Fahrelnissa Zeid’s vibrant abstract paintings are a synthesis of Islamic, Byzantine, Arab and Persian influences fused with European approaches. This conversation between Venetia Porter from the British Museum and art historian and curator Sarah Wilson, reveals how Zeid’s practice both relates to and diverges from international art movements. The discussion is chaired by Chris Dercon, Director, Volksbühne Berlin, and former director of Tate Modern.
Chris Dercon is an art historian, a documentary filmmaker and cultural producer. He has led several major cultural institutions including; PS1 Museum in New York, Witte de With – Center for Contemporary Art and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Haus der Kunst in Munich, and Tate Modern. Since September 2017 he has been the Director of the Volksbühne theatre in Berlin.
Venetia Porter is curator at the British Museum, London, responsible for the collection of Islamic art, in particular of the Arab World and Turkey as well as developing the collection of the modern and contemporary art of the Middle East. She was previously Curator of Islamic coins in the Department of Coins and Medals. She gained a degree in Arabic and Persian at the University of Oxford, followed by a M.Phil in Islamic Art, obtaining her PhD on ‘The history and monuments of the Tahirid dynasty of the Yemen’ from the University of Durham. She curated the museum’s exhibition Hajj: Journey to the heart of Islam (2012).
Sarah Wilson is an art historian, curator and writer. Her global art interests are informed by specialism in postwar and Cold War Europe and the USSR. In 2015, she was co-curator and curator for the academic forum of the 1st Asian Biennale / 5th Guangzhou Triennale, Guanzhou, China. In 1997 she was awarded the title Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres for services to French art and culture. In 2015 she was the recipient of International Association of Art Critics’ Award for Distinguished Contribution to Art Criticism.