Roundtable: War of Positions: Beauty and the Sublime - The Aesthetics of Culture

Thu, May 24, 2018 6:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Alwan for the Arts Presents a Round Table Discussion:

War of Positions: Beauty and the Sublime - The Aesthetics of Culture

Conceptually, the terms of aesthetic judgment relate to beauty and to the sublime, and inevitably they rest on a certain measure of individual subjectivity. With the proliferation of channels of communication, a pervasive notion of collective aesthetics has taken hold naturally rendering a shared definition of what is sublime or beautiful. The historical aggregate of access to cultural capital entrenched in social and class structures in turn validates hegemonic paradigms, to borrow Bourdieu’s term, in distinction of beauty and taste. Accordingly, the parameters of aesthetic references and the essence of an artwork, inscribed within the external dynamics of social, cultural and economic interplay, simultaneously, as a result, objectify the intentions of the artist as well as the subjectivity of the onlooker.

Beyond the immediacy between artist and audience, the terms that determine what art is, now involve multiple forms of interventions. Foremost among them are vectors of positions pertinent to curators, patrons, gallerists and artists themselves. This field of operations is imbricated, however, in a more expansive and complex, multi-layered war of positions that vie for the hegemony over cultural representation and the accessibility that orders and maintains class stratification. One prominent feature among its capacities for added value accumulation is the juridical ownership of the apparatus of state powers and the legitimacy of exercising symbolic violence. The evidentiary ethical codes of culture and dictates of good taste by common law are the infrastructural antecedents to aesthetic orientations.

The subject of this engagement is to address how art is mediated and what are the terms of judgment, by which a semblance of a coherent understanding of collective aesthetic vision can be deduced. Participants in this discussion will shed light from various perspectives, not only in an attempt to raise questions through highlighting their experiences, but also, perhaps, to provide opportunities that could allow for a constructive and creative pursuit for the relevance of aesthetics and the artistic endeavor altogether.

Doors open at 5:30 pm

Free and open to the public


Arani Bose is Founder of +91 Foundation, a New York based non-profit organization that provides platforms highlighting contemporary art practices from South Asia and its diasporic communities to the public domain. He co-founded Bose Pacia Gallery, NY (1994-2014), that specialized in contemporary South Asian art. Bose Pacia held over 80 exhibitions and is internationally recognized for presenting the South Asian avant-garde. In addition, Arani and Shumita Bose built one of the most comprehensive South Asian contemporary art collections in the United States. Arani Bose received a BA from Stanford University and an MD from the University of Colorado. He co-founded Penumbra Inc, a global healthcare company in June 2004 and currently serves as its Director.

Benjamin de Menil is a producer of traditional Latin-American music. Through iASO Records, which he founded in 2001, Benjamin has drawn global attention to the Dominican Republic’s vibrant music scene. He has helped to organize tours in the US, Canada, and Europe, and has produced recordings, compilations, and videos to critical acclaim. In partnership with DREAM, Benjamin has established the iASO Bachata Academy on the DREAM campus in Cabarete. The program is the first in the world to focus on bachata, the music of the barrios, which has become an important Dominican cultural export. Its mission is to foster musical genius in a new generation of bachateros and bachateras that will astound the world. Benjamin is a trustee of The DREAM Project and of the Menil Collection. He was a visiting scholar at the CUNY Graduate Center. He received an MBA from The Harvard Business School, and a BA in Computer Science from Brown University.

Fawz Kabra is a curator and writer based in New York. She organized the exhibition No to the Invasion: Breakdowns and Side Effects and the symposium Unpacking Histories at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (2017). She was Assistant Curator for Jerusalem Lives the inaugural exhibition at the Palestinian Museum, Ramallah (2017) and was Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Abu Dhabi Project, New York (2014-2016). Fawz curated The Way Things Can Go at the Armory Show Focus: MENAM Symposium, New York (2015) and co-curated the BRIC Biennial: Volume I, Downtown Edition at BRIC Arts and Media, Brooklyn (2014). She has been a visiting critic at Parsons and TransArt Institute where she was also MFA advisor. She served on the jury for the inaugural OGR Award in Turin (2017). Fawz earned a MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (2013).

Iliya Fridman is the Director of Fridman Gallery in West SoHo, founded in 2013. The gallery's program features innovative, emerging art and intermedia performances. He is also the Managing Partner of Fridman Law Group, a corporate and intellectual property law boutique representing tech startups. Iliya earned his BA in Philosophy from Connecticut College and JD from Fordham University School of Law. Born and raised in Moscow, he is fluent in Russian.

Jaret Vadera is a transdisciplinary artist whose work explores how different social, technological and cognitive processes shape and control the ways in which we understand the world around and within us. Vadera's practice is influenced by cognitive science, post/de-colonial theory, science fiction and Buddhist philosophy. Vadera's paintings, prints, photographs, videos and installations have been exhibited and screened internationally at venues such as the Queens Museum, MoMA, the Smithsonian APAC, Asia Society, Aga Khan Museum, Bhau Daji Lad Museum and the Maraya Art Centre. In parallel, Vadera has worked as a curator, programmer and writer on projects focusing on art as a catalyst for social change. Vadera completed his undergraduate education at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto and the Cooper Union in New York. He received his MFA in Painting and Printmaking from Yale University. He is currently Assistant Professor of Practice in New Media in the Architecture, Art and Planning School at Cornell University. Jaret Vadera lives and works between New York, Toronto and India.

Kanishka Raja is a painter working across media at the intersection of representation, craft, ornament and multiple textile and printing technologies. In interconnected bodies of work that consider the visual politics of neutral and contested territories and reflect the multivalent, multilayered hybridity of post colonial urban spaces, Raja’s paintings and their woven, scanned, printed, embroidered and reproduced counterparts interlock in complex visual fields charged with colliding realms of the foreign and the familiar. The artist was born in Calcutta and lives and works in New York and Kolkata. The circuitry of his production is grounded in the particular contingencies of this apposition.

Khaled Jarrar, through multi-disciplinary art that focuses on his native Palestine, explores the impact of modern-day power struggles on ordinary citizens while seeking to maximize the social potential of artistic interventions. Over the last decade, Jarrar has used the subject of Palestine, particularly the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, as a starting point for larger investigations of militarized societies, including the gendered spaces of violence and the links between economic and state powers that fuel and profit from war or political conflict. Born in Jenin in 1976, Khaled Jarrar lives and works in Ramallah, Palestine. Jarrar completed his education in Interior Design at the Palestine Polytechnic University in 1996, and graduated from the International Academy of Art Palestine with a Bachelor in Visual Arts degree in 2011.

Mahmoud Hamadani is a visual artist and has shown his work at The British Museum, The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, as well as numerous solo and group exhibitions in New York, London, Dubai, Lausanne and Hong Kong. He is in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The British Museum. He is a recipient of Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant. Hamadani earned a BA in Mathematics from State University of New York and a Masters degree in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He lives and works in New York City.

Murtaza Vali is a Brooklyn-based writer, art historian, and curator. An independent critic since 2005, his reviews, essays, profiles, and interviews have appeared regularly in,ArtReview,Art India,Bidoun Magazine, and ArtAsiaPacific, where he is contributing editor and was co-editor of their 2007 and 2008 Almanac, a year-end review of contemporary art across Asia. He has written essays for non-profits and galleries around the world, most notably for monographs on Emily Jacir, Reena Saini Kallat and Laleh Khorramian. He has been a visiting critic at Yale’s School of Art and Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning. He holds an MA in art history and archaeology from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.

Sameh Iskander received a PhD in Ancient Egyptian Art and culture from New York University. He is President Emeritus of the American Research in Egypt, and Board Member Emeritus of the Pelham Art Center. He is also a member of the Visiting Committee of the Egyptian Department of the Metropolitan Museum. He has a vast knowledge and experience in modern and contemporary art.

Samira Abbassy, born in Ahwaz, Iran, moved to London, UK as a child. After graduating from Canterbury College of Art, she exhibited her work in London for ten years before moving to New York in 1998. She helped to establish and co-found the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studios NY, where she currently has lifetime tenure and is a board member. During her twenty-five year involvement with the EFA she has developed its various programs: Open Studios, Guest Critic Program, International Studio Residency. Her work is shown internationally and has been acquired for private and public collections, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the British Museum, the British Government Art Collection, the Burger Collection, the Donald Rubin collection (Rubin Museum, NY),the Farjam Collection, Dubai, the Devi Foundation - India, the Omid foundation - Iran, and the Grey Art Gallery Collection at New York University. She has been awarded grants and fellowships by Yaddo, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Joan Mitchel Foundation, the Saltonstall Foundation, NYFA, and an artist-in-residence fellowship at the University of Virginia.

Tooraj Khamenehzadeh is an artist and curator based in Tehran and New York. He received a BS in computer engineering from Qazvin Azad University in Iran and is currently enrolled in the MFA Photo, Video and Related Media program at SVA in New York. His works have been shown in various international festivals, exhibitions and biennials such as Polyforme Festival, Chongqing Photo and Video Biennale and have been published in different books and magazines, including in African Textile Today and PIX Magazine. Khamenehzadeh has also participated in a number of international artists’ workshops and artist residencies in Sri Lanka, India, Ghana, Pakistan, China and Germany. He is co-founder and board member of Rybon Art Center, an independent art institute in Tehran, a board member of Res Artis as well as curator and program manager of Kooshk Residency in Tehran.

Yamini Nayar, US/India, is based in Brooklyn, NY. Nayar has exhibited her work internationally at venues including the Museum of Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Queensland Art Gallery in Australia, DeCordova Museum MA, Kiran Nadar Museum New Delhi, Sharjah Biennial in UAE, Saatchi Gallery UK, Studio Museum of Harlem and recently a solo presentation at Art Cologne. Her work is found in many public and private collections including the Solomon Guggenheim Museum NY, Kiran Nadar Museum, Saatchi Museum, Queensland Art Gallery, Cincinnati Art Museum, Hiscox and US Arts in Embassies, JP Morgan Chase. Residencies and grants include Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace, Center for Photography at Woodstock, Art Academy of Cincinnati and NYU Visiting Artist Scholar, Aaron Siskind Fellowship and a recipient of an Art Matters Foundation grant. Nayar has been a visiting artist lecturer at many institutions, and is a Thesis Advisor in the MFA Photography Dept of the School of Visual Arts. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, NY and BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Nayar's work is represented by Thomas Erben New York, Wendi Norris San Francisco and Jhaveri Contemporary Mumbai.


Alwan for the Arts is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council of the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Last updated: 2018-05-24 17:42:16

Yamini Nayar, Coil, 2016
Yamini Nayar, Coil, 2016
Khaled Jarrar, Castles Built from Sand will Fall, 2016
Khaled Jarrar, Castles Built from Sand will Fall, 2016
Jaret Vadera,Emperor of No Country, 2016
Jaret Vadera,Emperor of No Country, 2016

Alwan for the Arts

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