The experiences of the region’s modern artists and arts writers are shared to a certain extent with artists in different parts of the world during the social upheavals and transformations of the twentieth-century. However, they cannot be understood in their fullness if exclusively engaged within the paradigms formulated by the academic discipline of art history for the simple reason that those paradigms have been abstracted from the historical experience of western Europe and North America and do not fit the historical experience of Asia, Africa or Latin America.
At present, the academic study of art and literature is engaged in revising its interpretative frameworks in order to take into account the multiplicity of histories of art practices across the globe. To study visual expression in all its dimensions involves rethinking the terms for establishing historical and stylistic context across local, regional, international, transnational, and digital domains. al Mawrid contributes to this theoretical reconstruction of the humanities by pursuing a unique program of research that is oriented to key historiographical questions for writing and teaching the Arab world’s art history.
The Center’s strategy is to identify interpretative questions in the documentary record and to investigate those questions with a view to developing new analytic categories both in the conventional format of extended academic writing and in the visual format of artistic research including the study of artistic practices as well as the language used in describing artist processes.
In conjunction with its research program, al Mawrid contributes to the teaching of the history of the modern art history of the Arab world by contributing to the design of syllabi structured by the analytic categories it develops. Additionally, the Center works with NYUAD faculty to identify and activate primary source material relevant to a range of political, cultural and intellectual research themes already underway on campus.
Part of al Mawrid's research efforts includes publishing both books and articles related to its archival holdings. Between 2022–2023, al Mawrid has co-published two books, Story of Water and Fire by May Muzaffar, and Yasser Alwan: Egypt Every Day by Shamoon Zamir.
al Mawrid has also launched an online series, Sawt al Arsheef. These commissioned texts highlight a particularly compelling document from al Mawrid's Arab Art Archive with an interpretation of its interest or other scholarly engagement with the collections.
See more published material by al Mawrid's team here.