An Archeology of Visual Identity: The History of the UAE Visual Identity in the Formative Years (1965 - 1975)
Jack Persekian, Nadia Mounajjed, Sharmeen Syed - Sharjah Art Foundation
Radisson Habiba Hall
An Archaeology of Visual Identity grew from the impetus of Sharjah Art Foundation to become not just a recipient and platform for artists and practitioners, but also a producer of knowledge. With a void in research on visual culture in the UAE since its formation, the project has focused on the years between 1965 and 1975 and aims to put in place the tools and mechanisms to support research into local visual identity, without prescribing a fixed outcome.
How did visual identity emerge in the UAE? What were the different tools used by the Emiratis to distinguish themselves and their culture from other nations? How did visual culture express the specificity, values, ambitions and characteristics of this place? And what are the symbolic meanings behind this expression? This presentation will introduce a new research project initiated by Sharjah Art Foundation that focuses on the construction of visual identity in the United Arab Emirates during the formative years from 1965 to 1975. This period is particularly interesting as it captures the conditions that surrounded the moment of independence and how visual identity was first shaped. The discussion will be framed within a socio-cultural, economic and political context. We will share some observations based on materials and cultural elements that were used at the time, from flags to stamps, currencies, dress codes, accessories, oral accounts and photographs.
Jack Persekian is the former Director of Sharjah Art Foundation. He is Founder and Director of Anadiel Gallery, the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem and XEIN Productions. Persekian’s recently curated exhibitions include “Disorientation II: the Rise and Fall of Arab Cities,” Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi (2009); “Dubai Next,” co-curated with Rem Koolhaas at Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany (2008) and “The Jerusalem Show,” Al-Ma’mal Foundation, Jerusalem (2007-10). A writer and lecturer on Middle Eastern art and culture, he has also directed and produced a series of short films and videos, including Sharjah Biennial 9 (2009), Forgive and Forget (2008) and My Son (2005).
Nadia Mounajjed was trained as an architect in Damascus. She holds a PhD in Architecture from the University of Sheffield, and an MA in Architectural Design from University College London. Her research focuses on the social and the individual in architecture. Mounajjed is currently Assistant Professor of Architecture at the American University of Sharjah. She is also the Research Advisor for Sharjah Art Foundation.
Sharmeen Syed studied Architecture and Urban Design at the American University of Sharjah and is currently working as Architect and Researcher at Sharjah Art Foundation. She is part of the Architecture and Design team for Sharjah Art Foundation Art Spaces Project and Sharjah Biennial 10 and is a researcher for the UAE visual identity project.
Subjects: Sharjah Art Foundation