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LUCIS Lecture | MENA Cultures & Global Aesthetics

Moving Surfaces: A Syrian Art History of Redistribution

Friday 30 October 2020

What if no painting were flat? What if artists developed works around formlessness as well as form? How could Syria’s images be used, and by whom? This talk, which is based on research Anneka Lenssen conducted for her recent book, Beautiful Agitation: Modern Painting and Politics in Syria (UC Press, 2020), explores the multidimensional models of painting active in Syrian art throughout the twentieth century. The talk highlights examples of dissident theories of the image that emphasize distributed presence, including “unformed” paintings by Syrian modernist Fateh al-Moudarres (1922-1999) and their critique of the European academy’s self-centered narratives of innovation. It explores as well recent work by the film collective Abounaddara on “artisanal” cinema, a notion defining a filmmaker’s practice not by its format (projections and screens) so much as its reflexive relationship between formal skills and social needs.

The talk will be preceded by a short introduction by the moderators, Sanjukta Sunderason and Cristiana StravaAfter her talk, Anneka Lenssen will be in conversation with the moderators, followed by a Q&A with the audience.

All are welcome to join this online event on Friday 30 October from 17.00-18.15 (CET). LUCIS will host the event in our Kaltura Live Room, which will be publicly accessible shortly before 17.00 via the link posted below. 

Anneka Lenssen

Anneka Lenssen is Associate Professor of Global Modern Art at the University of California, Berkeley. She is author of Beautiful Agitation: Modern Painting and Politics in Syria (UC Press, 2020) and co-editor with Nada Shabout and Sarah Rogers of Modern Art in the Arab World: Primary Documents (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2018). At present she is an art editor for Critical Times and Vice Chair of her department, among other ongoing collaborations.

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