Fabricating Culture, Curating Identity

23 October 2015 (18:30-20:00)
JKTL Nash Lecture Theatre, King’s College London, UK

Panelists: Giuseppe Moscatello (Maraya Art Centre Director), JW Stella (Director of JWSTELLA Arts Collectives), Btihaj Ajana (Associate professor of the Departments of Media, Culture and Creative Industries, and Digital Humanities at King’s College London.), and Jean-Paul Martinon (Reader in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London.).

Issues of cultural identity and representation are highly debated topics at the moment. This is more so in societies with a diverse and migrant-rich population where cultural identity is far from being a singular concept or a unified entity. Increasingly, ‘curators’ are performing a vital role in reconfiguring modes of cultural representations and communicating the diversity that is inherent to contemporary societies. At its very basic etymological level, the term curating itself goes back to the Latin word ‘cura’, meaning ‘care’, which is evocative of the ethical and normative dimension of curatorial practices. This panel will explore the interplay between curation, representation and ethics in relation to the nexus of identity and culture.

Our starting point hinges on two different yet interconnected curatorial projects: Autopoiesis, a digital art project curated by Btihaj Ajana, and [ana]: Please keep your eyes closed for a moment, a forthcoming exhibition curated by JW Stella in association with the Sharjah-based Maraya Art Centre. In each of these projects the issue of identity is central and they both take the United Arab Emirates as the backdrop of their respective enquiries. Building on these examples and extending the debate to wider issues of curation and cultural identity, the panel brings together academics and curators to discuss:


Btihaj Ajana is an academic in the Departments of Media, Culture and Creative Industries, and Digital Humanities at King’s College London. Her teaching, writing and research interests are concerned with the areas of culture and identity, ethics and politics, and the philosophy of digital media. She is the author of Governing through Biometrics: The Biopolitics of Identity (Palgrave, 2013), which provides a critical analysis of the various socio-political and ethical implications of identity systems and the policies of immigration and citizenship. Btihaj is currently researching the dynamics of emerging cultural and museum initiatives in Arab states, and how these are reconfiguring narratives about culture and identity, heritage and memory in the region.

Jean-Paul Martinon is a writer based in London. He is currently Reader in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He writes in an attempt to make sense of time: its staging in museums, its advent, its gender, its neglect, and the way it is used and abused to structure human life. To that effect, he has written monographs on a Victorian workhouse (Swelling Grounds, Rear Window, 1995), the idea of the future in the work of Derrida, Malabou and Nancy (On Futurity, Palgrave, 2007), the temporal dimension of masculinity (The End of Man, Punctum, 2013), and the concept of peace after the Rwandan genocide (After “Rwanda,” Rodopi, 2013). He is the editor of The Curatorial: A Philosophy of Curating (Bloomsbury, 2015). www.jeanpaulmartinon.net

Giuseppe Moscatello is an artist and art producer living in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, who graduated from the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Rome in 2003. He is the director of the Maraya Art Centre, a non-profit art space located in Sharjah, which is also home to the Maraya Video Archive and the Maraya Art Park. Since the establishment of the Centre in 2010, he produced more than 20 major local and international exhibitions, and more than 70 educational programs and community activities.He is also in charge of the brand new 1971 design space recently launched in Sharjah, a non-profit platform for local and international designers. He was a nominator twice for the prestigious Jameel Art Prize organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum, and he was part of the jury of the ISEA 2014 Dubai (International Symposium of Electronic Art).



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