Change Author / Owner : Making History: Contemporary Art and the Middle East
The study, display, and collecting of art from the Middle East inevitably involve questions of cultural traditions and identity. Glenn Lowry, former F|S curator of Islamic art and now director of the Museum of Modern Art, shares a unique perspective on the emergence of contemporary Middle Eastern art. Making History explores the work of a number of artists from the Middle East who investigate how history is shaped and constructed from a broad array of information. Included are Walid Raad's ongoing series Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Modern And Contemporary Art in the Arab World, Michael Blum's A Tribute to Safiyeh Behar, Emily Jacir's Where Do We Come From, and Shadi Ghadirian's Qajar Series. These artists and their projects, among others, examine how fact and fiction, myth and reality, and system and structure are used to create richly textured, imagined histories that consider a wide range of social, political, and cultural issues. By using a mix of documentary and archival evidence, biographical information, photography, and film, each of these artists creates a complex story that explores how history is conceived, written, and received. Their work is especially relevant today as much of the Middle East is in transition, with competing visions and histories seeking to define how this region will be known. But as the work reveals, the future is often prefigured in the past. At the heart of Making History is an examination of the artistic and philosophical conditions that enable these artists to take on a wide range of highly charged subjects, including civil war, exile, occupation, and the construction of personal and national identities.