Due to unforeseen circumstances, Rasha Salti is unable to participate, but the programme will proceed with Kristine Khouri.
The 1978 ‘International Art Exhibition for Palestine’, organised by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), comprised of almost 200 works from nearly 30 countries and remains one of the largest exhibitions held in the Arab world. The exhibition was intended as the seed collection for a museum in exile to tour worldwide until it could ‘repatriate’ to Palestine. Tragically, the works and the exhibition’s archive were destroyed during the 1982 Israeli siege of Beirut.
The research to reconstruct its narrative began with a copy of the exhibition catalogue that listed artists and acknowledged people and institutions whose support made it possible. ‘Past Disquiet: Narratives and Ghosts from the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978’, curated by Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti, was the archival and documentary exhibition centred on this research. Using recorded testimonies and private archives, the exhibition uncovered a previously unexplored and complicated network of affiliations that linked militant artists across the world in the context of the Cold War. Its attempt to construct a speculative history of the PLO initiative and equivalent practices of the 1970s aimed to interrogate exhibition history and the historiography of artistic practice. It also addressed the problematics of oral history, the trappings of memory, and writing history in the absence of effective archives.
Khouri and Salti’s talk focuses on their methodology of research—which was closer to detective work—and how it was transformed into an exhibition format that restaged the movements of their forensic process. The outcome of the research was an eclectic repository of stories and anecdotes, as well as digital copies of documents, images, film footage, and edited video documents.
A conversation with AAA Researcher Michelle Wong and a Q&A session to follow.
The AAA Library will extend its hours to 8:30pm for the talk. Participants are welcome to view Wong Wai Yin's current exhibition 'Talking Archive' in the Library.
Kristine Khouri is an independent researcher and writer based in Beirut. Her research examines the history of arts circulation and infrastructure in the Arab world. She curated ‘The Founding Years (1969–1973): A Selection of Works from the Sultan Gallery Archives’ (2012) at the Sultan Gallery, and contributed as a writer to several publications, including Bidoun, ArtAsiaPacific Almanac, and Global Art Forum 6. She was a section editor for the publication accompanying the exhibition ‘The Time is Out of Joint’ (2016) at the Sharjah Art Foundation.
Rasha Salti is a writer, researcher, and curator of art and film based in Beirut. She co-curated a number of film programmes including The Road to Damascus with Richard Peña (2006), and Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s until Now with Jytte Jensen (2010–2012) showcased at the MoMA, New York. In 2011, she was a co-curator of the 10th edition of the Sharjah Biennial for the Arts. Salti also edited a number of books including Beirut Bereft: The Architecture of the Forsaken and the Map of the Derelict (2009).
Khouri and Salti are the founders of the History of Arab Modernities in the Visual Arts Study Group, a research platform focused around the social history of art in the Arab world. Their current research concentrates on the history of the ‘International Art Exhibition for Palestine’ (1978), which transformed into the exhibition ‘Past Disquiet: Narratives and Ghosts of the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978’ (Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, 2015; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 2016).