Artists Reflect on Contemporary International Art
With the popularity of Middle Eastern art increasing, several mainstream art publications, including ARTnews, Art Forum and Art in America, have given extensive coverage to art exhibitions in which Middle Eastern artists are represented. Yet little is known about the developments of this art within mainstream discourse. In fact, outside the region, few art historical examinations include discussions of the evolution of modern and contemporary art of the Middle East and its diaspora. This remains highly problematic, as countless exhibitions claim to present audiences with a glimpse into this specific visual culture. A lack of information and understanding frequently allows for the omission of serious aesthetic and conceptual analysis, limiting artists and their work to restrictive categorizations often based on “ethnic” identifications. Such deficiencies in curatorial practice narrowly define the parameters in which the impact of artists is realized in the global art scene since the discourse that results from these exhibitions influences how the art is discussed elsewhere.
In our ongoing efforts to offer critical commentary on the cultural and artistic productions of the Middle East and its diaspora, ArteNews has invited several visual artists to participate in a quarterly feature devoted to examining the current state of contemporary international art. Inspired by late writer and curator Katharine Kuh’s 1960s interviews with seventeen European and American modern artists (such as Marcel Duchamp, Stuart Davis, Georgia O’Keefe and Joseph Albers) (1), five questions were posed to artists of diverse creative backgrounds. By presenting artists with questions concerning the global art scene and their readings of, and individual contributions to, contemporary art, we aim to highlight the breadth of Middle Eastern art. We anticipate that readers will regard this as a unique opportunity to become conversant with the varied experiences and opinions of individuals shaping art today. In short, this special issue intends to underscore how Middle Eastern artists fit in the realm of international art and art history.
1. Kuh, Katherine. 1962. “The Artist’s Voice: Talks with Seventeen Modern Artists; Harper & Row: New York