Vol. 3 (2021): Geometry and Colour: Decoding the Arts of Islam in the West 1880-1945 edited by Sandra Gianfreda, Francine Giese, Axel Langer and Ariane Varela Braga.

The art and architecture of the Islamic world had a decisive impact on the development of decorative and fine arts from 1880 to 1945. Many leading artists and architects took inspiration from the rich Islamic language of forms and ornamentation. They were fascinated by the mathematical principles and unusual harmonies of colours in Persian miniatures and rugs, stained glass windows or Iznik tiles, and punched metal works and ceramics from the Near East, North Africa and Moorish Spain. While only some of them actually visited the Islamic world and studied its art and architecture in situ, many discovered it through exhibitions and publications. Following on from Paris (1893/1903), Stockholm (1897) and Algiers (1905), Munich set new standards in 1910 with the exhibition Meisterwerke muhammedanischer Kunst” (Masterpieces of Muhammadan Art). Museums, art dealers and private collectors from a number of countries contributed some 3,600 works, including valuable carpets, ceramics, metalwork pieces and Persian miniatures. The exhibition marked a turning point not only for the academic studies of the time, but also in terms of the reception of Islamic arts. In the Western fine and decorative arts of the 19th century, the Orient” conjured up motivic imagery heavily influenced by the colonialist perspective, whereas the artists of early Modernism investigated Islams stylistic devices in depth, transposing them to their own environment through a process of artistic internalization. In combination with their own traditions and their respective times, it was this very internalisation that instilled motivating creative processes, out of which artists developed countless new forms of expression.  

The contributions in this volume approach these questions from different perspectives, considering theoretical and practical applications developed by western artists, architects and decorators and how Islamic art was considered as a model for the renewal of European arts at the turn of the 20th century. 

Vol. 4 (2022): Ce que l’art fait à la ville au Maghreb et au Moyen-Orient. Pratiques artistiques, expression du politique et transformations de l’espace public, edited by Marie Bonte and Marion Slitine.

[Reclaiming Art in Urban Public Space in the MENA Region. Artistic Practices, Political Expression and Public Space Transformations]

The third issue of Manazir Journal focuses on “making art” in urban public space in North Africa and the Middle East. Whether visual or performative, these urban arts (tags, graffiti, street art, murals, performances, live shows, sculptures and installations) contribute to renewing forms of expression of politics in public space and, more broadly, to transforming urban space. Indeed, the graffiti and street art scene has accelerated over the past decade in line with the so-called “Arab Spring”: every year, graffiti on walls multiply, new urban art centers appear, and festivals entirely dedicated to street art are organized. All these initiatives are gradually turning the city into an “open-air gallery” and are transforming the relationship between city dwellers and urban public space. While many scholarly works have begun to take an interest in artistic practices in the MENA region, few of them have explored their urban dimensions. By asking what art does to the city, the contributions in this issue question the renewal of the links between art, modes of appropriation of urban space, and forms of political expression.

The articles focus on the multiple transformations of urban materialities. Who are these urban artists and what are their impact on society and the city? How do they mobilize and participate in public debates? How can they contribute to the emergence of new spheres of discussion and/or confrontation of opinions?

This issue also addresses the question of the institutionalization of urban art, its commodification (its anchoring in the art market) and its heritagization (its place in the museum institution); in other words, the questions of the “artification” of urban art and the way it can be exhibited beyond the street walls.

Moreover, the authors are invited to question the links between forms of artistic expression and the places in which they take place: how likely is urban art to (re)invent the city and contribute to a reappropriation of open spaces? How does/can it redefine urban centralities? Furthermore, what are the definitions, limits, and functions of public space that emerge from these artistic practices? Which dynamics does the transfer from urban to digital space imply for cultural practices? For if urban art is a practice that was not originally intended to circulate, the forms that these circulations take on are multiplied with the rise of new technologies (NICT).

Thus, the overall aim of this special issue is to study the ways in which the circulation of images is inscribed in urban and digital materialities; e.g. via the follow-up of the “career” of an image, from its conception to its digital recovery or its manifestation in public space (in political and social mobilizations in particular). It questions the performative dimension of these artistic practices: how can urban art, by creating new urban territorialities or alternative visual narratives of the city, constitute renewed modes of subjectivation for regaining a possible “living together”, beyond political, confessional, and identity fractures? From an interdisciplinary perspective, this issue — bringing together art historians, anthropologists, geographers, sociologists, political scientists, and also artists, filmmakers or cultural officers — is part of a wider reflection on the socio-cultural and political issues of “making art” in public space, and on the urban conditions in the Middle East and North Africa.


Future issues:

The Idea Of The Just Rule in Persianate World And Its Embodiment In Art and Material Culture, edited by Negar Habibi.