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Third Annual ASGO Symposium: Art, Media and Social Unrest

March 24 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm



Keynote Speakers

Hasan Elahi, University of Maryland, College Park
“The New Normal”


Hannah Feldman, Northwestern University
The Was and There Was Not: Public Space in the Chimerical City; Beirut, 1990-2006″

March 24, 2017, 4:00 PM
265 Phillips Hall, UNC at Chapel Hill

Graduate Student Panels
March 25, 2017, 9:00 AM
University Room, Hyde Hall, UNC at Chapel Hill


Hasan Elahi is an interdisciplinary artist working with issues in surveillance, privacy, migration, citizenship, technology, and the challenges of borders. Elahi’s work has been presented in numerous exhibitions at venues such as SITE Santa Fe, Centre Georges Pompidou, Sundance Film Festival, and at the Venice Biennale. Elahi has spoken to audiences as diverse as the Tate Modern, American Association of Artificial Intelligence, International Association of Privacy Professionals, TED Global, and the World Economic Forum. His work is frequently in the media and has appeared on Al Jazeera, Fox News, and on The Colbert Report. In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship in 2016, his awards include grants from the Creative Capital Foundation in 2006 and Art Matters Foundation in 2011. In 2014, he was Artist-in-Residence at Shangri-La/Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and in 2009, Resident Faculty at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He is currently Associate Professor of Art at University of Maryland, roughly equidistant from the CIA, FBI, and NSA headquarters.

After an erroneous tip called into law enforcement authorities in 2002 subjected Elahi to an intensive investigation by the FBI and after undergoing months of interrogations, he was finally cleared of suspicions. After this harrowing experience, Elahi conceived “Tracking Transience” and opened just about every aspect of his life to the public. Predating the NSA’s PRISM surveillance program by half a decade, the project questions the consequences of living under constant surveillance and continuously generates databases of imagery that tracks the artist and his points of transit in real-time.


Hannah Feldman is Associate Professor of Art History at Northwestern University, where she is also core faculty in the Programs of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, the Program of Comparative Literary Studies, and affiliate faculty in the Department of Art Theory and Practice. The author of From a Nation Torn: Decolonizing Art and Representation in France, 1945–1962, she has also published widely on the intersections of art and violence in journals and magazines including Third Text, Artforumnka: the Journal of Contemporary African ArtArt JournalOctober, and Frieze, as well as in numerous international museum catalogues. For the years 2015-2017, she is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New Directions Scholar.

Feldman’s talk borrows its title and conceptual framework from Jayce Salloum’s 1994 film, This is Not Beirut (There was and there was not), which consolidates 200 hours of the artist’s footage of Beirut in the 1990s to consider the centrality—and precarity—of Beirut as a symbol of the country’s emergence from seventeen years of civil and other wars. Jayce’s investigation of the image as a site of alterity provides an analytic for understanding the contests over public space that would emerge in Beirut throughout the next decade as arts initiatives took to the street, in theory reclaiming it as a site of dialogue and confrontation rather than violence and destruction. By focusing on the dynamics between art’s ambitions and their unintended consequences, this talk historicizes a trajectory of local art practices and provisional events meant to claim or constitute various forms of public belonging in the years before Catherine David’s famous “discovery” of contemporary art in Beirut, and the corresponding institutionalization of the “Beirut School” as a product for international consumption and lionization that reached its zenith following the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.


Co-sponsored by the Art Department, Communication Department, and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities


Phillips Hall
120 E. Cameron Ave.
Chapel Hill, NC 27599 United States
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