Posted on November 29, 2019
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies (DI) wrapped up a three-day conference titled “Art Schools: Histories and Trajectories”. The conference shed light on the histories and trajectories of art schools. Particularly, it focused on fine arts institutions as well as the marginal avant-garde groups that emerged in response to the multiple developments in art theories and innovative artistic practices around the globe.
The first day of the conference took place at Mathaf Library in Education City – Qatar Foundation, and continued for two days at the Doha Institute Amphitheatre. The first day of the conference opened with Ebrahim Alkazi, an autodidact and creator of Para-Academic Spaces in 1950s Bombay and Ranjit Hoskote, a poet, cultural theorist and curator based in India as keynote speakers. The session was moderated by Brian Edwards, Dean of Tulane University, New Orleans.
The first session of the day was titled “Changing Art Schools: A comparative institutional perspective” and shed light on various case studies from Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon and Tunisia. Speakers included: Tina Barouti, a Phd Candidate in the History of Art and Architecture at Boston University, Rawan Sharaf, an Art Director, Curator and Researcher, MK Harb, an Anthropologist and Writer, and Hela Hedhili, an AssistantProfessor of Fine Arts at the University of Sousse. The session was moderated by Issam Nassar, Professor at Illinois State University and DI.
The second session was titled “Building Institutions: Experiences, Critiques and Lessons” and was moderated by Mohammed Al-Baloshi, a Consultant at the Ministry of Culture and Sport in Qatar. Speakers included Housni Alkhateeb Shehada, a Researcher and Curator Gerogia Kotretsos, an Artist and Researcher based in Greece, Hamad Al Mulla, a Researcher at DI and Fabrice Hyber an Artist based in France. 
Commenting on the event, Abdellah Karroum – director of Mathaf, stated: “We are pleased to host the 2nd annual conference in collaboration with our colleagues at Doha Institute for Graduate Studies. This edition examines the varying historical and institutional formations of art schools, and the emergence of movements around new and disruptive ideas. These experiences have shaped the fine arts field in their respective regions and continue to be important case studies for the modern questions we face today. This year’s conference is also an opportunity to discuss the circulation of knowledge and ways of connecting the faculty research and museum practice.” 
For his part, Dr. Ismail Nashif, professor of sociology and anthropology at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, said: "The radical transformations in Arab societies in the last decade necessitate that we think about artistic expressions and how to deal with art in its broadest sense – particularly its role in these transformations. Hence, we need to shed light on artistic schools and the pioneering and marginal groups that formed their antithesis in the modernist era. We also need to ask ourselves: how can art be taught today after the transformations that have swept Arab societies? Is the structural relationship between the Center and the Marginal, Institutional and Avant-garde still generating capacity at present in our societies? What about artistic community productions?”
MATHAF and Doha Institute [].jpeg
The second day of the conference opened with a keynote lecture titled “Art Institutions in Modern Iran: Reflecting or Resisting Avant-gardism” delivered by Hamid Keshmirshekan, Senior Teaching Fellow at the Department of History of Art and Archaelogy at SOAS and Senior Research Associate at Khalili Research Center at Oxford University. The lecture was moderated by Housni Alkhateeb Shehada, Head of the Department of Visual Art at the Levinsky College of Education and Senior Lecturer at the Bezalel Azademy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. The first session of the day one was titled “Ways of Teaching: Schools, Movements, Styles” and was moderated by DrissKsikes, Director of Economia. Speakers included Muhammed Jabali, artist and author, Catherine Fraixe, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at the Ecole Nationale Superieurd’Art de Bourges,SirineAbdelhedi, Councilor for Africa and the Middle East within the International Soceity for Education through Art (InSEA) and Sabih Ahmed, Curator and Researcher.
The second session was titled “Center/Periphery: Deconstructing Binaries in Art Schools and Movements” and was moderated by Rawan Sharaf, Art Director, Curator and Researcher. Speakers included: DouniaBengassem, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Hassan II University, Joshua D. Gonsalves, Associate Professor at the English Department of the American University in Beirut, FatenNastasMitwasi, Artist and Jumanah Abbas, Architect.
The third day was opened with a keynote lecture titled “Organic Connectors: Art Dynamics, New “Intellectuals” and Schools of Thought in Morocco” delivered by Driss Ksikes, Director of Economia, and moderated by Catherine Fraixe, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art History at the Ecole Nationale Superieur d’Art de Bourges. The first session was titled “Interdisciplinary Art Teaching and Practices” and was moderated by Joshua D. Gonsalves, Associate Professor at the English Department of the American University in Beirut. Speakers included: OziomaOnuzulike, Professor of Ceramic Art and African Art/Design at the department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Ahmed Mjidou, Professor of Art History and History of Civilizations at the National Institute of Fine Arts in Tetouan, and Issam Nassar, Professor of History at Illinois State University and DI.
Developed as part of an ongoing dialogue between Mathaf and DI, the conference aims to open venues of discussion to a wide range of professionals, practitioners, and thinkers. Mathaf sees itself as a place for debate and a platform for reading and sharing art histories, as well as enabling the community to experience iconic art movements.