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Engagement Art: Regional Islamic and Global Pragmatist Aesthetics

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ENART (Engagement Art: Regional Islamic and Global Pragmatist Aesthetics)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-04-30

ENART was an integrated research and training programme. It was implemented at the University of Michigan (USA), SALT research and exhibition centre in Istanbul (Turkey), and Roskilde University (Denmark). These partner organizations of ENART provided an interdisciplinary environment that complemented the researcher’s art-historical training and endorsed her research project in transregional modern Islamic Art History.

The research project investigated a nameless art form in the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic in the early twentieth century, and its global ramifications. This nameless art form confounds the general rules of art, because it had no author, art object, or spectator. It was not a rulebreaker in the modernist fashion that revolted against tradition. Rather, it busied itself with the exploration of the cognitive functions of the creative act and their emancipatory potential in revolutionary times.

Aligning with the ongoing endeavours to decolonize art-historical lexica, museums, and universities, ENART used this outsider as a lens on—and an alternative to—the complicity of art-history writing in ‘epistemic violence’ with a focus on terminology, temporality, territory, and authority.
"ENART was structured into four work packages: 1) Research and Dissemination, 2) Communication and Public Engagement, 3) Teaching, and 4) Transferable Skills. The work has yielded the following results per work package:

1) Research and Dissemination:
• Completion of 8 months of the research
• Peer-reviewed article: “Congeries beyond Categories: Approaching the Complex Actuality of Art Practices in the Early Turkish Republic.” Asiatische Studien/Études Asiatiques 70/3, Special Issue: Worlds of Islam (2016): 1019–49.
• Continuous work on the book manuscript with the working title ""Tool for Emancipation: Engagement Art in the Late Ottoman Empire and Early Turkish Republic.""
• Faculty lecture “The Foundation of the Art-Craft Department in Ankara, 1909-1934,” University of Michigan, 14 Feb. 2017.
• 4 invited lectures: “Shifts of Perspective in Malik Aksel’s Work Circa 1930,” Koç University, Istanbul, 25 April 2018; “Pragmatism, the Ottoman New School (Yeni Mektep), and What Art Has Got to Do with It,” British Institute of Archeology at Ankara, 4 April 2018; “The First National Style and the Contours of Art in the Late Ottoman Empire,” Middle East Technical University, Ankara, 3 April 2018; “The Foundation of the Art-Craft Department in Ankara, 1909–1932,” SALT Galata, Istanbul, 26 May 2017.
• 2 conference presentations: “From Calligraphy to Handicraft: Art Education Reform in the Late Ottoman Empire.” CAA 106th Annual Conference, Los Angeles, 21–24 Feb. 2018. “On the Transition of a Concept of Art from the Late Ottoman to the Early Republican Period.” GIS Congress, Paris, 5–8 July 2017.
• Organization of the international conference ""Process in Modern and Contemporary Islamic Art,"" University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, MI, 14 April 2018.
• Poster presentation, post-doc meeting, Roskilde University, 30 Aug. 2018.
• Participation in eight meetings of the research group Global Political Sociology at Roskilde University, May to Nov. 2018.
• Participation in the workshop ""New Fakes,"" Schauspiel Leipzig, 26–28 Feb. 2019.
• Organization of the workshop ""Art in Revolutionary Times and Who Has a Say in Social Change,"" Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, 24 April 2019.
• Organization of the research seminar ""Tool for Emancipation: Drawing in the Ottoman Empire after the Revolution of 1908,"" Roskilde University, 26 April 2019.

2) Communication and Public Engagement:
• Public lecture and discussion, SALT Galata, Istanbul, 26 May 2017.
• Public round-table event, British Institute of Archeology at Ankara, 4 April 2018.
• Opening of ENART conference to the general public, U-M Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, 14 April 2018.
• Consultant for the exhibition that grew out of ENART: Idealist School, Productive Studio: Gazi Arts-Crafts Department From 1932 to 1973 at SALT Galata in Istanbul, Nov. 2018 – Feb. 2019, and in Ankara, March – April 2019.
• Contribution to the public information material of the exhibition.
• Announcements of ENART events on H-net, other email lists, homepages and social media of the involved institutions.
• Flyers and posters for the ENART events.

3) Teaching:
The researcher taught four courses in Islamic art history, global art history, and global media studies:
• Fall 2016: “Visual Cultures of Islam.” Undergraduate survey course, cross-listed: Department of History of Art and Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan.
• Winter 2017: “Sacred Places.” Undergraduate survey course, Department of History of Art, University of Michigan.
• Fall 2017: “Visual Cultures of Islam.” Undergraduate survey course, cross-listed: Department of History of Art Department, Near Eastern Studies, and Islamic Studies Program, University of Michigan.
• Fall 2018: “Global Media.” Advanced study course, Global Studies, Roskilde University.

4) Transferable Skills:
- Continuous Project Management.
- Training Courses:
• “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Unconscious Bias in Everyday Life,” 10 Nov. 2016.
• “Facilitating Discussions in the Social Sciences and Humanities,” 13 Jan. 2017.
• Mock Job Interview with Chair of the Department, Supervisor, and an Assistant Professor, 17 Jan. 2017.
• “Developing Your Teaching Philosophy,” 24 Jan. 2017.
• “Introduction to Communications in Academia,” 10 weeks, Fall 2017.
• Arabic Course, Fall 2016.
• Transdisciplinary collaboration, 18 May 2018.
• Research funding opportunities, 18 May 2018.
• New teaching methods, 12 Oct. 2018.

Three-month secondment at SALT, January to March 2018. Introduction to SALT’s different departments (public programmes, research, archive, public communication, curating, management); collaboration on the exhibition project.
ENART has advanced the state of the art conceptually and methodologically.

• ENART introduced the concept of ‘engagement art’ for the nameless art it investigated. It discussed this move against the backdrop of the relationship between vocabulary and recognition. It raises awareness for the power of inclusion AND exclusion of art-historical taxonomies and terminologies,
• with engagement art, ENART introduced a process-based art form to the object-centred research field of Islamic art history,
• ENART has broken further ground for the neglected modern and contemporary period in the field of Islamic art history,
• ENART has built bridges between Islamic art history and its mother discipline art history, and between art made in and outside of Europe due to the global ramifications of engagement art,
• engagement art has left little physical evidence and propelled ENART to develop an indirect method to extract its outline from circumstantial evidence, a method useful for research on any ephemeral art.

These results constitute a major step forward in the knowledge of the diversity of artistic expressions of Islam and its global linkages. ENART has attained its objective to redress stereotypes, contribute to an inclusive society, and inform local and global relationships. ENART’s training programme has led the researcher to adequately disseminate this outcome to an academic and non-academic audience and establish herself professionally to further ENART’s objectives beyond the duration of ENART.