Happy New Year! In Arabic: a usual Gulf Arabic greetings for New year and main festivals.

Happy New Year!
In Arabic: a usual Gulf Arabic greetings for New year and main festivals.

Dear readers,

Before it is too late, I wish you all a happy 2015!

As expected, 2014 was a busy year. I have been busy with the achievement of two of my main projects: the Ras Ghimb castle in Gondar and the Department of Paleontology at the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. There were many other projects in 2014 at the French Center for Ethiopian Studies such as the First Conference of Islamic Manuscripts held on March,  the publication of the Ethiopian CityGuides, etc.  Read the rest of this entry »

The newest of the Louvre galleries has opened this week: Islamic Art is now displayed in a marvel of architecture. Does Display (re)invent Islamic Art? This article examines how Islamic Art as an academic field was invented at the turn of the 20th century as it was being exhibited  in Paris, Munich or London. It analyses the French connection in the invention of Islamic art and reflects on the political meaning of exhibiting Islamic Art in a post-9/11 context and the Orientalist tradition: unveiling the Louvre veil on Islamic art.

The first islamic Art display at the Louvre: Delort de Gléon room, Pavillon de l’horloge, 1921

That article was published (in French) in Qantara, the cultural magazine of the Institut du Monde Arabe (Paris), #82, winter 2012. The issue was dedicated to the Invention of Islamic Art.

Musée du Louvre, Department of Islamic Art, Mario Bellini & Rudy Ricciott architects, 2012

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Is Islamic Art a Western invention? I open with this article a series of articles I’ve published this year on the invention of Islamic Art. It comes in line with the reopening of departments of Islamic Art a the Metropolitan  in November 2011 and at the Louvre expected in 2012. It leads to a reflection on the Orientalist tradition and the political meaning of exhibiting Islamic Art.

Poster & Matiss

Poster of "Meisterwerke muhammedanischer Kunst" exhibition, Munich, 1910, photo:DR. // Matisse and friends at the Oktoberfest, Munich 1910, DR.

Are contemporary exhibitions/museums of Islamic Art embedded in a century old Orientalist tradition?
Here’s a book review – published on Studia Islamica, 2011, 2 – of Avinoam Shalem & Andrea Lermer’s After One Hundred Years that celebrated the 100 years of the exhibition ‘Meisterwerk muhammedanischer Kunst’held in Munich in 1910. The aim of the organisers the Munich 1910 exhibition was to break up with Orientalism by linking Oriental Art to Modernism. The exhibition entered history that way with Matisse among other avant-garde artists visiting it. This book examines the heritage of this amazing exhibition considered as a major landmark in Islamic Art studies. This book review offers a chance to reflect on the history of exhibitions as a research topic. It also raises questions on the contemporary exhibitions of Islamic Art in the public space and their political discontent. Is exhibiting Islamic Art political? As more museums are being opened, the orientalist tradition raises under the cover of a so-called  Islamophilia supposed the counter post 9/11 islamophobia.

After one hundred years: the 1910 exhibition ‘Meisterwerk muhammedanischer Kunst’ reconsidered’, Andrea Lermer and Avinoam Shalem, Leyde, Brill, 2010, 401 p. Read the rest of this entry »

Whose Pharaohs?

June 6, 2009

Article publié in Qantara, 62, Janvier 2007 et partiellement reproduit (sans autorisation dans La nouvelle République d’Alger, 18 septembre 2007)

Temple de Karnak (ca. 1870)

Temple de Karnak (ca. 1870)

De l’appropriation du patrimoine préislamique dans le monde arabe.

Le 5 avril 2003, tandis que les forces américaines entraient dans Bagdad, les media annonçaient le pillage du Musée Iraqien et la disparition de 170 000 pièces d’antiquités. La réaction internationale condamnait alors avec la perte irrémédiable de collections d’objets assyriens, babyloniens, etc. la destruction d’un patrimoine de l’humanité. Les Irakiens pour leur part dénonçaient la destruction de leur patrimoine national[1]. Universel ou national ?

Sgt Lindsay posing with Nefertiti (1946) source: http://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/
Sgt Lindsay posing with Nefertiti (1946)

À qui appartiennent donc les antiquités assyriennes, babyloniennes en Iraq ou Syrie, pharaoniques en Égypte, phéniciennes au Liban, byzantines en Jordanie, mais aussi romaines, berbères en Algérie, Tunisie, Libye et au Maroc, ou “négro-africaine” au Soudan ou en Somalie ? Comment les témoignages matériels de l’époque préislamique, l’héritage de la jahilyya en quelque sorte, peuvent être intégrés aux constructions des nations modernes à dominante musulmane ? Bien qu’on constate que c’est avec une intensité fort différente que s’exercent les demandes de restitution des œuvres acquises illicitement et conservées aujourd’hui dans les musées occidentaux, les patrimoines préislamiques dans le monde arabe sont finalement devenus des objets de négociation pour les États contemporains. Patrimoine mondial, patrimoine national : ces antiquités appartiennent-elles aux dites nations ou au reste du monde ? Comment les antiquités préislamiques sont devenues des enjeux identitaires tant au niveau des nations que sur la scène internationale

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