Search archive

Platform for discussion001

What do we need to know about the MENA region today?

Ursula Biemann and Shuruq Harb
1 June 2011


Artterritories.net, activating interview trails on art and visual culture in the Middle East
Artterritories.net, activating interview trails on art and visual culture in the Middle East

When we began our research into the current art landscape of the Middle East, we noticed various reasons why the bonds between regional art communities are weakened. Prevailing art discourses are largely externally driven; the way in which art is circulated, marketed and publicised doesn't respond in any significant way to the conditions and needs of the artists in the region; curatorial selection criteria favour individualized production easily resulting in a competitive climate; young artists prefer an education abroad, rather than in other Arab countries; and mobility between distant regional art centres is generally impeded.


With the social and political restructuring of Arab societies, many initiatives for building strong civil networks and institutions are bound to emerge now. What's most needed at this point is the strengthening of direct dialogue among artists that will lay the grounds for a discourse on art and visual cultural from the bottom up. We need platforms where artists can speak their mind about foreign investment in the arts, national cultural politics, massive institution building, their relation to the international art industry, and their needs for de-centred and revised histories. All these are vital structures underscoring art production and the sharing of ideas.

Ursula Biemann and Shuruq Harb

are Founding Co-editors of ArtTerritories.

of 36

Back to platform responses

What is a platform?

A platform is a space for speaking in public. It is an opportunity to express ideas and thoughts. It also suggests the formal declaration of a stance or position on any given subject.

Unique to Ibraaz is a 'platform', a question put to writers, thinkers and artists about an issue relevant to the MENA region. This platform is sent to respondents both within and beyond the MENA region and contributions will be archived every 12 months.