Past Disquiet: Artists, International Solidarity and Museums in Exile

The ‘International Art Exhibition for Palestine’ took place in Beirut in 1978 and mobilised international networks of artists around the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial movements of the time. The investigation around this exhibition led to untold histories of other ‘museums in exile’, contemporary to the exhibition in Beirut, such the International Museum of Resistance Salvador Allende, Art Contre/Against Apartheid, and Art for the People of Nicaragua. Reconstructing these stories traced complex and intersecting networks of politically engaged artists mobilised around other struggles against the ongoing war in Vietnam, the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, and the apartheid regime in South Africa. Starting with Palestine and ending up expanding to the rest of the world, the ‘Past Disquiet’ project displayed this research primarily through a documentary and archival exhibition as well as related publication which opens-up marginalised histories of networks of transnational solidarity in the arts.

The publication Past Disquiet: Artists, International Solidarity and Museums in Exile, edited by Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salti, brings together contributions from scholars, curators and writers reflecting on these marginalised histories and undertakings that took place in Baghdad, Beirut, Belgrade, Damascus, Paris, Rabat, Tokyo, and Warsaw. The book also offers translations of primary texts and recent interviews with some of the figures involved.

Writer and researcher, Kristine Khouri will be speaking on the wider ‘Past Disquiet’ exhibition project, the materials and networks generated through her research with Rasha Salti, and the varied contributions to the publication. Following her talk, she will be joined in conversation by Nada Raza curator and Artistic Director of the Ishara Art Foundation, to discuss broader questions around histories of transnational solidarity in the arts and their contemporary resonances.

Kristine Khouri is an independent researcher and writer whose research interests focus on the history of arts circulation and infrastructure in the Arab world, and archival practises and dissemination. Khouri is a member of the board of the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut. Together with Rasha Salti she initiated ‘Past Disquiet’ a long-term research project which began in 2008 and was transformed into a documentary and archival exhibition, and co-edited the publication, Past Disquiet: Artists, International Solidarity, and Museums in Exile published by the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw (2018).  Khouri and Salti are co-founders of the History of Arab Modernities in the Visual Arts Study Group, a research platform focussed around the social history of art in the Arab world.

 Nada Raza is Artistic Director of the Ishara Art Foundation. She was previously Research Curator at Tate Research Centre: Asia, with a particular focus on South Asia. She contributed to the exhibitions Meschac Gaba: Museum of Contemporary African Art in 2013 and co-curated Bhupen Khakhar: You Can’t Please All in 2016. Alongside collection building and supervising research projects and events, she worked on displays of work by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, Zarina Hashmi, Sheela Gowda, Amar Kanwar and Mrinalini Mukherjee. Raza was guest curator of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize in 2014 and invited to curate a thematic exhibition, The Missing One, for the Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh and the Office for Contemporary Art in Norway in 2016. Raza previously worked on international art at Iniva and at Green Cardamom in London, maintaining close links in the MENASA region. She holds an MA from the Chelsea College of Art and Design and is a doctoral candidate at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

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