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ART DUBAI MODERN TALKS 2024



Kampala and Baku; Cairo and Moscow; Colombo and Almaty; Rostov, Luanda, and Ramallah: Art Dubai Modern Talks 2024 highlights the artistic links made possible by Soviet geopolitics of the Cold War. Each conversation will shift the focus from Western metropoles, instead focusing the discussion on the impact of Soviet education and exhibitions on artists from the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. Though these East-East and South-South networks may no longer be obvious today, they were critical to the formation of modern art in the region.

Bringing together a culturally diverse group of curators, scholars, and gallerists, each panel will highlight the personal stories of the artists represented in the section. They will also provide historical context to the unique grouping of artists in Art Dubai Modern, revealing why these works remain valuable and relevant to audiences, collectors, and institutions dedicated to telling the history of twentieth-century art across the Global South.

Art Dubai Modern Talks are presented in partnership with Dubai Collection.



Programme Schedule


ART DUBAI, A.R.M. MAJLIS, FORT ISLAND


5:00-5:15pm

INTRODUCING ART DUBAI MODERN 2024: “THIS OTHER WORLD: NEW CONTEXTS FOR MODERN ART AFTER 1960”
Curator, Art Dubai Modern; Assistant Professor of Art History, American University of Sharjah Dr. Christianna Bonin


5:15-6:15pm

CAIRO-MOSCOW
Lecturer, The Courtauld Institute of Art and Museum, London Dr. Maria Mileeva, Assistant Curator of International Art, Tate Modern, London Bilal Akkouche, Artist, Researcher, Curator, NYU Al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art Ala Younis and Assistant Professor of History, NYU Abu Dhabi Dr. Masha Kirasirova. Moderated by Dr. Christianna Bonin.

This talk shifts attention from Western institutions and their influence on modern art in the Arab World, focusing instead on overlooked yet impactful artistic and political connections between this culturally diverse region and the Soviet Union.




ART DUBAI, A.R.M. MAJLIS, FORT ISLAND


5:00-6:00pm

ALMATY-COLOMBO
Chief Curator, Almaty Museum of Arts Inga Lāce, Art Critic, Editorial and Content Strategy, Sharjah Art Foundation Jyoti Dhar, Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Iaroslav Volovod and Artist, India Afrah Shafiq. Moderated by Dr. Christianna Bonin.

Though Central Asia and South Asia may seem to exist in different cultural and geographical hemispheres, artists working in these regions also had shared experiences in the late twentiethcentury: the rise of nationalisms, civil unrest, an interest in recovering native languages and art practices, and a desire to connect with a nascent global art world. For this talk, specialists in art from Central Asia and South Asia will come together to highlight these parallel histories.




ART DUBAI, A.R.M. MAJLIS, FORT ISLAND


5:00-6:00pm

KAMPALA-BAKU
Director and Founder, Afriart Gallery, Kampala Daudi Karungi, Owner, Gazelli Art House, Baku/London Mila Askarova, Assistant Professor of Performance Studies and Theory and The Africa Institute, Sharjah Surafel Wondimu Abebe. Moderated by Dr. Christianna Bonin.

Both Kampala and Baku had dynamic art scenes between the 1960s and 1980s. Linking these two cities—and more generally, East Europe and East Africa—are the many art students and intellectuals who worked across these regions, absorbing and translating images, objects, and sounds from one context to another. This conversation brings these historical and present-day art worlds into focus, with experts who can speak to the challenges and opportunities of recovering lost histories and working in today’s global art market.




ART DUBAI, A.R.M. MAJLIS, FORT ISLAND


2:00-4:00pm

ROSTOV-LUANDA-RAMALLAH
Independent Journalist Samya Ayish and Film Producer, Writer, Director, Okwui Enwezor Fellow, The Africa Institute, Sharjah Idrissou Mora-Kpai. Moderated by Dr. Christianna Bonin.

The event includes the screening of several early and rarely-shown short films by Arab and African directors, as well as a roundtable discussion with practitioners and critics.

This talk and film screening explores the indelible impact left by Soviet cinema studies on the development of African and Arab filmmaking in the late twentieth century. With the collapse of the colonial administration of film industries after World War II, aspiring filmmakers from decolonizing nations took up scholarships to study cinema in cities such as Moscow, Belgrade, and East Berlin. The panel’s title is inspired by Mauritanian-born Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako’s own film “Rostov Luanda,”  which expresses a sense of hope for African liberation, which he discovered while studying in Rostov-on-Don in the 1980s.

Screening include:

Suliman Mohamed Ibrahim Elnour, It Still Rotates , 1978, Soviet Union, 20 min

Suliman Mohamed Ibrahim Elnour, Africa, the Jungle, Drums and Revolution, 1979, Soviet Union, 12 min

Idrissou Mora-Kpai, Fake Soldiers, 1999, Germany, 24 min



CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES

Surafel Wondimu Abebe (Ph.D.) is an Assistant Professor of Performance Studies and Theory at The Africa Institute, Global Studies University, Sharjah, UAE. He uses academia, multi-genre arts, and media as sites of cultural politics from which to examine representational practices and to imagine otherwise. He has studied literature, politics, cultural studies, and performance historiography.


Bilal Akkouche is Assistant Curator, International Art at Tate Modern. Bilal has curated displays of Anna Boghiguian, Pascale Marthine Tayou and Farah Al Qasimi. He is currently working on Middle East and North African Acquisitions Committee, the African Acquisition Committee and a number of upcoming displays, commissions and exhibitions. His research interests centre on postcolonial, international and transnational art, histories, and dialogues and transnational solidarity movements.


Mila Askarova was born and raised in Azerbaijan before settling in the UK. In 2010, after hosting conceptually interlinked off-site exhibitions, Askarova founded Gazelli Art House in London as an additional space to its Baku gallery, founded in 2003. Both spaces grew to support a wide range of local and international artists working in traditional and new media art through its diverse programme incorporating exhibitions, pop-ups, residencies, talks and publications.


Samya Ayish is an independent journalist and a film critic based in the UAE. She focuses in her writings on independent Arab Cinema. Samya has bylines at CNNArabic and Raseef22.


Daudi Karungi founded Afriart Gallery (AAG) in 2002 with a focus on supporting and advancing careers of African contemporary artists as well as facilitating collaborations among artists, professionals and institutions globally. The gallery artists have been featured in major institutional exhibitions, art auctions, Biennales, and Art Fairs. Daudi is at the forefront of a movement that promotes contemporary art from East Africa. In 2007, he co-founded START – a journal of arts and culture criticism, Kampala Arts Trust (KART) – a coalition of artists and art appreciators in the country and elsewhere who are working toward the dream of making art an integral part of Ugandan society. Among KART’s projects is establishing a modern art museum in the country which will facilitate research, exchange programs and training as well as offering a state-of-the-art exhibition space for local works. KART also produces the Kampala Art Biennale and Daudi has worked as its director since 2014. Daudi has been part of several important panel discussions like Talking Galleries NYC edition and has been featured in major publications including The New York times. Karungi studied at the Margaret Trowel School of Industrial and Fine Arts at Makerere University, Kampala and has been a practicing artist from 2002-2016.


Dr. Masha Kirasirova is the author of The Eastern International: Arabs, Central Asians, and Jews in the Soviet Union’s Anticolonial Empire (Oxford University Press, 2024). Her research explores political, intellectual, and aesthetic linkages between Soviet Eurasian and Middle Eastern history, currently with a focus on histories of science, technology, the environment, and gender.


Idrissou Mora-Kpai, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow and recipient of the Prince Claus Award, is an acclaimed filmmaker, committed to 25 years of socially relevant storytelling. His notable works, including “Arlit, The Second Paris,” “Indochina Traces of a Mother,” “America Street,” and “Si-Gueriki,” have earned recognition at prestigious festivals such as Berlin, Rotterdam, Vienna, Milano, Busan, and Sheffield, etc.


Inga Lāce (b. 1986) is chief curator at the Almaty Museum of Arts. Lāce served as the CMAP Central and Eastern Europe Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art (2020-2023) in New York and held the position of curator at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art from 2012 to 2022.


Dr. Maria Mileeva is a Lecturer at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London. Her research and teaching examine the linkages between the cultural policies of Soviet socialist realism and socialist internationalism in the postwar period.


Afrah Shafiq is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Goa, India. Her work takes hybrid forms that bring together text, sound, animation, code, and sculpture to create interactive, sometimes simulated atmospheres to experience and unlearn. She often seeks ways to retain the tactile within the digital and the poetry within technology.


Iaroslav Volovod, a curator at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, a contributing curator of numerous contemporary art exhibitions, writer and researcher. Volovod is a graduate of St. Petersburg State University, where he studied Hindi and Sanskrit majoring in Indo-Aryan Philology. He received an MA in curatorial studies from Bard College, New York.


Ala Younis is an artist with curatorial, film and publishing projects. She presented her work in solo shows in Amman, Dubai, Sharjah, New York, London, Seville and Prague. She curated the first Kuwaiti Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2013), and co-curated the Singapore Biennale (2022). In 2012, Ala Younis co-founded Kayfa ta, an independent publishing initiative researching, exhibiting and publishing on and through independent publishing endeavors. She is Artistic Director of the Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne, and Research Scholar at al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art at New York University Abu Dhabi.



ART DUBAI, A.R.M HOLDING MAJLIS, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


5:00-6:00pm

CAIRO-LENINGRAD
This talk shifts attention from Western metropoles and their influence on modern art in the Arab World, focusing instead on overlooked yet impactful artistic and political connections between this culturally diverse region and the Soviet Union.




ART DUBAI, A.R.M HOLDING MAJLIS, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


5:00-6:00pm

KAMPALA-BAKU
Both Kampala and Baku had dynamic art scenes between the 1960s and 1980s. Linking these two cities—and more generally, East Europe and East Africa—are the many art students and intellectuals who worked across these regions, absorbing and translating images, objects, and sounds from one context to another. This conversation brings these historical and present-day art worlds into focus, with experts who can speak to the challenges and opportunities of recovering lost histories and working in today’s global art market.




ART DUBAI, A.R.M HOLDING MAJLIS, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


5:00-6:00pm

ALMATY-COLOMBO
Though Central Asia and South Asia may seem to exist in different cultural and geographical hemispheres, artists working in these regions also had shared experiences in the late twentieth-century: the rise of nationalisms, civil unrest, an interest in recovering native languages and art practices, and a desire to connect with a nascent global art world. For this talk, specialists in art from Central Asia and South Asia will come together to highlight these parallel histories.


CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES

Nathalie Bondil is an internationally renowned museologist and art historian. This Franco-Canadian has directed the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (2007-2020), where she led several major expansion projects with a local, national and international outreach. She initiated, produced and exported numerous intercultural and interdisciplinary exhibitions in the fields of fine arts, music, fashion and cinema. In the field of artistic action and health research, she is recognized for her social and inclusive commitment to museums with her concept of “museotherapy”, which she pursues with the Université de Montréal and the École du Louvre in Paris. Vice-Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts (2014-2021), now member of the Board of Directors of ICOM-France, she is the recipient of numerous awards and doctorates in Canada and France. She joins the Institut of the Arab World, Paris, in 2021 as Museum and Exhibitions Director, responsible for the reinstallation of the future “New IMA Museum” initiated by his president Jack Lang, whose collection of modern and contemporary art has been enriched by 1,800 works thanks to the major donation by Claude and France Lemand.


Karina El Helou is the director of the Sursock Museum since October 2022. Before her appointment, she worked as an independent curator and organised two major projects The Silent Echo at Baalbek Museum and Cycles of Collapsing Progress, in partnership with BeMa, at the Rashid Karami International Fair and the citadel of Tripoli in Lebanon.


Hala Khayat is a Dubai based middle Eastern, Arab, Iranian and Turkish senior arts specialist, cultural consultant, writer, curator, art collector and philanthropist with over 16 years’ experience. In 2020 she joined Art Dubai as regional director. She was in charge of re-launching ‘Art Salon’, the collectors group, as well as contributing and implementing the strategy of outreach and engagement with top collectors. Hala is co-founder of Safir, an NGO that supports Syrian artists. Prior to that, she played an active role in developing the regional art scene internationally. Through her former role of 14 years at Christies auction house where she was director, head of Department of post war and contemporary, putting together auctions in Dubai, Paris, London and online. She worked on developing regional education programs with Christie’s education and has been an active lecturer on art history and the market since 2010. Under her tenure, she oversaw all the museum, public, corporate as well as private valuations conducted in the region since 2007. She curated the top auctions and established structures for Arab and Iranian artists’ estates.


Salwa Mikdadi, Professor of Practice in Art History and Director of al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Professor Mikdadi’s research and publications focus on modern and contemporary art of the Arab world, Arab art institutions, gender politics in art, and museums and society. Mikdadi was the co-founder and Director of Cultural & Visual Arts Resource/ICWA, one of the first non-profit organizations dedicated to the study of Arab art (USA 1988-2006). She curated numerous exhibitions, including the first Palestinian Exhibition for the 53rd Venice Biennial in 2009.


Dr. Ridha Moumni is an Art and Archaeology historian, currently Deputy Chairman of Middle East and North Africa at Christie’s. He earned his Ph.D. at La Sorbonne University, and has an academic and professional specialisation in Antiquity and modern art. He curated exhibitions of photographs, early modern and modern art, and published on collecting practice and artists in 19th and 20th century North Africa. Prior to joining Christie’s, he was an Aga Khan Fellow at the Department of Art History of Harvard University.


Azza Munif was born in Damascus 1970 and lived in Beirut and Baghdad. With the intensification of the Iran- Iraq war, the family left Baghdad to settle in Paris from 1981 – 1987. Returning to Damascus in 1987, Azza completed her high school degree at the French school of Damascus and then obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Damascus University and Her BA in Political Science in Beirut. Azza is the eldest daughter of the late Arab Novelist Abdul Rahman Munif – a modern nomad – as he loved to call himself. Munif lived in exile his whole life, moving from one country to another. From Amman to Baghdad, Cairo, Belgrade, Damascus, Beirut, and Paris, to finally settle in Damascus ,where he passed away in 2004. After accumulating failures, and deceptions in politics and politicians, Munif and many of his generation turned to the power of the written word, and to art as the best catalyst for change. At that time they saw art , as the only certainty in a region in turmoils and political instability. Munif believed that artists, poets, writers, musicians need to connect, exchange their experiences and build bridges between their respective disciplines to enrich each other. Munif’s home in every city was an oasis of art , beautiful encounters, enriching conversations. Fateh Moudares, Dia Azzawi, Rafa al Nasiri, Nazir Nabaa, Jaber Alwan, Jabra I Jabra, Sadalla Wanous, Mahmoud Darwish ,Al Jawahiri, were among others but his bond with Marwan Kassab Bachi was very special. It helped him and Marwan find their ways and navigate through one of the darkest times of our history.


Andrée Sfeir-Semler is an art historian and gallery owner with branches in Hamburg, Germany and Beirut, Lebanon. She studied fine art and filmmaking in Beirut, as well as history and history of art at at the Sorbonne and at the university of Bielefeld, where she earned her PhD. She can be credited with opening the first white cube exhibition space in the Middle East (Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut) and for launching internationally the careers of several highly regarded artists such as Etel Adnan, Yto Barrada, MARWAN, Walid Raad, Marwan Rechmaoui, Wael Shawky and Akram Zaatari.


Nada Shabout is a Regent Professor of Art History and the Coordinator of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Initiative (CAMCSI) at the University of North Texas. She is the founding president of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA), and a curator and author of numerous essays and books.


Devika Singh is Senior Lecturer in Curating at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She was previously Curator, International Art at Tate Modern. Her writing has appeared widely in exhibition catalogues, art magazines and journals and her book International Departures: Art in India after Independence is forthcoming with Reaktion Books. She has curated exhibitions and museum displays, among other places, at the CSMVS, Mumbai; Duke University; the Dhaka Art Summit; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; and Tate Modern.



ART DUBAI, A.R.M HOLDING MAJLIS, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


5:00-6:00pm

ABSTRACTION AND FIGURATION: LOOKING TO SHAPES
Dr. Nada Shabout, Salwa Mikdadi, Ridha Moumni
By critically reviewing the history of pictorial abstraction around the middle of the 20th century, the conversation reflected on the canons of artistic modernity by creating a bridge between past and present and reconsidering the theme of figuration in the light of experiences in the MENASA countries.





ART DUBAI, A.R.M HOLDING MAJLIS, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


3:00-4:00pm

MODERN ART AND MUSEUMS
Karina El Helou, Nathalie Bondil, Nada Shabout, Devika Singh, Ridha Moumni
The conversation reflected on possible ways to include and present modern art from MENASA countries in international museums and how to preserve the region’s heritage in the light of global market interest.





ART DUBAI, A.R.M HOLDING MAJLIS, MADINAT JUMEIRAH


5:00-6:00pm

GEOGRAPHIES OF LAND AND FACES IN MARWAN’S WORLD: THEIR DECONSTRUCTION AND REANIMATION
Andrée Sfeir-Semler, Azza Munif, Hala Khayat
Pioneering artist MARWAN Kassab Bachi left his mark on the contemporary art scene, with his work celebrated in both Eastern and Western contexts. He influenced an entire generation of young artists, and this panel reflected on a lifetime of stories, friendships, inspirations, and the rich body of work that makes up his legacy.



CONTRIBUTORS’ BIOGRAPHIES

Nathalie Bondil is an internationally renowned museologist and art historian. This Franco-Canadian has directed the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (2007-2020), where she led several major expansion projects with a local, national and international outreach. She initiated, produced and exported numerous intercultural and interdisciplinary exhibitions in the fields of fine arts, music, fashion and cinema. In the field of artistic action and health research, she is recognized for her social and inclusive commitment to museums with her concept of “museotherapy”, which she pursues with the Université de Montréal and the École du Louvre in Paris. Vice-Chair of the Canada Council for the Arts (2014-2021), now member of the Board of Directors of ICOM-France, she is the recipient of numerous awards and doctorates in Canada and France. She joins the Institut of the Arab World, Paris, in 2021 as Museum and Exhibitions Director, responsible for the reinstallation of the future “New IMA Museum” initiated by his president Jack Lang, whose collection of modern and contemporary art has been enriched by 1,800 works thanks to the major donation by Claude and France Lemand.


Karina El Helou is the director of the Sursock Museum since October 2022. Before her appointment, she worked as an independent curator and organised two major projects The Silent Echo at Baalbek Museum and Cycles of Collapsing Progress, in partnership with BeMa, at the Rashid Karami International Fair and the citadel of Tripoli in Lebanon.


Hala Khayat is a Dubai based middle Eastern, Arab, Iranian and Turkish senior arts specialist, cultural consultant, writer, curator, art collector and philanthropist with over 16 years’ experience. In 2020 she joined Art Dubai as regional director. She was in charge of re-launching ‘Art Salon’, the collectors group, as well as contributing and implementing the strategy of outreach and engagement with top collectors. Hala is co-founder of Safir, an NGO that supports Syrian artists. Prior to that, she played an active role in developing the regional art scene internationally. Through her former role of 14 years at Christies auction house where she was director, head of Department of post war and contemporary, putting together auctions in Dubai, Paris, London and online. She worked on developing regional education programs with Christie’s education and has been an active lecturer on art history and the market since 2010. Under her tenure, she oversaw all the museum, public, corporate as well as private valuations conducted in the region since 2007. She curated the top auctions and established structures for Arab and Iranian artists’ estates.


Salwa Mikdadi, Professor of Practice in Art History and Director of al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Professor Mikdadi’s research and publications focus on modern and contemporary art of the Arab world, Arab art institutions, gender politics in art, and museums and society. Mikdadi was the co-founder and Director of Cultural & Visual Arts Resource/ICWA, one of the first non-profit organizations dedicated to the study of Arab art (USA 1988-2006). She curated numerous exhibitions, including the first Palestinian Exhibition for the 53rd Venice Biennial in 2009.


Dr. Ridha Moumni is an Art and Archaeology historian, currently Deputy Chairman of Middle East and North Africa at Christie’s. He earned his Ph.D. at La Sorbonne University, and has an academic and professional specialisation in Antiquity and modern art. He curated exhibitions of photographs, early modern and modern art, and published on collecting practice and artists in 19th and 20th century North Africa. Prior to joining Christie’s, he was an Aga Khan Fellow at the Department of Art History of Harvard University.


Azza Munif was born in Damascus 1970 and lived in Beirut and Baghdad. With the intensification of the Iran- Iraq war, the family left Baghdad to settle in Paris from 1981 – 1987. Returning to Damascus in 1987, Azza completed her high school degree at the French school of Damascus and then obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Damascus University and Her BA in Political Science in Beirut. Azza is the eldest daughter of the late Arab Novelist Abdul Rahman Munif – a modern nomad – as he loved to call himself. Munif lived in exile his whole life, moving from one country to another. From Amman to Baghdad, Cairo, Belgrade, Damascus, Beirut, and Paris, to finally settle in Damascus ,where he passed away in 2004. After accumulating failures, and deceptions in politics and politicians, Munif and many of his generation turned to the power of the written word, and to art as the best catalyst for change. At that time they saw art , as the only certainty in a region in turmoils and political instability. Munif believed that artists, poets, writers, musicians need to connect, exchange their experiences and build bridges between their respective disciplines to enrich each other. Munif’s home in every city was an oasis of art , beautiful encounters, enriching conversations. Fateh Moudares, Dia Azzawi, Rafa al Nasiri, Nazir Nabaa, Jaber Alwan, Jabra I Jabra, Sadalla Wanous, Mahmoud Darwish ,Al Jawahiri, were among others but his bond with Marwan Kassab Bachi was very special. It helped him and Marwan find their ways and navigate through one of the darkest times of our history.


Andrée Sfeir-Semler is an art historian and gallery owner with branches in Hamburg, Germany and Beirut, Lebanon. She studied fine art and filmmaking in Beirut, as well as history and history of art at at the Sorbonne and at the university of Bielefeld, where she earned her PhD. She can be credited with opening the first white cube exhibition space in the Middle East (Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut) and for launching internationally the careers of several highly regarded artists such as Etel Adnan, Yto Barrada, MARWAN, Walid Raad, Marwan Rechmaoui, Wael Shawky and Akram Zaatari.


Nada Shabout is a Regent Professor of Art History and the Coordinator of the Contemporary Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Initiative (CAMCSI) at the University of North Texas. She is the founding president of the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran and Turkey (AMCA), and a curator and author of numerous essays and books.


Devika Singh is Senior Lecturer in Curating at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She was previously Curator, International Art at Tate Modern. Her writing has appeared widely in exhibition catalogues, art magazines and journals and her book International Departures: Art in India after Independence is forthcoming with Reaktion Books. She has curated exhibitions and museum displays, among other places, at the CSMVS, Mumbai; Duke University; the Dhaka Art Summit; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge; and Tate Modern.