"Other Modernities": Art, Visual Culture and Patrimony Outside the West


Ed. by Silvia Naef, Irene Maffi and Wendy Shaw

Artl@s Bulletin, vol. 9:1, 2020


The notion of modernity as a tabula rasa phenomenon that destroys the present in order to build the future is particularly complicated in the case of non-Western settings, where modernization was often understood as erasing local culture in favor of a template borrowed from the West. Historiographies of non-Western arts have mostly followed such a model, viewing fine arts, associated with modernity, as opposed to “traditional” arts, often commodified in the production of nostalgia or marketed for tourists. This volume discusses the complexity of art production in non-Western contexts, beyond such reductive classifications.


"The Arab Apocalypse. Art, Abstraction & Activism in the Middle East"


Ed. by Silvia Naef & Nadia Radwan, "The Arab Apocalypse. Art, Abstraction & Activism in the Middle East", Manazir Journal, 1 (2019), published online 26 October 2019.


This first issue of Manazir Journal originates in the exhibition dedicated to the  Lebanese-American artist, poet and writer Etel Adnan held at the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern in 2018 and the related symposium. It illustrates how artists, in the Arab world, connected abstraction and political activism, in a search that ties visual aspects to clearly expressed opinions and visions of and on this region. The title refers to Adnan's well-known epic poem "The Arab Apocalypse" which she wrote during the Lebanese civil war.





D'une rive à l'autre: patrimoines croisés


Ed. by Silvia Naef, Pauline Nerfin and Nadia Radwan. Book studies in hommage to Professor Leïla el-Wakil

Geneva, Slatkine editions, 2018


Cet ouvrage de mélanges est dédié à la professeure Leïla el-Wakil, historienne de l’art, architecte et spécialiste dans le domaine de la conservation du patrimoine bâti. À l’occasion de son départ à la retraite, après trente ans de carrière au sein de l’alma mater genevoise, ses collègues, amis et anciens élèves, historiens de l’art, professionnels et experts du patrimoine culturel, ont voulu lui rendre hommage en contribuant à cet ouvrage. D’une rive à l’autre : patrimoines croisés reflète les intérêts interdisciplinaires liés aux travaux de Leïla el-Wakil, dont la carrière se situe à la croisée des chemins entre l’architecture locale et le patrimoine bâti méditerranéen. Il fait également écho à son engagement pour la sauvegarde du patrimoine à Genève et ailleurs, de même qu’à ses multiples actions éducatives et culturelles menées au sein de la Cité. L’ouvrage a été édité par Silvia Naef, professeure ordinaire à l’unité d’arabe de l’Université de Genève, Pauline Nerfin, son assistante et doctorante à l’unité d’histoire de l’art de l’Université de Genève et Nadia Radwan, son ancienne assistante et professeure assistante à l’Université de Berne.


Visual Modernity in the Arab World, Turkey and Iran: Reintroducing the “Missing Modern”


Ed. by Silvia Naef and Elahe Helbig

Asiatische Studien - Études Asiatiques, Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Asiengesellschaft - Revue de la Société Suisse-Asie, 70:4 (Dec 2016)


This special section of Asiatische Studien/Etudes asiatiques 70,4 (2016) is dedicated to different aspects of modernism in the MENA region, ranging from early academic painting in Syria to Moroccan avant-gardes and contemporary creation.



Y a-t-il une question de l’image en Islam ?


Paris, Editions Téraèdre, Series: L'Islam en débats Maghreb Moyen-Orient, 2nd updated edition, 2015 [2004]

German: Bilder und Bilderverbot im Islam, Von Muhammad zum Karikaturenstreit, Munich, C.H. Beck, 2007

Italian: La questione dell’immagine nell’Islam, Milan, ObarraO, 2011

Persian: تصور گری در اسلام  Tabriz, Daneshgah-e Honar-e Islami, 2015

Turkish: İslamda Tasvir Sorunu Var mı?, Istanbul, Ayrıntı Yayınları, 2018


The prevailing opinion considers that Islam is against images. Going back to the Koran and the hadiths, and reviewing the art production in Islamic lands from the beginning to our time, the book tries to give another perspective on this question. The modern period, where a multiplication of images can be observed, is analyzed in details, through fatwas and other positions taken by Islamic scholars.