Intersections - Art and Poetry in Modern and Contemporary Arab Culture

Francesca Leoni, Saleem Al-Bahloly, Venetia Porter, Zeina Maasri, Louisa Macmillan, Connie Sjodin, Haya Alfarhan
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13:00 - 18:00
Ashmolean Museum
Beaumont Street
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Headley Lecture Theatre
To attend in person or online please register at by May 2, 2023

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In recent decades, the daftar (artist book, Ar. pl. dafatir) has emerged as one of the most fecund and versatile platforms for the encounter of poetry and art across the Arab world. Some of the ways in which these two creative spheres interacted within it are considered in the exhibition Dia al-Azzawi: Painting Poetry, currently on view at the Ashmolean Museum, with particular emphasis on aspects such as allusive qualities, shared cultural archetypes, and modes of storytelling. Using the experience of Azzawi’s dafatir and his ’visual poetry’ as starting points, this colloquium investigates further ways in which art and poetry have intersected and nourished each other in the modern and contemporary Arab cultural production.

To attend in person or online please register at by May 2, 2023


1:00-1:20 pm - Welcoming Remarks and Introduction
Francesca Leoni, Assistant Keeper and Curator of Islamic Art, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford

1:20-1:50 pm - The Formation of Dia al-Azzawi’s Mythical Image
Saleem Al-Bahloly, Research Scholar, New York University, Abu Dhabi

1:50-2:20 pm - From Abboud to Adonis via the Maqamat of al-Hariri
Venetia Porter, Honorary Research Fellow and Former Curator of Islamic and Contemporary Middle East Art, The British Museum, London

2:20-2:50 pm - Poetry and Solidarity: Dia al-Azzawi’s Early Artist’s Books
Zeina Maasri, Senior Lecturer in Global Visual Culture, University of Bristol

2:50-3:20 pm - A Voice Made Visible: Dia al-Azzawi's dafatir
Louisa Macmillan, Head of Research, Dia al-Azzawi Studio

Coffee Break

3:45-4:15 pm - Textual/Textural Modernisms: The ‘School of the Sign’ in 1960s Algeria
Connie Sjodin, PhD candidate, University of Oxford

4:15-4:45 pm - Cataloguing Damage: The Withdrawn Trace in the Iraqi Imagination
Haya Alfarhan, Assistant Professor, Kuwait University

4:45-5:15 pm - The ’National’ Poet in the Artistic Imaginary of Tunisia
Mohamed-Salah Omri, Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature, St. John’s College, University of Oxford

5:15-5:45 pm - Collecting Arab Visual Cultures
Daniel Lowe, Curator of Arabic Collections, British Library, London

5:45-6:00 pm – Concluding Remarks
Francesca Leoni, Assistant Keeper and Curator of Islamic Art, Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford