Art Alert: Cairo lecture explores contemporary Palestinian visual art in Israel

Ahram Online , Sunday 8 May 2016

The lecture will be delivered by professor Kiven Strohm, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at AUC

Installation by artist Nardeen Srouji titled E7tiqan (Injection), 2012. (Photo: Fragment from promotional material)

A lecture titled “Aesthetic Citizenship, or the Work of Palestinian Contemporary Visual Art in Israel” will take place at the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo (NVIC) on 26 May.

Professor Kiven Strohm, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the American University in Cairo, will explore the relationship “between the demand for equal citizenship and Palestinian contemporary visual art over the last decade," caused by "by redrawing the boundaries of citizenship,” the event description explained.

In the lecture, which is based on fieldwork conducted by Strohm in Palestine and Israel between 2009-2011, he recognises the contradiction that emanates from how Palestinians in Israel demand equal citizenship on one hand, yet also assert “their collective rights as an indigenous national minority, with a right to self-determination and autonomy” on the other hand.

“The trouble is that these two demands present a contradiction: In demanding equal citizenship from the settler colonial state, one de facto accepts the state, whereby renouncing certain claims that attain with one’s rights as an indigenous people. In short, it means accepting one’s status as a settler colonial citizen.”

Strohm looks at a form of "“aesthetic citizenship” that emerges in Palestinian art through the spaces it creates, arguing that “the openings and spaces offered in [this] notion of aesthetic citizenship have been obscured by an almost exclusive focus on citizenship as a legal status or practice, which foregrounds the rights and responsibilities of individuals at the expense of what is done in the name of citizenship, i.e., of how subjects constitute themselves as citizens.”

In doing so, Strohm aspires to show how contemporary Palestinian art “offers a political space for enacting citizenship… [and also] creates the conditions and spaces for the spectator – Palestinian and Jewish – to imagine alternative worlds and other possible ways of being and commonality.”

Thursday, 26 May, 6pm 
NVIC Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo, 1 Dr Mahmoud Azmi Street, Zamalek

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