Contemporary Art in the Middle East  

Building relationships between UK partners and artists and contemporary art institutions across the Middle East


  • Tate


  • To develop partnerships with institutions and artists in the
    Middle East

Project details

Tate curators organise research trips to the Middle East
Several research trips were undertaken by senior Tate staff and curators to Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Kabul.

Curators were involved in a number of activities including:

  • Chairing Curators’ Workshops sessions while in Sharjah
  • Visiting the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha
  • Attending the patrons’ tour of Dubai

Tate curators also visited Dubai, Sharjah and Qatar as part of the Lure of the East touring exhibition. 

Contemporary Art in the Middle East symposium, January 2009
Seven curators from the Middle East were invited to the UK to participate in the symposium. It brought together artists, curators and writers to discuss recent developments in art from the region.

Four sessions were chaired by:

  • Derek Gregory (Professor of Geography, University of British Colombia, Vancouver)
  • Mourid Barghouti (poet and author, I Saw Ramallah)
  • Salah Hassan (professor, Art History, Cornell University)
  • Shumon Basar (curator, architect and author of Cities from Zero)

The fifth session was dedicated to presentations by curators and artists reflecting on recent exhibitions and curatorial practice.
Videos from the sessions are available on Tate Online.

The curators also took part in a programme of activities across London, including visits to museums and galleries such as The British Museum, Green Cardamom and Kate MacGarry. At each location they talked to a gallery owner or curator, increasing their knowledge and understanding of the contemporary British art scene.

Organised in collaboration with the International Curators Forum (ICF).

Sharjah Biennial, March 2009
The same curators then met again in Sharjah during the Sharjah Biennial where they were joined by curators from the UK.

They took part in three scheduled workshops which explored the issues of: commissioning art and artists, building collections and institutions and dialogue and exchange.

Future developments and partnerships

  • Publications
    Six papers from the January symposium, co-commissioned by Tate and Pat Binder and Gerhard Haupt (Universes-in-Universe), will be published in English, German and Arabic in Nafas Art Magazine, online at Universes-in-Universe and Tate Online.
    They will be available in 2009.
  • Further research visits
    A number of other senior Tate staff will undertake research trips to the Middle East. These will include further visits to Beirut, Cairo, Damascus and Jerusalem.
  • An additional research seminar
    Artist-Run Spaces: An Alternative Model of Practice and Exhibition in North Africa and the Middle East Today, is scheduled to take place on 3 July 2009 at Tate Modern. 
    During the day, eight speakers from the Middle East will present on their own area of expertise or practice.
    It will be followed by a discussion.

Debate at the Contemporary Art in the Middle East symposium

Discussion at the Contemporary Art in the Middle East symposium