OCTOBER 18, 2008

Theme: “Confronting Modernity”
> Download Speaker Bios & Abstracts (pdf)

G-17 Classroom, Claudia Cohen Hall (formerly Logan Hall), University of Pennsylvania
9:009:15 am Welcome

9:1510:15 am Keynote Speaker: Glenn Lowry, The Museum of Modern Art: Oil and Sugar: Contemporary Art and Islamic Culture

10:1510:30 am Coffee Break

10:30 am – 12:15 pm (20 minutes per paper; 15 minutes for discussion)
Session 3.1

Session Leaders: Massumeh Farhad, Freer/Sackler Galleries and David J. Roxburgh, Harvard University
Session Topic: “Museums, Exhibitions, and Collections in Historical Perspective”
Session Description: The various roles played by museums and the temporary exhibition in fashioning the field of Islamic art have emerged as a topic of interest in recent years and continues to be an area of growing scholarly research. Studies have focused on the history of collecting and museum formation; the dynamics between institutions, curators, collectors, dealers, scholars, and the market; the practices of installation and how they advance overt and covert narratives; and the study of the museum collection/exhibition through the frameworks of modernity and post-modernity. Recent years have witnessed the reinstallation of key collections in Europe and America—opportunities to meditate on the history of the field and its orthodoxies—; exhibitions staged with an explicitly historiographic emphasis (the key current example being Purs Decors?, at the Musée du Louvre); and the emergence of new public museums and collections, principally in Turkey and the Gulf States. Of equal importance is the exponential growth of art fairs and biennials which present the work of contemporary artists. Museums east and west have now turned to the collection and exhibition of contemporary art. Paper presenters—art historians, curators, artists—for the session are invited to consider these broad topics and the intersections between them. In what ways have fresh perspectives and new practices engendered critical assessments of the field as it is construed?


Hussah Sabah Salem al-Sabah, Director-General, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait
From Private to Public: The Metamorphosis of the al-Sabah Collection

Anneka Lenssen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Pseudo-fragments of Heritage: Michael Rakowitz’s “The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist”

Monia Abdallah, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris: Twenty-Five Years into the John Addis Islamic Gallery of the British Museum: On Introducing Contemporary Works into a Collection of Islamic Art

Jannane al-Ani, artist: Contemporary Art: An Artist's Perspective

12:15 – 1:30 pm • •Lunch Break

1:30 – 2:30 pm
Workshop III: "Iranian Cinema in Context", Hamid Dabashi, Columbia University

2:45 – 4:30 pm (20 minutes per paper; 15 minutes for discussion)
Session 3.2

Session Leader: Farroukh Derakhshani, Aga Khan Award
Session Topic: On Conservation and Cultural Policies
Session Description: This session will explore the history and current practices of conservation and restoration in the Islamic world. Case studies are invited to gauge the ways in which specialists, governmental bodies and international organizations contribute to the making of “historic” built environments, and to the creation of local and/ or national identities.


Stefano Bianca, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zurich: Reconciling Conservation and Development – The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme

James L. Wescoat, Jr., Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Conserving Indo-Islamic Waterworks and Gardens: The Intersection of Cultural, Environmental, and Social Policy

Muhammad al-Asad, Center for the Study of the Built Environment, Amman: Relevance and Marginalization: The Architectural Historian and the "Real World

Hassan Radoine, University of Sharjah: Exploring History, Sustaining Heritage

4:304:45 pm Coffee Break

4:45 – 6:30 pm (20 minutes per paper; 15 minutes for discussion)
Session 3.3

Session Leader: Nasser Rabbat, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Session Topic: “How to Study Contemporary Islamic Art and Architecture”
Session Description: Where do contemporary Islamic art and architecture stand in the world today? This too general and consciously polemical question is not new, although recent events have lent it an unprecedented critical urgency. The answers at hand vary widely. Some commentators see in the globalizing trends and the accelerating mobility of artists and ideas beneficial vehicles for increased exposure of the contemporary Islamic art and architecture. Others point to the eurocentric pedigree of contemporary art and architecture and its most entrenched biases, such as artistic hierarchy and cultural segregation, as formidable impediments to a true integration of the contemporary Islamic art and architecture in the international scene. Still others consider the question itself too redundant since they do not think that we can define a contemporary Islamic art and architecture that is not already intermeshed with the global so as to obviate any claim of a definable and separate identity.

The papers in this panel will address these and other similar issues through examination of specific case studies.


Nebahat Avcioglu: The ‘Glocal’ in Contemporary Turkish Architecture: The Case of Han Tümertekin

Kishvar Rizvi, Yale University: Dubai, Anyplace

Ijlal Muzaffar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Concrete Alibis: Modern Architects, Planners and
the Quest for Self-Propelled Modernism in Karachi, 1953 – 1963

Sarah Rogers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Marketing Art History: The Case of Contemporary Islamic Art