American University of Beirut

Art Education in the Middle East - Plateau 4

Art Educat​​ion in the Middle East ​


The International Academy of Art Palestine (IAAP) is part of an initiative launched by the Palestinian Association of Contemporary Art (PACA) and the artist Henrik Placht in collaboration with the Oslo National Academy of Arts (KHIO). The academy was supported by the Norwegian state and funded solely by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. IAAP opened its doors on December 7, 2006 in Ramallah. This art academy offered a four-year fully-funded bachelor’s degree in contemporary art, being the first art school of its kind in Palestine. The faculty of IAAP stressed the critical engagement with national and international developments in visual culture, promoting activities informed by the latest global artistic practices and theories. The IAAP curriculum was based on the combination of art theory with multidisciplinary artistic mediums, including but not limited to: painting, photography, installation, printmaking, sculpture, video, film, sound, performance art. 

IAAP provided a model of art education that built on the dialectics of global and local; it invited a large number of distinguished guests (international artists, theoreticians, thinkers) as well as raised critical issues concerning the Palestinian, Arab, and the broader Middle Eastern cultural, historical and political context. In 2017 the academy closed facing financial difficulties, but the former director Tina Sherwell has integrated its ideas and methods into the establishment of the department of Contemporary Visual Art at Birzeit University, Palestine.

The Palestine Plateau consists of a two-screen video installation showing a talk by the former director of IAAP and a few samples of students work. In her recorded zoom lecture, the former director Tina Sherwell talks about the history of the academy, the process of instruction, the development of the curriculum, and the pedagogical methods drawing on archival material. Facing the talk by Tina Sherwell is a presentation of performance art and video works made by Noor Abed during her studies at the academy from 2011 to 2013.

Curated by Milena Ghert
AHIS 325, Spring 2022

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