In his lecture, UAE based writer and art collector Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi will be discussing the political undertones of iconic artworks of the 20th century in the Arab world. From the Baathist regimes of Syria and Iraq to Egypt’s pan-Arabism under Gamal Abdel Nasser, paintings and sculptures in addition to film and performance have been employed by various governments as a tool of soft power to propagate their policies to the public not only in their respective states but throughout the region and beyond. Despite this government patronage of the arts, many artists have chosen to challenge their authorities through their art practices. This talk is an attempt to shed light on an often neglected dimension in the modern history of the Arab world.
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi (@SultanAlQassemi) is a United Arab Emirates-based columnist whose articles have appeared in The Financial Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Room for Debate, Foreign Policy, Open Democracy, and The Globe and Mail, as well as other notable publications.
Al Qassemi is also a prominent commentator on Arab affairs on Twitter. Rising in prominence during the Arab Spring, his tweets became a major news source, rivalling the major news networks at the time, until TIME magazine listed him in the “140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011.”
Al Qassemi is an MIT Media Labs Director’s Fellow, and in 2014,Arabian Business placed Al Qassemi in its list of World’s 100 Most Powerful Arabs under the Thinkers category. He continues both to write and tweet about the Arab world both from his home in Sharjah, as well as while giving lectures internationally.
Al Qassemi is also the founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation, an independent initiative established to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region by building a prominent and publicly accessible art collection in the United Arab Emirates. Barjeel Art Foundation currently has exhibitions at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, and the Whitechapel Gallery in London.
Professor Toby Dodge is Director of the LSE Middle East Centre, a Professor in the International Relations Department at LSE, and a Senior Consulting Fellow for the Middle East, International Institute for Strategic Studies, London.
The Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States is a ten year multidisciplinary global research programme.
Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEKuwait
Podcast & Video
A podcast and video of this event is available to download from Politics in Modern Arab Art
Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.
A copy of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi's PowerPoint is availalbe to download:
Politics in Modern Arab Art (pdf)