29 November 2011
Norway's largest gallery under the direction of artists is holding a seminar investigating the role of the arts on the Arab Spring presently unfolding in the Middle East.
The seminar is taking place in conjunction with exhibition of Composition for Two Wings by Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari.
Kunstnernes Hus (pictured above), located in Oslo, is governed by the Norwegian Visual Artists Association and Norway's Ministry of Culture.
The seminar is being led by Professor Cynthia P. Schneider, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where she is an expert on relations with the Muslim world. From 1984-2005, she was a member of the art history faculty at the same university, and published on Rembrandt and seventeenth century Dutch art.
Questions to be explored at the seminar are:
What role has arts - and artists - played in the protests?
Should we expect the transition regimes to foster a new and different relationship to the cultural sphere?
What role could arts play - in healing the wounds from years of repression, in building new relationships, in inspiring change - as a new contract between state and society is being shaped?
The seminar, which takes place on 7 December, will be chaired by Scott Gates, Research Professor and Director of the Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW) at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO).
"Composition for Two Wings" - works by Akram Zaatari, launches Kunstnernes Hus' annual event known as Oslo Contemporary Art Exhibition, which aims to challenge contemporary arts' traditional and centralized cultural networks.
Zaatari (b. 1966 in Saida) examines the cultural and geopolitical condition of post-war Lebanon through the use of a wide range of documents; letters, photographs, testimonies and other recordings that communicate individual and personal positions within the larger social and political landscape.
The material exposes hidden social, political, and geographic boundaries and conflicts as they challenge a specter of narratives; national, gender, historical and social.
"Composition for Two Wings" consists of a juxtaposition of two large installations: "Earth of Endless Secrets" and "The Uneasy Subject".
"Earth of Endless Secrets" reveals the intimate layers of history contained in records of the everyday.
The "Uneasy Subject" looks at the desire embedded in representations of the human body on Youtube, and in photographic documents collected by Zaatari during the years of his involvement with the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut.
The exhibition, which runs until 2 january 2012, in Oslo is the first time Akram Zaatari presents two large installations side by side.
The Oslo Contemporary Art Exhibition was initiated by Marianne Hultman, artistic director Oslo Kunstforening/Oslo Fine Art Society. The concept has been developed further in collaboration with Mats Stjernstedt, artistic director Kunstnernes Hus. PRIO, Peace Research Institute in Oslo is collaborating partner this year.
"Arts, Culture, and Social Change Within the Arab Spring" PRIO November 29, 2011
"Oslo Contemporary Art Exhibition 2011" PRIO November 4, 2011
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today