Opening Conversation: Modernisms: Block Museum - Northwestern University
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Opening Conversation: Modernisms

Prabhakar Barwe (Indian) King and Queen of Spades, 1967 Oil and paper on canvas, 39 1/4 x 54 1/8 in. Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection Gift of Abby Weed Grey, G1975.188
6 PM

Event Details

Date & Time:

Wed January 22, 2020
6 PM


The Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208


Open to the public


Join us to celebrate the opening of Modernisms: Iranian, Turkish, and Indian Highlights from NYU’s Abby Weed Grey Collection. Modernisms surveys art from three nations where unique and vibrant forms of art-making flourished in the 1960s and 1970s. Challenging histories of artistic modernism that too often begin and end in the West, Modernisms explores an under-recognized flowering of innovation and risk-taking in art beyond Europe and North America. The opening conversation will spotlight the work of four Northwestern University graduate students —Maryam Athari, Hamed Yousefi, Simran Bhalla, and Özge Karagöz— who are breaking new ground in the study of the “multiple modernities” at play in Iranian, Indian, and Turkish art. These scholars will be joined in discussion by Block curators Kathleen Bickford Berzock and Michael Metzger.



Maryam Athari is a PhD student researching the dynamics of global contemporary art world in relation to the region broadly called the Middle East. She is focused on visual arts in contemporary Tehran, Iran. She examines the dialectical tensions between relational spaces of exchange within the discourse of the global contemporary. She has held year-long curatorial fellowships at Museum of Fine Arts Houston 2016-2017, Menil Collection 2015-2016, has completed a graduate internship (2016) at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. She worked for a year at the DePaul Art Museum and Field Museum (2014-2015), both in Chicago. In her native Iran, she was for five years a member of the editorial board of the art magazine, Herfeh: Honarmad (Profession: Artist) (2004-2009) which covered different aspects of artistic practice in Iran. She also worked as grant writer and assistant project for the long-term social documentation project on Iran, A Journey Inside, and curated an exhibit of the project at Bridgeport Art Center Chicago November 2015.

Simran Bhalla’s research focuses on development and modernity in state and institutional films from India and Iran. Her research interests include experimental documentary media and global modernisms. Her article "Video Sensations" was published in Iran Namag. Simran has curated multiple film series, and is the interdisciplinary graduate fellow at the Block Museum of Art for 2019-2020. Previously, she worked as an editor at Elle magazine (India) and Time Out Delhi, and has contributed writing on arts and culture to various publications. She holds an MA in Screen Cultures from Northwestern and a dual BA in Film & Media Culture and Political Science from Middlebury College.

Özge Karagöz is a PhD student researching transnational histories of modern and contemporary art, with a focus on Turkey and the Middle East. Her research interests revolve around the historiography of art and the performativity of canonical art historical narratives in relation to the formation of art historical subjectivities, particularly in contexts outside of Western Europe and North America. She received a B.A. in Visual Arts from Sabancı University in Istanbul and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she wrote a thesis on the genealogy of some major art terms in the Turkish language, tracing their complex semantic histories in relation to the Arabo-Persian, French, German, and Anglophone art discourses as well as Turkey's intellectual history. She is also a Mellon Cluster Fellow in Northwestern’s Middle East and North African Studies.

Hamed Yousefi's research looks at the convergence of three categories; avant-garde art, the global south and the Cold War. He received his MA in Aesthetics and Art Theory from Center for Research in Modern European Philosophy in London. As a filmmaker, he has made numerous documentaries including a series of essay films about the aesthetic history of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the revolution of 1979. Other research interests include third world modernism, decolonization, Marxism, critical theory, contemporary art and politics of globalization. His feature-length documentary, The Fabulous Life and Thought of Ahmad Fardid (with Ali Mirsepassi, 2015) was recently released on DVD by New York University

Contact The Block Museum of Art for more information: (847) 491-4000 or email us at