The cultural production of the Arab World and Iran is often viewed through the limiting lens of European and American modes of art theory. “Writing/Curating the Middle East”—a two-day symposium (March 30–31) sponsored by the History of Art Department, Yale University Art Gallery, and Council on Middle East Studies at the MacMillan Center—sought to challenge this historiographical limitation. Examining issues of national identity and diversity through historical entanglement and synchronicity, curators and art historians proposed a new discourse on art from the Middle East.
Consisting of an artist talk and three thematic panels, the symposium illustrated the region’s ties to global modern art movements. Speakers included Wael Shawky, University of Pennsylvania; Linda Komaroff, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Sultan Al Qassemi, Barjeel Art Foundation; Alex Seggerman, Smith College; Clare Davies, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Dina Ramadan, Bard College; Saleem Al-Bahloly, Johns Hopkins University; and miriam cooke, Duke University. Kishwar Rizvi, Co-organizer and Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture,Yale University, introduced the symposium, with a roundtable discussion led by Pamela Franks, Co-organizer and Senior Deputy Director, Seymour H. Knox, Jr., Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Yale University Art Gallery. Individual panels were moderated by Frauke V. Josenhans, Horace W. Goldsmith Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Yale University Art Gallery; Mandy Merzaban, Curator, Barjeel Art Foundation; and Najwa Mayer, Wurtele Gallery Teacher, Yale University Art Gallery.