented.com

Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath are the co-founders of Art Reoriented, a multidisciplinary curatorial platform based in Munich and New York. Integral to Bardaouil and Fellrath’s practice is the critique of conventional art-historical classifications and the interrogation of the traditional mechanisms by which contemporary art is understood and presented. Through their work, they excavate art historical materials, with specific interest in multiple modernities, for the purpose of questioning the way artists and artworks have been appropriated by diverse narratives and modes of representation.

Their recent museum exhibitions include: ItaliaArabia (2008), the traveling exhibition Iran Inside Out (2009 – 2010) and the inaugural exhibition Told Untold Retold (2010 – 2011) for Mathaf: the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha / Qatar.
Their critically acclaimed traveling exhibition Tea with Nefertiti (2012 – 2014) is the first contemporary art exhibition to travel internationally from a Museum in the Arab world. In 2013, Bardaouil and Fellrath were the curators of the Lebanese Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale. Their exhibition Mona Hatoum: Turbulence, a comprehensive survey show including more than 70 works spanning three decades of the artist’s oeuvre will be on view at Mathaf from February 7 until May 18, 2014. Currently, they are preparing 1967 – Lee Nan Young and Oum Kulthoum: The Imagined Encounter, a thematic exhibition for the Gwangju Museum of Art in South Korea opening in May 2014.

Bardaouil and Fellrath serve on several selection and nomination committees, including the Jameel Prize at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Aga Khan Award for Architecture at the Aga Khan Foundation in Geneva, the Abraaj Group Art Prize at Art Dubai, the Dar Al-Ma’mûn Residency in Marrakesh and the Boghossian Foundation Prize for Young Lebanese Artists at the Boghossian Foundation in Brussels. They have held teaching positions at the London School of Economics, the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and the American University of Beirut among other institutions.

Their research projects include collaborations with numerous cultural and academic institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art  (INHA) in Paris. They have published in various academic journals including DadaSur: The International Journal on Surrealism, Qantara, and The International Journal of Humanities. Bardaouil and Fellrath are regular contributors to international art publications such as Flash Art and Canvas.
They are currently working on a comprehensive monograph for leading Lebanese modernist artist Paul Guiragossian. Their new book Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring: Conversations with Artists from the Arab World is published by SKIRA and will be released in 2014.   



Masood Khan
Heritage Consultant

Understanding the Urban Heritage:
The Cultural Wire-Scape of Historic Lahore

Abstract

South Asia’s rich architectural heritage continues to defy several forces that militate against its continued existence: the tumultuous history of the region, climate not very conducive to durable architecture and the less than adequate capacities of state institutions established during colonial rule to protect heritage. Yet the historic urban fabric that provides the ubiquitous monumental heritage its living context is fast withering away against an unending tide of societal neglect. In this context, agencies that arrive with the conviction that this urban heritage must play a role in economic and social development  struggle with several obstacles—cultural disjuncture, institutional failures, the long term impact of historical trauma, the nexus of social and political forces affecting urban micro-economics, dated and simplistic notions of heritage and its preservation—in working to secure traditional historic places against the externalities of an under- or unregulated environment. In Lahore where even keeping up with the need to have people housed and provided with descent urban amenities is an uphill struggle, efforts to make the urban heritage play a role in social development must address the built environment on numerous fronts, some of them using methods quite new on the local scene. While these efforts must address issues of the place of the historic urban core in its larger territorial setting, deal with institutional inadequacies, and provide technical knowhow for the preservation of the monumental architecture, getting to grips with the surviving residential neighborhoods and advancing the idea of participatory urban conservation has yielded some results that await replication on a larger scale.

Bio

Masood Khan runs a consulting practice based in Massachusetts and has worked on historic buildings, settlements and cities for over 25 years. He studied history theory and criticism of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and earlier graduated in architecture at the National College of Arts, Lahore. He works as a senior urban planner and architect with the Historic Cities Programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, and has led the project for the Lahore Walled City for the Trust for six years. He has also prepared planning and conservation frameworks for Masyaf in Syria and Khorog in Tajikistan. These projects contained significant community participation and development components. His adaptive re-use and settlement conservation work in the northern mountains of Pakistan has won several UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage awards, including the highest award for the Shigar Fort Residence project.
Masood Khan was visiting faculty until 1994 at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT and Harvard, and earlier in his career taught at the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan.



Elodie Vigouroux

AKPIA@MIT Post-Doctoral Fellow

Around the Umayyad Mosque of Damascus:
New Data on the Role of Markets in the “Islamic City” of the Middle Ages

Abstract

This lecture will explore the results of a new research on the history of Damascus markets during the Middle Ages with particular attention to the surrounding souks of the Umayyad Mosque. Breaking for good with the long lasting vision of a static and hierarchical organization of the markets around the congregational mosque in the “Islamic city”, it will examine the changes that occurred in their display between the 12th and 16th centuries. The exploitation of historical sources mentioning the souks will lead us to identify shifts. The analysis of the topography of the markets will allow to appreciate progress or decline of the crafts and commercial activities. The aim of this approach is to complete our knowledge of the mamluk economic context. More specifically, it seeks to enlighten the medium-term consequences -on the craft production and trade- of the destruction of Damascus by the troops of the mongol chief Tamerlane in 1400.

Bio

Elodie Vigouroux received a PhD in Islamic Archaeology from Paris IV-Sorbonne University in 2011. Her thesis, Damas après Tamerlan : étude historique et archéologique d’une renaissance 1401-1481, was supervised by late Pr. Marianne Barrucand and by Pr. Jean-Pierre Van Staëvel. It dealt with Damascus’ «renaissance» after Tamerlane’s troop ruined it in 1401. Exploiting Mamluk chronicles and several unpublished waqf archives, it analysed, in a urban history perspective, the stackes, the actors and the methods of the rebuilding. This research which has been rewarded by the Société Française d’Histoire Urbaine in 2012, combined political and economical points of view, with an architecture and art history approach in order to build a much complete image of 15th Century Damascus.

During her stay as a Post Doctoral Fellow of the AKIPA at MIT she will be exploring further the economic topography of Damascus in the Middle Ages. Indeed, if in the Islamic cities, the centrality of the markets zone is strongly connected to the great mosque location, this specificity does not exclude the possibility of modifications in the topography of the markets according to the economic interests and the evolution of taste. Consequently, studying the development of the markets allows to appreciate progress or decline of various commercial activities and crafts. So, by examining the movements which arose in the souks throughout the Mamluk period, she will try to enlighten the economic activity and priorities in the city. This project combines the analysis of the markets’ organization based on Mamluk historical texts with the production of historicized maps demonstrating the influence of the economy, the politics and the disasters on the Damascus markets’ configuration from the 13th to 15th Century.



Lisa Wedeen

Professor of Political Science
University of Chicago

Nationalism, Sentimentality, and Judgment:
Cultivating Sympathy in the Syrian Uprising, 2011-2013

Abstract

Nationalist melodrama seems to short circuit the hard work of mourning, offering up narratives that simplify the political, and in doing so smoothing out experiences of incoherence or ambivalence. By intensifying feeling, something important about feeling is lost—or managed, legislated, even cheapened. Yet, as Lauren Berlant (2011) points out, "sentimentality is not just the mawkish, nostalgic, and simpleminded mode with which it’s conventionally associated.” It is also “a mode of relationality in which people take emotions to express something authentic about themselves that they think the world should welcome and respect; a mode constituted by affective and emotional intelligibility and a kind of generosity, recognition, and solidarity among strangers.” This talk focuses on Syrian nationalist sentimentality and efforts on the part of some cultural producers to move beyond it. The talk investigates briefly a variety of artistic products—both regime- and opposition-identified—which, in attempting to make tragedy bearable, define what counts as collective experience. Exploring not only conventional discourses of longing and suffering, but also resilient enclaves of world-affirming possibility, I ask what the alternatives to nationalism are, which though still anchored in an anti-imperial politics, might find resonance in and help to produce a salutary political imaginary in the present.

Bio

Lisa Wedeen is the Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science and the College and the Co-Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. Her publications include Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (1999); "Conceptualizing 'Culture': Possibilities for Political Science" (2002); "Concepts and Commitments in the Study of Democracy" (2004), Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power and Performance in Yemen (2008), "Ethnography as an Interpretive Enterprise" (2009), "Reflections on Ethnographic Work in Political Science" (2010), and "Ideology and Humor in Dark Times: Notes from Syria" (2013). She is the recipient of the David Collier Mid-Career Achievement Award and an NSF fellowship. She is currently working on a book about ideological interpellation, neoliberal autocracy, and generational change in present-day Syria.



Sumayah Al-Solaiman

Ibn Khaldun Fellow, MIT
Professor, College of Design
University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia

The Historiography of Contemporary Architecture in the Gulf

Abstract

Understanding the architecture and urbanism of the Gulf is contingent on understanding the motives that lead to their creation. The lecture will present work in progress that examines the architecture and urbanism of the Gulf region (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman) from the 20th Century until now by connecting it to broad political changes.
The research starts with the regional diversity of vernacular architecture in the Arabian Peninsula before the creation of nations and progresses to the creation of nation-states, colonialism and post-colonialism and the discovery of oil. The involvement of foreign experts in the development of nations and the introduction of modern architecture are highlighted as major turning points both conceptually and technologically primarily through the importation of Western models and reactions to them.
Major political decisions will be highlighted in relation to the buildings that were attached to these decisions and critically analyzed. These include but are not limited to the establishment of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the shift towards knowledge societies, the need for economic diversification, the branding of cities and planned social change with scholarship programs and the introduction of cultural projects. A number of issues arise in the discussion pertaining to the agency of governments and their representatives, representation, cultural production and more. 

Bio

Dr. Sumayah Al-Solaiman is Assistant Professor at the University of Dammam. She has both a PhD (Newcastle University, 2010) and Master of Architecture (King Faisal University, 2002) and a Bachelor’s degree in Interior Architecture (King Faisal University, 2000).
She has 13 years of teaching experience in Saudi Arabia and the UK. Her research interests include areas of intersection between architecture and politics such as the mediation of power in space and place; ideologies and nation-building in architectural practice; and regionalism within modernism. She has some peer-reviewed publications of which the most recent is a chapter entitled ‘The Absence and Emergence of Calligraphy in Najd: Calligraphy as a component of Modernist Architecture in Riyadh’ in Mohammed Gharipour and Irvin Cemil Schick’s “Calligraphy and Architecture in the Muslim World”. She was also editor-in-chief of ‘Forum: International Journal of Postgraduate Studies in Architecture, Planning and Landscape’.
She is currently Vice Dean for Quality, Development and Academic Accreditation and Chair of the Graphic Design and Multimedia program at the College of Design at the University of Dammam. Besides her academic and administrative duties she was the organizer for the International Sustainability through Biomimicry conference (Dammam, 2012); and project manager for several UD projects. She has recently been appointed director of the Patents and Technology Transfer Office, which she is charged to establish.