Mathaf’s Visual Arts Studies Third Annual Conference highlights pandemic impact on cultural landscape
The event held in partnership with Doha Institute for Graduate Studies has concluded
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies (DI) have concluded the Visual Arts Studies Third Annual Conference 2020-2021, which brought together artists, researchers, museum practitioners and curators from across the world.
The virtual conference, titled The Future Museum in the Future City, engaged participants in discussions on the potential scenarios facing museums in the near future.
Held from April 25 to 27, the event highlighted the impact of the pandemic on the cultural landscape and the different roles of cities and museums, it reviewed several future open scenarios that stimulate critical thinking around the topic.
In a statement, DI’s Anthropology associate professor Ismail Nashef said: “In this conference, we had brought together explorative and critical perspectives, from around the world, discussing ways of coping with the current pandemic. It acted as a platform of enquiry based on the history of the interrelation of art, museums, and the city.
“Most of the speakers, while looking for future scenarios, have been relying on recent similar cases as well as various historical ones to pave the way for possible new and creative practices in relation to the museum’s positionalities.
“One of the main conclusions drawn from the proceedings of the conference is that museums should be redefined so as to take more active roles in the various communities in which they are located. Be it a real or virtual community, it ought to act as the museum’s anchorage for any possible post-pandemic future.”
Mathaf director Abdellah Karroum said: “The conference provided a vital platform to discuss the role of cultural institutions in times of crisis, especially in light of the current extraordinary circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We look forward to further co-operation with the DI, to develop Visual Studies’ research and contribute to making museums play a major role in community development.”
The first day of the conference explored the topic of Critical Reading of the Urban Formative Forces of the Plagued City, moderated by Amal Alhaag, researcher and curator, Curatorial and Research Consultant at Mathaf, in which participants examined working papers, including Speculative and Excessive: Of Finance, Architecture and Contemporary Museums in the Arab World by independent researcher, Adham Selim.
Lawyer and lecturer Mohamed Ouassit (Morocco), touched on the issue of the Legal Protection of Mobile Traditional Artefacts in the Arab World in Times of Armed Conflicts and Pandemics, while Dr Ali A Alraouf, professor of Architecture and Urbanism at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), presented his paper entitled, A Tale of Two Cities, Two Museums and One Starchitect: Contesting Cities, Communities and Museums Relationship.
The second session was devoted to Revising the History of the Modern Museum in Light of the Current Pandemic, moderated by Issam Nassar, DI, during which Dr Suaad Babakir of the Sudan Archaeological Society explained the Role of the Museum Spaces in Fostering the Solidarity and Steadfastness of the Local Communities during Covid-19 and after the globe has overcome the pandemic.
Researcher Fadma Fangach (Morocco) addressed the topic of The Epistemological Museum and the Post Covid-19 Challenges, while Abdellatif Khalqi from the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, presented a research paper that shed light on the Role of the Museum in Coping with Pandemics.
The second day of the conference included two sessions, the first of which was Speculating and Foreseeing the Future Possible Relations of the Museum and the City, moderated by Ranjit Hoskote, poet and curator, Curatorial and Research Consultant at Mathaf, and featuring the participation of both Faeza al-Thamari and Rouhollah Khodabandelou from Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University.
During their interventions, they raised the topic of An Effective Mixed-Reality Approach and a New Vision of Museums’ Environment. Nancy Salem of the Oxford Internet Institute, UK, presented a working paper entitled, Imagining Museum Forms for the Future.
The discussion in the second session of day two of the conference, dealt with the Possibilities of Visualizing the New Bio-Political Regime(s), and the Invention of Ways of Resisting It, moderated by Vasif Kortun, Curatorial and Research consultant, Mathaf.
Halima Asli and Faiza Kallal of Algeria’s University of Oran 2 Mohamed Ben Ahmed raised the topic of the Role of the Plagued City in Reshaping the Informational Environment of Museums: The Case of Cirta Museum, while Maha Alessa, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait, spoke of Foreseeing the Future Possible Relations of the Museum and the City.
Meanwhile, Aristoteles Sakellariou, head of Conservation at Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar (MIA), and Georgios Papaioannou, both from Ionian University in Greece, addressed Visualising the Museum: From Videogames to the Future.
The final day of the conference featured a session entitled, The Positionality of the Viewer: The Southern Scene and its Deconstructive Charge/Claim, moderated by Ayman A El-Desouky, DI, during which participants shed light on several topics, including Frozen Alive: The Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Arts in Marawi City, by Renan Laru-an from The Philippines; The Crisis of the Art School, by Aissa Deebi, director- Painting Printmaking Programme, VCUarts Qatar , and ‘How new realities and the Covid pandemic have inspired contemporary artists from the UAE and shaped global art viewers?’ by Sophie Kazan, honorary fellow at the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, UK.