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Symposium/ Subversion

The New Arab: Art and Culture in the ‘Imagined’ Arab World

Chaired by Omar Kholeif

This focused symposium grants a rare opportunity to hear from global experts on the arts and culture in the Arab world who will explore recent developments in the region’s contemporary art scene. Using Subversion as a starting point, guests and speakers are invited to consider parallels between irony and politics, history and representation in both the mass media and within a dissenting visual culture. Through lively debate, performance, and a series of provocations, we aim to consider art’s inherent power to mould, subvert and provoke a cultural dialogue.


11:00/ New Modernities for Visual Arts and Culture in the Arab World

Malu Halasa is a founding editor of Tank Magazine, and Portal 9 journal of art, literature and the city.  She will be joined by Hanan Toukan (PhD, SOAS) who will discuss the notion of the subversive in contemporary cultural production from Lebanon and how the term is appropriated in the art world.

12.30 – 1.30

Break for lunch (not provided in ticket cost)

13:30/ The Imagined

Internationally renowned artist Judith Barry who recently completed a decade-long project entitled …Cairo stories, will lead a discussion that considers post-colonial approaches to art from the Arab world. Judith Barry will be joined in conversation by Professor Jean Fisher, one of the leading international figures of post-colonial theory and criticism in relation to the visual arts, who makes a rare appearance in Manchester.

14:30/ In Conversation 

Noreen Abu Oun, Executive Director of the Arab British Centre in London will join us in conversation with Subversion Curator Omar Kholeif and Curator Amal Khalaf, who is Assistant Curator of the Edgware Road Project. They will discuss constructions of artistic and cultural communities in the UK.

15:30/ Writing and Re-writing Histories

Eyad Houssami and Marwa Arsanios will seek to subvert expectations as they assess what is thought to be known about this region of the globe compared to what is actually experienced by the citizens themselves.