Northwestern Events Calendar


MENA Monday: New Directions in MENA Series

When: Monday, June 1, 2015
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: University Hall, 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Katelyn Marie Rashid   (847) 467-5314

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Speaker: Dr. Talinn Grigor, Brandeis University
Associate Professor of Art History

Title: “Iranian or Not?” That Might Not Be the Question
Three decades after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, art critic Karim Emami’s question “What is ‘Iranian’ in their work?’ remains crucial to Iran’s modern art (history). It not only applies to Iran as a national matter, but also as a lingering postcolonial side effect going back to the nineteenth-century treaties with European powers. As then, now the intelligentsia, the agents of culture and their followers are at the center of change. Since then too, Iranian artists have carried the burden to define their production against the myth of a universal West in order not to be accused of mimicry; of being ‘copyists and faddists’, as Emami observed.

The art historian’s question pushes this further: why does the burden of distinction, of Derrida’s différance – of postponing the assessment of art-as-art as if to wait for its plug into the (neo)colonial network of aesthetic judgment – loom over art in Iran? Artists, intellectuals, and ordinary Iranians persistently assert that throughout its long history, Persia has been overran by all sorts of ‘barbarians’, but that Iranian collective identity has endured through a unique artistic heritage. In effect, for these commentators, this Persianate culture constitutes the core Iranian distinction. The tradition of Persian kingship, as an enduring institution and a patronage modus operandi, is vital to this sense of continuity. This paper looks at the work of selected artists, critics, curators, and patrons in an attempt to better understand the complex relationship between the production of modern art and the reproduction of Iranian identities.

Lunch Served

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