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UNT symposium to restore modern art histories from Southwest Asia-North Africa region

"The 1980s: Representational Pressures, Departures and Beginnings"

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A University of North Texas research symposium will redress the absence of modern art histories from the Arab East, North Africa, Iran and Turkey regions.

The 1980s: Representational Pressures, Departures and Beginnings will offer opportunities to develop the missing knowledge from the Southwest Asia-North Africa (SWANA) region’s art history. In addition, the symposium will contextualize the influence of the 1980s on the region and understand it within a wider global context of developments.

The 1980s in the Arab World, Iran and Turkey was an important decade that witnessed shifts, transitions, endings and new beginnings. It was a turbulent decade that featured horrific moments, but also had interesting and enduring developments. These transformations are still active in the region’s current artistic production and cultural memories. For various reasons, however, not much of its art history has been written, according to Nada Shabout, Regents Professor of Modern Arab and Middle Eastern Art at UNT and founding president of AMCA.

“We hope people are introduced to art and artists from the region and gain an understanding of the decade’s dynamic impact on the region and the world,” said Shabout, who is one of the world’s leading scholars in modern Arab art and introduced one of the first university art history classes on the subject.

“Much of what is happening today has its roots then. Most importantly, we want people to see the connectedness through the art and with the rest of the world.”

The symposium will feature a keynote address by Sama’an Ashrawi, a writer and producer known for the TV series Afrofuturism and the short film An Ode to Hannibal Buress. There also will be a series of panels led by experts around the globe who will discuss art in the SWANA region. The keynote address and panel discussions will be livestreamed and recorded for later online viewing.

The symposium will run in tandem with the CVAD Gallery Fall 2022 exhibition A Banquet for Seaweed: Snapshots from the Arab 1980s. Curated by Shabout, it includes artwork that symposium participants will be engaging with during the panel discussions and gives visitors and CVAD students a unique opportunity to view art from the Arab world. 

The art show features work from the Barjeel Art Foundation based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, which co-sponsors the exhibition, and other private collections. In-gallery text is presented in English, Spanish and Arabic.

What: The 1980s: Representational Pressures, Departures and Beginnings, a research symposium about modern art histories in the Southwest Asia-North Africa region

When: Nov. 3-5

Where: UNT Art Building, 1201 W. Mulberry St., Denton

Sponsors: UNT Office of the President, College of Visual Arts and Design Department of Art History, International Studies Program, Women’s and Gender Studies, LGBTQ Studies as well as the Association for Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA) and al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art at New York University at Abu Dhabi

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To Attend: The symposium is free and open to the public. Learn more details and register on the symposium webpage.

A Banquet for Seaweed: Snapshots from the Arab 1980s

When: Through Jan. 28

Where: CVAD Gallery in Room 160 of the UNT Art Building, 1201 W. Mulberry St., Denton

Gallery Hours: Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; Noon to 8 p.m. Thursday

To Attend: The exhibit is free and open to the public

Source: UNT

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