There is between word and picture a visible sensuous relationship and an intelligible spiritual marriage.
—Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabi, Arab Muslim mystic, 1165-1240 AD (Andalusia)
In her talk, Reading Art in Literature of the Arab World, Salwa Mikdadi focuses on poetry as still being the most popular art form in the Arab world, and where oral traditions continue to dominate, even over popular culture.
In the last 50 years new art forms have emerged that employ cursive Arab writing with images, creating new aesthetics marrying the visual with the written word. By tracking a lineage of Arab artists who integrate literature, from the classical and post-modern to the current vernacular in bringing wider audiences to their work, Mikdadi also draws parallels and bridges the common concerns between contemporary literature and conceptual art.
Salwa Mikdadi is Visiting Associate Professor of Art History, New York University Abu Dhabi and consultant to Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority where she established the first professional development programme for museum professionals. Her research on modern and contemporary art of the Arab world spans over thirty-five years, focusing on art production and non-profit organisations, gender and politics in art, and museums and their visitors. Mikdadi was co-editor of New Vision: Arab Contemporary Art of the 21st Century (2009), among other publications. She wrote the reference guide on the history of the 20th century art of West Asia, North Africa and Egypt for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline web pages. Mikdadi was Co-Founder and Director of the Cultural & Visual Arts Resource/ICWA (1989-2006), one of the first non-profit organisations dedicated to promoting Arab art in the United States (1988-2006). In 2009, Mikdadi curated the first Palestinian collateral exhibition at the Venice Biennial.