Nisa Ari

MIT, Cambridge, MA.

Nisa Ari is a Ph.D candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Cultural Mandates: Art and Political Parity in Early Twentieth Century Palestine

"My dissertation investigates how the complex set of political forces impacting Palestine in the early twentieth century played a determining role in the formation of the field of Palestinian art. The rise of an inter-related system of art practices and exhibition spaces from the final decades of the Ottoman Empire to the nakba (1876-1948) occurred against a political landscape marked by the dissolution of a ruling Muslim majority, the rise of Zionism, the First World War, British military and colonial occupation, and the growth of Arab nationalism. The dissertation explores how a nascent art world in Palestine formed within and in response to these forces, and was co-produced by local artists, immigrant practitioners, and international agents. I examine the work of Palestinian artists including Nicola Saig, Khalil Halabi, Zulfa al-Saadi, Tawfiq Jawharriyeh, Daoud Zalatimo, Sophie Halaby, Zakariah Abu Fheleh, and Jamal Badran in this context, revealing previously overlooked connections between their practices and the changing infrastructure for the visual arts emerging around them. While “Palestinian art” describes a concept largely unspoken prior to 1948, my dissertation studies how early twentieth century art production in Palestine formulated many of the historically distinctive preoccupations, practices, and modes of circulation that marked this later artistic field."

- Nisa Ari, 2o17.