New book on cultural institutions in the Middle East

Ibraaz is pleased to announce the publication of our third book in the Visual Culture in the Middle East series, Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East.futureimperfect_cover

Buy the book via the Sternberg Press website and on Amazon.de.

Read the introduction, “Critical Propositions and Institutional Realities in the Middle East” by Anthony Downey, by clicking here.

#FutureImperfect critically examines the role played by cultural institutions in producing present-day and future contexts for the production, dissemination and reception of contemporary art in the Middle East and North Africa.

It offers critical contexts for a discussion that has become increasingly urgent in recent years – the role of culture in a time of conflict and globalization – and an in-depth critique of the historical state of cultural institutions in an age of political upheaval, social unrest, exuberant cultural activity, ascendant neoliberal forms of privatization, social activism, and regional uncertainty.

Organised around three key areas, Future Imperfect draws attention to the specific antagonisms that have affected cultural production across the region, both in historical and more recent post-revolutionary contexts, and offers an in-depth discussion of how cultural producers have developed alternative institutional models through their practices. How cultural institutions operate within the conditions of a global cultural economy, and alongside the often conflicting demands they place on cultural production in the region, is likewise an over-arching concern throughout this volume.

While the politics of contemporary cultural production and institutional practices in the Middle East can tell us a great deal about local and regional concerns, one of the cornerstone ambitions of this volume is to enquire into what they can also impart about the politics of global cultural production, including the multiple ways in which contemporary art practices are being reduced, willingly or otherwise, to the logic of global capital. What, in sum, is needed in terms of infrastructure for cultural production today, and how, crucially, can we speculatively propose new infrastructures and institutions in the context of present-day regional realities?

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Monira Al Qadiri, Myth Busters VIII, 2014.

Future Imperfect contains essays, interviews, and projects from contributors including Monira Al Qadiri, Hoor Al-Qasimi, Anahi Alviso-Marino, AMBS Architects, Stephanie Bailey, Eray Çaylı, Rachel Dedman, Elizabeth Derderian, Anthony Downey, Karen Exell, Reema Salha Fadda, Wafa Gabsi, Hadia Gana, Adalet R. Garmiany, Baha Jubeh, Suhair Jubeh, Amal Khalaf, Kamel Lazaar, Jens Maier-Rothe, Guy Mannes-Abbott, Doreen Mende, Lea Morin, Jack Persekian, Rijin Sahakian, Gregory Sholette, Tom Snow, Ania Szremski, Christine Tohme, Toleen Touq, Williams Wells, Ala Younis and Yasmine Zidane.

The publication is accompanied by a collection of special projects from Leila Al-Shami, Wided Rihana Khadraoui, Lois Stonock, Nile Sunset Annex, Alia Rayyan and Hussam al-Saray. Click here to view the online projects commissioned for Future Imperfect.

 

Other titles in the Visual Culture in the Middle East series, edited by Anthony Downey, include Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East (2015); and Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East (2014).

 The production of this book was accomplished through the generous support of the Kamel Lazaar Foundation.

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Five offbeat art spaces to seek out in Istanbul

Five offbeat art spaces to seek out in Istanbul

Collectorspace

Collectorspace

It’s a difficult reality that galleries around the globe have to deal with: prime locations in the city centre come at a premium. Istanbul’s Collectorspace, just a few metres away from Istanbul’s central Taksim Square has found a resourceful solution to this issue. The former residential building hosts exhibitions in a space not larger than 20 sq. m—once the living room—that are proportional to its size. A single work of art is usually on display, from an important private contemporary art collection, alongside a video interview with the collector and a publication. So far it has hosted works from 15 international collections.

BRM Otopark

BRM Otopark

Another example of an ingenious use of Istanbul’s urban space comes in the form of an abandoned car park in Tophane’s Boğazkesen Street. Cevdet Erek, who has been nominated for the fourth biennial Jameel Prize and selected to represent Turkey in next year’s Venice Biennale, used the space for the 2015 Istanbul Biennial for his immersive sound project A Room of Rhythms—Otopark. The car park was scheduled to be knocked down for redevelopment but the demolition has since been postponed and Erek continues to use the space for sound projects and encourages other artists to do the same. So far, there have been musical performances with a microtonal guitar and a pocket clarinet, as well as a rendition of John Cage’s 4’33”. Erek is excited to see the project grow, saying: “In a time of extreme security we have an open door space”.

5533

5533

The not-for-profit space 5533 is nestled between the shops and cafes of a 1950s shopping centre in the Unkapanı neighbourhood. It opened in 2007 as a satellite venue for the Istanbul Biennial and is fast becoming a base for the Turkish contemporary art scene. Founded by the artists Nancy Atakan and Volkan Aslan and headed by artistic directors on a rolling, voluntary basis, 5533 aims to be a “contact zone” to bring together people from different locations, occupations, and backgrounds to interact, discuss, and display their art-related research. Most recently, the curator and founding director of Protocinema Mari Spirito launched the Proto5533 project, organising exhibitions for emerging artists and curators, with mentoring from established art professionals from Istanbul and abroad.

Depo

Depo

Housed in a former tobacco warehouse, Depo is a huge space that supports artists and collectives as well as civic and cultural organisations in Turkey, the South Caucasus, the Middle East and the Balkans. Their programming doesn’t shy away from the big issues that affect the country and the region, such as the recognition of the Armenian Genocide or the influx of Syrian refugees—despite being located in quite a conservative neighbourhood. “There is a polarisation within society since the Gezi uprisings and that is reflected in the community here. That’s why we are touching on taboo subjects,” says Asena Gunal, Depo’s programme coordinator.

The Museum of Innocence

The Museum of Innocence

Familiar to some who have read the eponymous book by Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence is a treasure trove of Turkish popular culture and history, as well as a fascinating piece of design and curatorial vision. Both the book and the museum describe life in Istanbul between 1950 and 2000 through memories centred around two families. The museum, which won the 2014 European Museum of the Year Award, is designed as a modern day wunderkammer—each chapter is represented by carefully presented cabinets, which line the walls of the three-storey residential building. Inside you can also find Pamuk’s fascinating “modest manifesto for museums” where he states that the future of museums is “inside our own homes”, rather than in monumental institutions like the Louvre.

Originally posted on The Art Newspaper.