online - talk
Iraq and the Genesis of “Contemporary Art from the Middle East”
Rijin Sahakian

Wednesday 27 October 2021
7 pm Amman Time

As defined by capital, cultural and military supremacy, power casts its dominance with a wide net of psychological operations. It holds the tools and capacities to create social and artistic "movements" that perpetuate its images and narratives while minimizing and dramatically limiting others that might challenge its hold. In this talk, Rijin Sahakian will discuss how film, exhibitions, and writing on culture have acted as a form of psyops since the invasion of Iraq and its genesis of the contemporary Middle East art market, examining how thirty years of U.S. and Coalition-led wars in Iraq have permanently reconfigured populations, cultural values, technology, formations of resistance and visual culture. Consequently, her research also considers the structures of global contemporary art world systems and how they have aligned with, or are simply embedded into, military systems and their world-ending agendas. Do we need to look beyond capitalism, or rather move away from the sites where wars have been waged from to the sites they have been waged on? 

The talk is part of the Worldbuilding in the Wake monthly series curated by Kareem Estefan.

Rijin Sahakian received her M.A. in Cultural Policy from New York University and founded Sada, a virtual and physically convened arts education project for Baghdad-based art students, which she directed until its closure in spring 2015. She has conducted seminars and programs at arts and education spaces in the U.S. and abroad, including at the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, where she guest-curated the exhibition "Shangri La: Imagined Cities" and served as visiting professor at the California Institute of the Arts. Sahakian has contributed writing to a range of artist projects, and publications including Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, Future Imperfect, Hyperallergic, Warscapes, e-flux journal, and n+1. Her work centers Iraq as the site where global power has been deployed, visualized, and accelerated for the 21st century. 

Moderated by Kareem Estefan. The talk will be in English.