Lecture with Omar Kholeif: “Whose Gaze Is It Anyway? Debating Revolutionary Politics After the Internet”


Wednesday, September 28, 2016, 7pm

Hunter MFA Studios 

205 Hudson Street, second floor

Entrance on Canal Street

New York


The Hunter College Department of Art and Art History is pleased to announce a public lecture by Dr. Omar Kholeif, Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at 7pm at Hunter’s MFA Studios, 205 Hudson Street in Tribeca, in Manhattan.

In his talk, Dr. Kholeif, the Fall 2016 Foundation To-Life, Inc. Arthur and Carol Kaufman Goldberg Visiting Curator, reflects on image making in and around the Arab world. Using this context as a starting point, he pursues a broader discussion about how visual culture is shifting in what is arguably now a post-digital age: how was the euphoric language around endless springs co-opted and transformed into a fleeting form of soft power? How was the shape of images transformed through the digital distribution mechanisms of the internet? How did artists and cultural practitioners respond to this evolving, “revolutionary” culture? Tracing a genealogy of image making, Kholeif proposes a speculative manifesto that considers the often emotional relationship between politics and the visual culture it produces.

Widely considered one of the world’s leading specialists of modern and contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa as well as contemporary art and technology, Dr. Omar Kholeif is the Manilow Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. His curatorial work has focused on the intersection of politics, narrative and geography, for an increasingly hyperlinked world. Prior to his appointment at MCA Chicago, Kholeif was Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery, London; Senior Curator at Cornerhouse and HOME, Manchester; Senior Editor of Ibraaz Publishing; Head of Art and Technology at SPACE, London; Curator at FACT, Liverpool; Artistic Director, Arab British Centre, London, and founding director of the UK’s Arab Film Festival. 

Kholeif has curated or co-curated over one hundred exhibitions, commissions, and special projects including the Cyprus Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, the Abraaj Group Art Prize, the Liverpool Biennial, and “Focus: Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean” at the Armory Show, New York. He is author or editor of over 20 books including You Are Here: Art After the Internet (2014), Moving Image (2015), The Rumors of the World: Re-thinking Trust in the Age of the Internet (2015), and Electronic Superhighway: From Experiments in Art and Technology to Art After the Internet (2016). His work has been published widely in a variety of venues, including The Guardian, Art Monthly, Wired, Mousse, frieze, and Camera Austria for which he writes a quarterly column. Kholeif is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Churchill Fellow, and a member of AICA, the International Association of Art Critics.

The Foundation To-Life, Inc. Arthur and Carol Kaufman Goldberg Curatorial Workshops are designed to bring curators of international stature to the Hunter campus to work with students in the MA program in Art History and the MFA program in Studio Art for an extended period of time. During his residency at Hunter this semester, Dr. Kholeif will lead a seminar on the theme of “Expanding the Field of Exhibition Making,” and meet with students individually and in small groups. The Foundation To-Life Curatorial Workshop program recognizes the curatorial interests and ambitions of Hunter students and the Hunter College Art Galleries’ longstanding commitment to exhibitions whose themes, theses, and checklists have been developed and honed by our students. In the past few years, faculty-initiated, seminar-based exhibitions have included Critical Gestures/Contested Spaces: French Art and Politics in the 1960s and Boundless Reality: Traveler Artists’ Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (both 2016), Open Work in Latin America, New York & Beyond: Conceptualism Reconsidered 1967-1978 (2013), Peripheral Visions: Italian Photography in Context, 1950s-Present (2012), and Objects of Devotion and Desire: Medieval Relic to Contemporary Art (2011).