Vanderbilt, Arts, and the Middle East: Building Bridges to the Global and the Local
The Middle Eastern program for the 2022 calendar year will focus on Middle Eastern themes and issues. Artists from different disciplines will demonstrate a variety of approaches to visual representation, performance, and graphic design. The exhibitions that compose the program will be complemented by academic round table discussions which will take place within the didactic visual environments that we establish. Our goal is to raise awareness of the Middle East and connect the university with Middle Eastern communities in the larger Nashville population to enhance and promote the university’s community engagement.
- Details for events and programs are subject to changes as the calendar year progresses. Any changes will be reflected in the individual event/program sent out by The Vanderbilt University Department of Art.
Space 204 Exhibitions
- Crossing Surda – Emily Jacir
March 1 – March 24, 2022
Organized by Jonathan Rattner and Qais Assali
Space 204, Department of Art, Vanderbilt University
Crossing Surda is a document of Jacir’s experiences, some banal, some harrowing, of crossing the militarized Surda checkpoint that separates Ramallah where she lives from Birzeit University where she works. The Crossing Surda exhibition, the artist campus visit, talk and screening events are co-sponsored by The Department of Cinema & Media Arts at Vanderbilt University with the generous support of the Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice.
Joint programming with the exhibition:
- Artist Talk with Emily Jacir
March 3, 2022
E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center
- Film Screening: A Letter to a Friend
March 23, 2022
E.Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center
Event announce will be sent out soon.
- The Water-Carrier Died
Keria Nashed, Mohsen Ramsis, and Bassam Habib
June 13 – August 30, 2022
- Closing Reception
August 30, 2022
Space 204 Gallery, Department of Art, Vanderbilt University
- Abracadabra: Video Works by Sarah Brahim, Ronnie Karfiol, and Laleh Mehran
June 4 – 25, 2022
Coop Gallery (Nashville, Tennessee)
Organized by Jonathan Rattner and Raheleh Filsoofi
- Elmahaba Center – Livestreamed events (tentative; details to be confirmed)
- Sunday, July 3, 2022 – Livestream via Elmahaba Center social media
1:30 – 2:00 –> light refreshments (provided by Elmahaba) and exhibition open for viewing
2:00 – 3:00 –>conversation (in Arabic)
Panelists: Mr. Ashraf (Elmahaba board member; theater/film artist); Mohsen Ramsis (exhibiting artist); Qais Assali
- Sunday, July 17th (evening) – Livestreamed through Elmahaba Center social media
Times: (evening) TBD
Panelists: Keria Nashed (exhibiting artist); Bassam Habib (exhibiting artist); and Qais Assali
- Sunday, July 3, 2022 – Livestream via Elmahaba Center social media
- Laleh Mehran
September 8 – October 20, 2022
Reception: September 13, 2022
Organized by Raheleh Filsoofi
- Branding Conflict
a group design exhibition
November 3 – December 1, 2022
Reception: November 3, 2022
Organized by Qais Assali
Programs and Events
- Vanishing Point: Past, Present and Future in the Middle East
Organizer: Raheleh Filsoofi
Moderator: Dr. Anand Taneja
Location: Robert Penn Warren Center (Vanderbilt University)
Faculty from various departments at Vanderbilt University reflect on the future of the Middle East through discussions.
- Poetry & Prose Readings
Organizer: Dr. Sheba Karim
Location: Space 204, E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center, Robert Penn Warren Center (Vanderbilt University), and the Global Education Center (Nashville, Tennessee)
Members of the faculty as well as MFA students from the Vanderbilt Creative Writing Program will present readings within Space 204 Gallery reflecting on the themes and narratives present in the exhibitions and events.
- Listening: The Fourth String
Raheleh Filsoofi and Reza Filsoofi
February 21 – March 21, 2022
exhibition and program components
Organized by Raheleh Filsoofi and Michael Dickins
Location: New Gallery, Austin Peay State University Department of Art + Design Department,(Clarksville, TN)
Exhibition Description: This project conceptualizes listening and examines the listening experience as a means for change in cultural communication and societal perceptions. It is a collaborative effort between ceramicist and visual artist Raheleh T. Filsoofi and musician Reza Filsoofi consisting of a series of interactive multimedia installations and public performances. Public performances reimagine the silenced existence of the Iranian musician, Moshtagh Ali Shah, and explain his historic contributions to music. The project addresses the concept of sound, suggesting the act of listening can power community engagement, promote social change, and foster a better future. The exhibition will be staged via various events between February 21 – March 21, 2022, at the New Gallery at Austin Peay State University. This project aims to increase the community’s cultural awareness of the local Middle Eastern community and broaden participants’ knowledge and understanding of its ethos. Four presentations of Middle Eastern music will provide unique educational and performance opportunities for students and the community.
Listening: The Fourth String is a series of interactive multimedia installations and public performances that re-imagine the silenced existence of the Iranian musician, Moshtagh Ali Shah, Died. Dfdj 1206 Hijri Year, and emphasizes his historic contributions to music. The project addresses the concept of sound, suggesting the act of listening can power community engagement, promote social change, and foster a better future. The exhibition will be staged via various events between Feb. 21-March 25 in The New Gallery at Austin Peay State University.
- There are three components in this exhibition:
1) Installation and Performance
A Kermani rug that traditionally serves as a gathering place is transformed into a four-string instrument where artists and community members can experience sound and music together. In addition to community participation, local musicians have been invited to collaborate in an experimental performance with this instrument.
2) An Installation – Artists as Witnesses
In a multi-channel video, this installation provides an opportunity for underrepresented artists to collectively come together as witnesses and participants of social change in action. Close-ups of over 30 Middle Eastern musicians peer back at exhibition viewers.
3) Installation as a Platform for Learning and Engagement
This is an educational and interactive installation that allows individuals to sit and play the setar. Three video monitors will provide step-by-step instruction on a few basic strumming and picking techniques.
These installations, performances, and artists’ lectures intend to broaden participants’ knowledge and understanding of Middle Eastern music and its ethos. It provides unique educational and performance opportunities for the community. The exhibit showcases the dynamic aspects of Middle Eastern music, its capacity to integrate with other musical genres, and the potency of its contribution to the soundscape of the United States.
- Exhibition Event schedule:
- February 24:
- 12:30 PM – Gallery Talk/Performance, The New Gallery
- 6 PM. – Artist Lecture, Sundquist 106.
- March 3:
- 12:00 PM – Performance by Reza Filsoofi, The New Gallery
- March 19:
- Nowruz Celebration, The New Gallery. Performance by Reza Filsoofi and Raheleh Filsoofi with special guests Charlie Gilbert and Carlos Duran.
- Interwoven: Stored Memories
March 5 –26, 2022
Opening Reception: March 5, 2022 from 4PM to 6PM
COOP Gallery (Nashville TN)
Event Description: The loom, an ancient ancestor to the computer, attests to the progression of humankind. Comparatively, the art of weaving and the modern computer have existed in society as tools for storytelling and memory storage.
Monya Nikahd, an Iranian American handweaver, recreates significant rugs from her family, reimagining them from within our modern digital age.
Interwoven: Stored Memories visually and conceptually merges weaving with different mediums not typically used to modify a work of Craft. The work explores the often ‘combining of realities’ to create a visual of the experiences of the artist’s life living within multiple cultures.
The opening reception will also feature handwoven projects including collaborative work: Weaving and animation (collaborator, Megan Kelley), and a live performance on the opening night of weaving and music (collaborator, Reza Filsoofi)
- Middle Eastern Drum Circle
April – May 2022
Location: The Global Education Center (Nashville, TN)
Led by Reza Filsoofi
Event Description: This event will provide community performance opportunities with a variety of Middle Eastern percussion instruments. By sharing rhythms from various locations in the Middle East, the performances endeavor to promote inclusivity and foster active engagement.
Vanderbilt, Arts, and the Middle East: Building Bridges to the Global and the Local is a program curated by Raheleh Filsoofi, Jonathan Rattner, and Qasi Assali, the members of the Space 204 exhibitions committee (2021-2022). Thank you to the various collaborators, partners, and co-sponsors who are helping plan all events.