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Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck

Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East

Edited by Anthony Downey (London: I.B. Tauris, 2015)

Archives are often viewed as ordered collections of historical documents that record information about people, places and events. This view nevertheless obscures a crucial element in these processes: the archive, whilst subject to the vagaries of time and history, is also concerned with determining the future. This feature of the archive has gained urgency in modern-day North Africa and the Middle East where it has come to the fore as a site of social, historical, theoretical, and political contestation.

Dissonant Archives is the first book to consider the ways in which contemporary artists from North Africa and the Middle East — including Alessandro Balteo-Yazbeck, Emily Jacir, Walid Raad, Jananne Al Ani, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Mariam Ghani, Zineb Sedira, and Akram Zaatari — are utilizing and disrupting the function of the archive and, in so doing, are simultaneously highlighting a systemic and perhaps irrevocable crisis in institutional and state-ordained archiving across the region.

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