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The Egyptian Surrealists in Global Perspective

In collaboration with the Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University and the Visual Cultures Program at the American University in Cairo (AUC), Sharjah Art Foundation will be organising an international conference entitled The Egyptian Surrealists in Global Perspective, from November 26 – 28, 2015.

Focusing on the history and the evolution of the Egyptian Surrealist group and their relationship with their western and international counterparts, this project will document one of the most interesting chapters of modernism in the late 1930s up to the early 1960s, highlighting the multifaceted aspects of modernity and its global interconnectedness in the 20th century.

The conference will be followed by a travelling exhibition entitled When Arts Become Liberty: The Egyptian Surrealists (1938-1965) to be inaugurated at Sharjah Art Foundation in 2017 in Sharjah, UAE, followed by an exhibition in Cairo, Egypt.

A two-volume publication will follow the conference with the first to accompany the exhibition and the second to serve as the catalogue of the proposed exhibition.

 

The Conference and Curatorial Team include:

  • Hoor Al Qasimi (Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE)
  • Salah M. Hassan (Cornell University, USA)
  • Bahia Shehab (American University in Cairo, Egypt)
  • Ehab Ellabban (Ofok Gallery, Cairo, Egypt)
  • Nagla Samir (American University in Cairo, Egypt)
  • Lydie Diakhate (Paris, France)

 

 

 

26 November

4:00 PM – 4:30 PM • Opening Session

Bahia Shehab, Director, Visual Cultures Program, AUC – Welcoming Remarks

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President, Sharjah Art Foundation – Welcoming Remarks

Salah M. Hassan, Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), Cornell University – Introductory Remarks

 

4:30 PM – 5:15 PM • Key Presentation I

Moderator: Ehab Ellabban, Curator, Artist and Director, Horizon Gallery (Ufuq), Cairo, Egypt

Emad Abu Ghazi, Professor, Archival Studies, Department of Libraries, Archives and Information Science, Cairo University

"The Time of the Surrealists in Egypt: An Historical Background"

 

5:15 PM – 6:00 PM • Key Presentation II

Samir Gharib, Journalist, Art Critic and Writer, Cairo, Egypt

"The Tragedies of Surrealism in Egypt: Part of a Personal Testimony"

Discussant: Salah M. Hassan, Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), Cornell University

27 November

9:00 AM – 11:00 AM •Mining the Archives: Egyptian Surrealism in Historical Context

Moderator: Nagla Samir, Associate Professor, Visual Cultures Program, Art Department, American University in Cairo, Curator and Artist, Egypt

Patrick Kane, Instructor, History and Liberal Studies, Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology, Sharjah, UAE

"Egyptian Surrealism and Modern Egyptian History"

Hisham Geshta, Literary and Art Critic, Editor, Al Kitabah Al Ukhra, Cairo, Egypt

"Reading Al Tatawur Retrospectively: The Surrealist Publications and their Relevance for Our Times"

Discussant: Amina Diab, Art Historian, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History of Art, University of York, UK

 

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM • Key Presentation III

Moderator: Adel Elsiwi, Artist, Art Critic and Translator, Cairo, Egypt

Bachir El Sibaei, Poet, Historian and Translator, Cairo, Egypt

"Georges Henein: A Model of an Egyptian Surrealist"

Discussant: Hala Halim, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, New York University, USA

 

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM • Thinking Comparatively: Other Surrealisms/Global Expressions

(Part I)

Moderator: Malek Khouri, Professor, Film Studies, Department of the Arts, American University in Cairo, Egypt

Clare Davies, Art Historian, Assistant Curator, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA

"'Orient, lovely bird of prey and innocence'": Egyptian Surrealism in the Orient/Occident Debate"

Didier Monciaud, Associate Research Fellow, GREMAMO (Groupe de recherche sur le Maghreb et le Moyen Orient), University Diderot Paris VI, Paris, France

"The Political Agenda of the Egyptian Surrealists: Issues on Radical Outlook and Anti-Stalinist Marxism of a Cosmopolitan Network in a Colonial Context (Late 1930s – Mid 1940s)"

Monique Bellan, Researcher, Contemporary Art and Theatre, The Orient-Institut Beirut, Lebanon

"Defying Reality: Surrealism in Cairo and Beirut"

Discussant: Alexandra Seggerman, Five College Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Islamic Art, Smith College and Hampshire Colleges, USA

 

3:30PM – 5:30 PM • Thinking Comparatively: Other Surrealisms/Global Expressions (Part II)

Moderator: Monique Bellan, Researcher, Contemporary Art and Theatre, The Orient-Institut Beirut, Lebanon

Terri Geis, Curator of Academic Programs at the Pomona College Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California.

"'This is the House of the Sphinx': Leonora Carrington and Edward James in Mexico"

Gerard Aching, Professor of Africana and Romance Studies, Director of the Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University.

"In Legitimate Defense: Surrealism, Communism, and Their Discontents in France"

Manthia Diawara, Distinguished Professor, Film and Comparative Literature, New York University, USA

"Between Surrealism and the Marvelous Realism: Caribbean Dialogues"

Discussant: Didier Monciaud, Historian, Associate Research Fellow, GREMAMO (Groupe de recherche sur le Maghreb et le Moyen Orient), University Diderot Paris VI, Paris, France

 

5:45 PM – 7:45 PM • Egyptian Surrealism: Philosophy, Aesthetics and the Modernist Experience in Egyptian Art

Moderator: Jean Colombain, Independent Researcher, Publisher and Archivist, Paris, France

Alexandra Seggerman, Five College Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Islamic Art, Smith College and Hampshire Colleges, USA

"The 'Beautiful Black Cloud' of Egyptian Modern Art"

May Telmissany, Associate Professor, Cinema and Arabic Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada

"Destabilizing Modernity, Kamel Telmisany's Surrealist Unrest"

Amina Diab, Art Historian, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History of Art, University of York, UK

"'Free Art' and Surrealist Aesthetics: Re-situating Jama'at Al-Fann Wal-Hurriya in Egyptian Art History"

Discussant: Patrick Kane, Instructor, History and Liberal Studies, Sharjah Higher Colleges of Technology, Sharjah, UAE

28 November

9:30 AM – 11:30 AM • Egyptian Surrealism: Photography and the Cinematic Expression

Moderator: Amina Diab, Art Historian, Doctoral Candidate, Department of History of Art, University of York, UK

Malek Khouri, Professor, Film Studies, Department of the Arts, American University in Cairo, Egypt

"Surrealist Nuance and Postcolonial Subjectivity: Youssef Chahine's Alexandria, Again and Again"

Mohsen Wify, Film Historian, Critic and Translator, Cairo, Egypt

"The Cinema of Kamil El Tlimsany and the Petite Bourgeoisie"

Maria Golia, Writer and Critic, Cairo, Egypt

"Notes on Photography: Egypt and the Surreal"

Discussant: May Telmissany, Associate Professor, Cinema and Arabic Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada

 

11:45 AM – 1:45 PM • Egyptian Surrealism: Critical and Literary Perspectives

Moderator: Bahia Shehab, Associate Professor of Practice, Director of Visual Studies Program, Department of Art, American University in Cairo, Egypt

Mona Khazindar, Historian, Curator, Literary Critic, and Former Director, Institute of the Arab World, Paris, France

"Georges Henein, the Herald of Surrealism in Egypt"

Hala Halim, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies, New York University, USA

"Afterlife of Egyptian Surrealism: Edwar al-Kharrat's Texts and the So-called Alexandrian School"

Michael Richardson, Professor of Cultural Studies, Goldsmith College, London, UK

"Surrealist engagements with ancient Egypt: 'Osiris is a Black'"

Discussant: Clare Davies, Art Historian, Curator, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA

 

3:30 PM – 5:30 PM • Individual Artistic Perspectives: On Egyptian Surrealism

Jean Colombain, Independent Researcher, Publisher and Archivist, Paris, France

"Ramsès Younan and Surrealism: From a Password to a Rubber Ball"

Adel Elsiwi, Artist, Art Critic and Translator, Cairo, Egypt

"The Egyptian Surrealists: A Contemporary Egyptian Artist's Perspective"

Salah M. Hassan, Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), Cornell University

"Egyptian Surrealism's Time Capsule: Kamal Youssef as Witness"

Discussant: Bahia Shehab, Director, Visual Cultures Program, Department of the Arts, AUC, Egypt

 

6:30 PM – 7:00 PM • Closing Remarks

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President, Sharjah Art Foundation

Salah M. Hassan, Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), Cornell University