[P4919] Contemporary Political Art of the Middle East

Created by Anne Marie Butler
Monday, 11/20/17 8:00am


Contemporary art remains an understudied field in scholarly disciplines concerned with the Middle East North Africa region, yet art and visual culture are crucial interlocutors of political development and social uprising, nation building, and economic shifts. In particular, political art, understood here as art that is used as a tool of change to engage with issues such as gender and racial justice, borders and immigration, and biopower in the era of late capitalism, is invaluable to larger understandings of contemporary social and political developments in the MENA region. By engendering conversations that highlight the importance of interdisciplinary cooperation, this panel seeks to address gaps in scholarship regarding the connections of contemporary Middle Eastern art to state and social structures.

In some respects, contemporary art of the Middle East may never totally escape discussions of its relationship to the Orientalist gaze, representations as well as reparative depictions of the Other, or degrees of exoticized fetishism. Veiling and women's positions, lack of democracy, and Islamic iconography remain relevant, yet somewhat redundant. In contrast, this panel investigates several significant emergent themes in contemporary Middle Eastern art and visual culture. Globally, contemporary art continues to exhibit shifts in methodologies, materials, and conceptual frameworks, and as the presentations on this panel demonstrate, art of the MENA region is also part of this trend.

Specifically, this panel theorizes relationships between spaces, places, and imaginaries and helps to evaluate the transformative potential of contemporary political art for the constructs of nation, state apparatus, and social hierarchy. Visual and performative modes often illuminate the interconnected workings of these systems. Additionally, practices of resistance and queer artistic engagements, as well as spaces and works that lend themselves to queer readings, provide opportunities to reframe approaches to systemic injustices.


Art/Art Hist



Sascha Crasnow

(University of California San Diego)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Duygu Ula

(University of Michigan)
Duygu Ula is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research focuses on queer aesthetics, identity and cultural productions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Turkey, and how local...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Nama Khalil

(University of Michigan Ann Arbor)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Anne Marie Butler

(State University of New York at Buffalo)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;