Iftikhar Dadi’s research examines art as a global and networked practice from the late nineteenth century to the present, informed by theorizations of modernity, contemporaneity, and postcoloniality. It brings these methodological insights to the study of the modern and contemporary art of South Asia, the Middle East, and their diasporas. A second research interest examines media, crafts, and popular culture with reference to ongoing socio-aesthetic transformations in the region, seeking to understand how emergent urban publics forge new avenues of civic participation. Dadi’s curatorial projects and his work as a practicing artist have further served to enrich his academic scholarship.
Recent Courses Taught
ARTH 2500 Introduction to History of Photography
VISST 2000 Introduction to Visual Studies
ARTH 3600 Contemporary Art
ARTH 3611 Art of South Asia, 1500-present
ARTH 4100/6100 Proseminar: Methodologies (seminar)
ARTH 4690/6690 Comparative Modernities (seminar)
ARTH 4695/6695 Studies in Global Modern Art (seminar), topics vary.
Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia (University of North Carolina Press, 2010).
Informed by postcolonial theory and globalization studies, this book traces the emergence of modernism by selected artists associated with “Pakistan” over the course of the twentieth century. It traces one influential genealogical trajectory—the emergence of artistic subjectivity—framed by nationalism, modernism, cosmopolitanism, and “tradition.” To address quandaries of self and society, artists drew selectively from broader Persianate and Islamicate cultural legacies, contributing to the development of transnational modernism in the postcolonial era. More broadly, this study offers a new way of writing histories of nonwestern modern art by situating modernism as transnational, rather than located primarily within a national art history.
Art, Publics, and Urban Popular Culture in Contemporary South Asia. (In progress).
During the last few decades, scholarly studies of Pakistan have focused on its persistent political and institutional failures to constitute a viable democracy and civil society. Much of this work however, fails to attend to the emergence of new publics, counterpublics and non-state actors, whose venue of social, political, and aesthetic interventions are increasingly enacted in the realm of the “popular. These groups include not only political actors, but also contemporary artists. By looking beyond the screen of formal politics, this study analyzes largely unstudied visual transformations in the popular realm as persistently intersecting with organized civic life, creating unanticipated and dynamic sites for new forms of text and image based popular politics and aesthetics.
Tarjama/Translation: Contemporary Art from the Middle East, Central Asia, and its Diasporas. Co-edited with Leeza Ahmady and Reem Fadda (ArteEast, 2009). 80 pages. Catalog of exhibition Tarjama/Translation featuring 28 artists.
Editor, Prince Claus Journal 10a (2003) special issue, “The Future is Handmade: The Survival and Innovation of Crafts.” 176 pages. The volume includes contributions by 13 international authors. Link to PDF.
Unpacking Europe: Towards a Critical Reading. Co-edited with Salah Hassan (Netherlands Architectural Institute, 2001). 465 pages. A major critical reader in two parts released in conjunction with the exhibition Unpacking Europe.
Academic Articles and Book Chapters
“Transaesthetics in the Art of Shirin Neshat.” In The Migrant’s Time: Art, Dispersal & Difference, ed. Saloni Mathur (Clark Institute & Yale University Press, forthcoming).
“Ibrahim El-Salahi and Calligraphic Modernism in a Comparative Perspective.” In Ibrahim El-Salahi Retrospective, ed. Salah Hassan (Yale University Press, forthcoming). [Reprinted from South Atlantic Quarterly, (forthcoming)].
“Registering Crisis: Ethnicity in Pakistani Cinema of the 1960s and 70s.” In Beyond Crisis: A Critical Second Look at Pakistan, ed. Naveeda Khan (Routledge, forthcoming), 140-171.
Art in Pakistan: The Early Decades.” In Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan (Asia Society New York & Yale University Press, 2009), 39-49.
“Anwar Jalal Shemza: Calligraphic Abstraction,” Perspectives 1 (London: Green Cardamom, 2009). Link to PDF.
“Ghostly Sufis and Ornamental Shadows: Spectral Visualities in Karachi’s Public Sphere.” In Comparing Cities: The Middle East and South Asia, ed. Martina Rieker and Kamran Ali (Oxford University Press, 2009), 159-193.
“Nuclearization and Pakistani Popular Culture since 1998.” In South Asian Cultures of the Bomb: Atomic Publics and the State in India and Pakistan, ed. Itty Abraham (Indiana University Press, 2009), 173-194.
“Shirin Neshat’s Photographs as Postcolonial Allegories,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. Vol. 34, No. 1 (Autumn 2008): 125-150. Link to PDF.
“Political Posters in Karachi, 1988-1999,” South Asian Popular Culture. Vol. 5, No. 1 (April 2007): 11-30.
“The Pakistani Diaspora in North America.” In The New Cosmopolitanism: South Asians in the US, ed. Gita Rajan and Shailja Sharma (Stanford University Press, 2006), 37-70.
“Rethinking Calligraphic Modernism.” In Discrepant Abstraction, ed. Kobena Mercer (MIT Press, 2006), 94-114.
Short Essays, Review, and Catalog Entries
“BioScopic and Screen Studies of Pakistan, and of Contemporary Art,” BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 2010): 11-15.
“Translation and Contemporary Art.” In Tarjama/Translation (Queens Museum of Art, 2009). Exhibition catalog essay.
“Globalization and Transnational Modernism.” In Art and Globalization. Edited by James Elkins, Alice Kim, and Zhivka Valiavicharska (Pennsylvania State University Press, forthcoming).
“Contemporary Pakistan.” In Indian Highway, ed. Kathleen Madden (London: Serpentine Gallery, 2008), 201-203. Exhibition catalog essay. Link to PDF.
Book review of Partha Mitter, The Triumph of Modernism: India’s Artists and the Avant-Garde, 1922-1947. (London: Reaktion Books, 2007). The Art Bulletin Vol. 90, No. 4 (December 2008): 652-654.
“Body and Shelter: On Lida Abdul’s Videos.” In The Architecture of Desire (Colorado College, 2008), 34-42. Exhibition catalog essay.
“Allegories of Encounter” in Naiza H Khan: The Skin She Wears (London: Rossi & Rossi, 2008), 12-23. Exhibition catalog essay.
“Overview.” In “Representations: Visual Arts” section of Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, Vol. 5. Ed. Suad Joseph (Brill, 2007), 447-448.
“Modern Miniature Painting as Muslim Cosmopolitanism,” ISIM Review 18 (2006): 52-53. Link to PDF.
Book review of Tapati Guha-Thakurta, Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Post-Colonial India (Columbia University Press, 2004). Art Journal Vol. 65, No. 3 (Fall 2006): 123-125.
“Imagining South Asian Craft Under Modernity.” In Mapping ArtSouthAsia (Manchester: Shisha, 2006), 130-139.
Curator, Anwar Jalal Shemza: Calligraphic Abstraction at Green Cardamom, London, Oct-Nov 2009. Selected by ArtAsia Pacific magazine’s 2010 annual Almanac as among the most memorable exhibitions of the year. <LINK>
Co-curator (with Leeza Ahmady and Reem Fadda) of Tarjama/Translation, a major exhibition featuring 28 contemporary artists from Middle East & Central Asia, at Queens Museum of Art, May-Sep 2009. Will travel to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Aug-Oct, 2010.
Co-curator (with Salah Hassan) for Unpacking Europe, a major international exhibition by 19 leading contemporary artists at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Dec 2001 - Apr 2002.
(In collaboration with Elizabeth Dadi)
Included among 100 important emerging global artists in Fresh Cream (Phaidon Press).
Selected Recent Exhibitions
Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010).
Lines of Control, The Third Line, Dubai (2009). Exhibited “Bloodlines,” a project made in collaboration with Indian artist Nalini Malani.
Drawn from Life: Drawing Space. Green Cardamom, London (2008).
Inaugural exhibition, National Art Gallery, Islamabad, Pakistan (2007).
They Made History, Cornell University (2005).
Fatal Love, Queens Museum of Art, New York (2005). [Catalog]
DETOX, traveling media exhibition, Norway and Sweden, (2004-05).
Clash of Civilizations, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University (2003).
Street Level Photoworks Gallery, Glasgow, UK, (2003).
Liverpool Biennial, UK, (2002). [Catalog]
EV+A 2002, Limerick, Ireland, (2002). [Catalog]
Admit One Gallery, New York City (2001).
Let’s Entertain: Life’s Guilty Pleasures, at Walker Art Center, Minnesota; traveled to Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2000-2001); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany (2001); Miami Art Museum (2001). [Catalog]
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, Japan (2000). [Catalog]
Third Asia-Pacific Triennial, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia (1999). [Catalog]
Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial, Fukuoka, Japan (1999). [Catalog]
XXIV Bienal de Sao Paulo, Roteiros, Sao Paulo, Brazil (1998). [Catalog]