History of Art


New Media and Conflict in the Middle East

A Research Workshop

Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art / Department of Art History, UCL, 20 Gordon Square, Seminar Room 3 Tuesday, 2 December, 2014, 6-8pm

Organized by Sevan Injejikian and TJ Demos

The research workshop will address how artists from the Middle East and North Africa have taken up new media technologies in order to question what it means to experience conflict in and through the digital realm. How have new media art and visual culture negotiated uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa of the 'Arab Spring' (2010- ), and recent conflicts in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria? How do recent exhibitions and scholarship on these events position and consider the relationship between communications technologies and the construction of knowledge and power over spaces and bodies marked by war? What kind of aesthetic devices have artists developed, and how have they questioned the relationship between media representation and experiences of conflict? The workshop will also consider how new media art practices in the Middle East and North Africa promote and define memory cultures around recent uprisings and violence; model digital subjectivities in the public sphere; investigate the politics of mourning and memorialisation; inform our perception of competing temporalities; and address what Adi Kuntsman and Rebecca I. Stein term "digital suspicion" and "evidentiary uncertainty" that mark media's documentary-truth regimes.


Anthony Downey (Programme Director, MA Contemporary Art, Sotheby's Institute of Art)

Chad Elias (History of Art, The University of York)

Sevan Injejikian (History of Art, UCL)

Ted McDonald-Toone (History of Art, UCL)

Moderated by T.J. Demos (History of Art, UCL)

Selected Reading List

Jaimie Baron, 'The Archive Effect: Archival Footage as an Experience of Reception," Projections 6:2 (Winter, 2012).

Anthony Downey, "For the Common Good? Artistic Practices and Civil Society in Tunisia," in Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East, ed. Anthony Downey (London: IB Tauris, 2014), 53-69.

Chad Elias and Zaher Omareen, "Syria's Imperfect Cinema," Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, ed. Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen and Nawara Mahfoud (London: Saqi Books, 2014), 257-268.

Michel Feher, ed. Nongovernmental Politics (New York: Zone Books, 2007.

Lina Khatib, Image Politics in the Middle East: The Role of the Visual in Political Struggle (London: IB Tauris, 2013) .

Omar Kholeif, "Re-examining the Social Impulse: Politics, Media and Art after the Arab Uprisings," in Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East, ed. Anthony Downey (London: IB Tauris, 2014), 214-223.

Adi Kuntsman and Rebecca L. Stein, "Digital Suspicion, Politics, and the Middle East," Critical Inquiry (online, 2011).

Laura U. Marks, "Arab Glitch," in Uncommon Grounds, 257-271.

Dina Matar, "A Critical Reflection on Aesthetics and Politics in the Digital Age," in Uncommon Grounds, 163-168.

Meg McLagan and Yates McKee, eds. Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism (New York: Zone Books, 2012.

Nat Muller, "Performing the Undead: Life and Death in Social Media and Contemporary Art," in Uncommon Grounds, 86-95.