Art Education in the Middle East
An Open Format/Work in Progress/Multi-Participant Convention of Regional Art Educators
Plateau 1: Department of Communication and School of Architecture and Design at Kaslik University (USEK)
Curators: Miha Vipotnik and Melissa Ghazale
The project commenced in November 25, 2021 with a platform dedicated to art and film education at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK)—a private Catholic university in Mount Lebanon Governorate established in 1938 by the Lebanese Maronite Order. The project revolves around the pedagogical activities of Miha Vipotnik (b. 1954), a pioneer Slovenian video artist who joined the Department of Film and Television in 2002 (renamed since 2017 into the Department of Communication). In ex-Yugoslavia Vipotnik has been credited with being one of the first artists who worked in the medium of video art during the 1970s, a process that in Slovenia has been largely synchronous with the rise of video art in the West. Working for two decades at USEK, Vipotnik has trained several generations of Lebanese film and video makers, many of whom have pursued successful artistic careers. At USEK Vipotnik teaches film, video and interdisciplinary exhibition-making and has been acting as mediator and facilitator of numerous cultural exchanges between Lebanon and Slovenia. He has involved his students in several extra curriculum exhibitions, such as In-Medias Res, Vertical Collisions, and EYE’N. In these and many other projects, exhibitions and workshops Vipotnik has played multiple roles: from managing and securing European Union funding, which allowed his students to produce new artworks and collaborate with established artists in Lebanon and Slovenia, to teaching them how to make individual and group exhibitions. For this project, which revolves around USEK and its engagement with pedagogies of art, film and video, Vipotnik is collaborating with one of his former students Melissa Ghazale (b. 1992). For the first chapter of Art Education in the Middle East project this Slovenian-Lebanese duo are co-curating an exhibition inside AUB Byblos Bank Art Galleries by putting on display documentation, video-works, maquettes, and relics from various workshops organized by Vipotnik during his teaching career in Lebanon. The duo will also hold a presentation in late November 2021, and a workshop in video art in the spring of 2022. The USEK plateau offers an overview of Vipotnik’s educational method and processes, as well as a reflection and familiarization of AUB Art Galleries audience with the methods of art education practiced at USEK. The Kaslik University (USEK) chapter, which is an open work or evolving organism or art installation that changes periodically, will then introduce other or the next participants to the project.