Language in the Arts--Presence and Future, Part II: Art and Writing in the Arab Countries, Iran and North Africa

We have lived in different cultures. We have seen cultural developments.

We are facing cultural competition and in times a cultural clash. While we think and speak, we use languages. We try to approach its symbols. The Art of Writing Collection spans three cultures. It comprises contemporary art from East Asia, the Arab countries including Iran and North Africa, and the West. It focuses on the nexus of writing, drawing and painting since the early 1950s.

Great cultural achievements in East Asia, the Arab countries and The West have often arisen from crisis and controversy. Would China today be the same without Mao Zedong? Would Europe today be the same without World War 11? Would the United States today be the same without the Civil War? Has the so-called Arab Spring influenced politics and culture in the Arab countries, including Iran and North Africa?

Currently the political and economic gaps between Western Nations, East Asia, the Arab World and Iran seem to be widening again. The voices of those who portray cultures different from their own as being evil are getting louder. It is often the artists who are doing the work of reflection, who are building the necessary cultural bridges for understanding the other party. They find inspiration in “foreign” cultures and admire different traditions and expressions in art. They show us how to communicate. The Art of Writing Collection focuses on artists whose work allows cultures and values that are different from ours to inspire and educate us—thus promoting a peaceful exchange. It was during the 55th International Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia in 2013 that Lawrence Weiner’s work “The Grace Of A Gesture”, translated into ten major languages and placed in groups of two on the Vaporetti boats cruising the Canale Grande, created this kind of communication the Written Art Foundation wants to support.

In 2015, the Written Art Foundation and the Art of Writing Collection were grateful to Jenny Holzer for an extraordinary achievement to exhibit her “War Paintings” as a “collateral event” during the 56th International Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia.

In 2014 and 2016, the Written Art Foundation was and is proud and happy to collaborate with the Fondation Hartung Bergman in Antibes on a symposium dedicated to “Art of Writing”, first in the Far Eastern countries in 2014 and now in the Arab Countries, Iran and North Africa.

  • Thomas Schlesser, Director of the Fondation Hartung Bergman
  • Ralf J. Radlanski, President of the Written Art Foundation, welcome all participants during a lunch 1:30 pm
  • Bernard Derderian, Curator of the Fondation Hartung Bergman
  • David J. Roxburgh, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Professor of Islamic Art History, Harvard University "The Ideas of Written Art in Islamic Art History"
  • Alya Sebti, Director of the IFA Gallery, Berlin (formerly Director of the Marrakech Biennale, Morocco) "A North African Perspective on Contemporary Art of Writing"
  • Kwok Kian Chow, Writer, Curator and Museum Consultant, Singapore (formerly Director of the Singapore Art Museum and National Gallery, Singapore) "Rethinking Genres: The Fate of Writing as Art in Modernity"
  • Slavs and Tatars, Artists, Berlin “The Tranny Tease”
  • Shirin Neshat, Artist, New York “An Art of Allegories”.
  • Catherine David, Art Historian and Curator, Deputy Director of the Musée national d'art moderne/Centre Pompidou "Poetry, text and letters in Modern Arab art"
  • Thomas Kellein, Art Historian, Writer, Curator and Art Advisor, Berlin "A Tortured and a Peaceful World. How to Discover and Evaluate the Art of Writing in the Islamic World"