Queer World Making: Contemporary Middle Eastern Diasporic Art
a book launch discussion with Andrew Gayed & Jamil Hellu
April 10, 2024, Wednesday
6 to 7:30 pm
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor
Please join the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, Andrew Gayed, and Jamil Hellu for a book launch and discussion of Gayed’s book Queer World Making: Contemporary Middle Eastern Diasporic Art, where the book will be available for purchase.
Premodern archives from the Middle East show rich and diverse homoerotic worlds that were disrupted by the colonial imposition of Western models of sexuality. Andrew Gayed traces how contemporary Arab and Middle Eastern diasporic artists have remembered and reinvented these historical ways of being in their work in order to imagine a different present. Building on global art histories and transnational queer theory, Queer World Making illuminates contemporary understandings of queer sexuality in the Middle Eastern diaspora. The author focuses on the visual works of artists who create political art about queer identity, including Jamil Hellu, Ebrin Bagheri, 2Fik, Laurence Rasti, Nilbar Güres, and Alireza Shojaian. Through engaging with these artists, Gayed is seeking to articulate a Western and non-Western modernity that works beyond the dichotomy of sexual oppression, stereotypically associated with the Middle East, versus sexual acceptance, attributed to North American norms. Instead, Gayed traces how diasporic subjects create coming-out narratives and identities that provide alternatives to inscribed Western models. Queer World Making reframes Arab homosexualities in terms of desire and alternative gender norms rather than through Western notions of visibility and coming out, narratives that are not conducive to understanding how queer Arabs living in the West experience their sexuality.
Dr. Andrew Gayed is Assistant Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at OCAD University where he teaches courses on global contemporary art. An Egyptian-Canadian art historian, Dr. Gayed has an academic background in diasporic art, queer visual culture, and Middle Eastern art histories. Before joining OCADU, Dr. Gayed was the Visiting Scholar at NYU’s Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality where he researched the artistic practices of the queer diaspora. Gayed’s research is located at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary and transnational inquiry in art history, gender studies, and critical race theory. Dr. Gayed’s scholarship has appeared in numerous books, including the Routledge Handbook of Middle Eastern Diasporas, and Unsettling Canadian Art History, in addition to peer-reviewed journals including Journal for Studies in Art Education. Dr. Gayed’s first monograph, Queer World Making: Contemporary Middle Eastern Diasporic Art, published with the University of Washington Press, shares innovative new research in visual art and culture that will transform our understanding queerness and multiculturalism. With an emphasis on decolonial politics, this book illuminates the unexpected history of homosexuality in the Middle East as a way of better understanding the issues today that queer diasporic people of colour face.
Jamil Hellu is a visual artist whose work focuses on the fluidity of identity, cultural heritage, and queer representation, often pointing to the tensions found in the evolving discourses about sexuality. He is a Photography Lecturer in the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University and is represented by Rebecca Camacho Presents in San Francisco.
Through a multidisciplinary practice rooted in photography and that includes video, sculpture, and installation, Hellu’s projects interrogate the dominant patriarchal ideology of masculinity while challenging preconceived notions about gender expression. Navigating from a personal lens, he frequently incorporates his own history as an immigrant to the United States, exploring the impact of cultural hybridity. His art fosters empathy and dialogue, ultimately promoting a more inclusive and equitable world. Hellu holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Art Practice from Stanford University and a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. His work has been discussed in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, Artforum, and VICE. He has held multiple art residencies including at the Headlands Center for the Arts and the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris.
This event is free & open to the public. RSVP is required for audience members without an active NYU ID.
For more information about this event, please contact the NYU Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at firstname.lastname@example.org.