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Seminar Revisiting International Solidarity: Artist Actions, Museums Without Walls, and Other Exhibition Histories September 5 – 6 in Helsinki

Revisiting International Solidarity: Artist Actions, Museums Without Walls, and Other Exhibition Histories. Two-day seminar with Rasha Salti.

Time: 5 & 6 September 2017, from 17:00 - 20:00 hrs. 

Place: at Kamari, Tehtaankatu 21, HKI-FI

Organized by Night Schoolers and Rab-Rab Press.

Night Schoolers and Rab-Rab Press are delighted to host researcher, writer and curator, Rasha Salti for two sessions focused on questions of marginal or unwritten histories that interrogate art historical canons, research methodologies, curatorial practice and the production of knowledge. More specifically, Salti will discuss the history of ‘museums in exile’ and the mobilisation of artists around the international anti-imperialist solidarity front in the 1960s and 1970s. The outcome of the research (which she still conducts with Kristine Khouri) has been presented as an archival and documentary exhibition, titled Past Disquiet, (also co-curated with Kristine Khouri) at the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) in 2015, and at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin in 2016. Salti will reflect on how Past Disquiet attempts to construct a speculative history of the international anti-imperialist solidarity movement’s engagement with the arts in the 1960s and 1970s. She will also address the problematic of writing historical narratives based on oral history, cognisant of the trappings of memory in the absence of institutional or accessible archives.

The International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine was inaugurated in Beirut, Lebanon, in March 1978, intended as the seed collection for a museum in exile. Inspired by the Museum of Resistance in Exile in Solidarity with Salvador Allende, the museum took the form of an itinerant exhibition that was meant to tour until it could "repatriate" to Palestine. Organized by  PLO, comprising almost 200 works, donated by 200 artists from nearly 30 countries, the exhibition remains one of the most ambitious, in scale and scope, to have ever been showcased in the Arab world until this day. Tragically, during the Israeli army's siege of Beirut in 1982, sustained shelling destroyed the building where the works were stored as well as the exhibition's archival and documentary traces.

Past Disquiet: Narratives and Ghosts from the International Art Exhibition for Palestine culls from the research Salti and Khouri have conducted for years, and revisits a recent but little-known past of politically engaged artistic practice and cultural diplomacy embedded in the international anti-imperialist left during the 1970s, mobilized around the struggle against the war in Vietnam, the Pinochet dictatorship, the Apartheid regime in South Africa and in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. 

Using recorded testimonies and private archives, the exhibition retraced the complicated mesh of networks of affiliation and solidarity that linked militant artists across the world in the context of the Cold War. It also addressed similar museographic initiatives centered on the impassioned defence of causes, present in the above mentioned examples, and explored the significance of political engagement in the decade of the 1970s –specifically in universes neither deemed vanguard nor mainstream. As such, with Past Disquiet the curators bring to light a barely documented chapter in the history of contemporary art that deals with the role of artists in movements of political change at a time where art was deemed central to social and political struggles.

Museums in Exile - Tuesday 5.09.2017, from 17.00-20.00 

Mapping Networks of Militant Artist Actions - Wednesday 6.09.2017, from 17.00-20.00 



Rasha Salti is an independent film and visual arts curator and writer, working and living between Beirut and Berlin. She co-curated several film programs including The Road to Damascus, with Richard Peña, a retrospective of Syrian cinema that toured worldwide (2006-2008); The Calm Before the Storm, a Retrospective of Lebanese Cinema, also with Richard Peña and presented at Lincoln Center (2009); and Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s until Now, with Jytte Jensen (2010-2012) showcased at the MoMA in New York.

Salti has collaborated with different festivals as a programmer, including the Abu Dhabi International Film Festival (2009-2010), and the Toronto International Film Festival (2011-2015). She has also curated film programs for the Musée Jeu de Paume (2012, 2013 and 2015) in Paris and the Tate Modern in London (2011). At present she is the commissioning editor for La Lucarne, the experimental documentary program for Arté France.

In 2011, she was one of co-curators of the 10th edition of the Sharjah Biennial for the Arts, and in 2015, she co-curated with Kristine Khouri the exhibition Past Disquiet: Narratives and Ghosts from the Exhibition of International Art for Palestine (Beirut, 1978), at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona (MACBA), and at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin, in 2016.

The event is the fourth installment of Rab-Rab Talks, initiated by Rab-Rab Press, and the second event in collaboration with Night Schoolers.

This presentation is supported by Kone Foundation. 

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