Who's in town?
Octavian Esanu

The Role of the University Art Gallery Today

Salt Beyoğlu

September 28, 2022 18.30

1 Dsc01039 <i>One Hundred Years Closer to Communism</i> sergisinden görünüm, AUB Art Galleries, 2017<br />
Installation view from One Hundred Years Closer to Communism exhibition, AUB Art Galleries, 2017
Walk-in Cinema

In this Who’s in town? talk, the director and curator of the American University of Beirut Art Galleries, Octavian Esanu will discuss the role of cultural institutions and university art galleries.

Esanu was the founding director and curator of the Soros Center for Contemporary Art (Chisinau, Moldova) in the mid-1990s. In addition to his practical involvement, he has written about contemporary art as well as the cultural and historical implications of the Soros Centers for Contemporary Art (SCCA) Network for Eastern European art in the 1990s and beyond.

In 2012, Esanu became the director and curator of the newly founded American University of Beirut Art Galleries and Collections, which aims to inspire, educate, and enhance the presence, visibility, and impact of the visual arts on campus and at national and regional levels. Through its permanent collections, exhibitions and programs, the institution contributes to deepening the understanding of human creativity, promoting scholarship, outreach, evaluation, and interpretation of the visual arts, and strengthening appreciation for cultural and historical values with a particular focus on the MENA region.​

Drawing on the missions and activities of these institutions, Esanu will examine the transition of contemporary art in Eastern Europe and the MENA region. He will address the role of art education, the reasons behind the formation of university galleries, and their position in serving as a space dedicated to critical thinking and the study of the conditions of artistic production, exchange, and circulation.

The talk will be held in English.

Octavian Esanu is the founding director and curator of AUB Art Galleries and an associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the American University of Beirut, where he teaches courses in art history, histories of exhibitions, methods, practices, and theories of art and modes of display. Since 2011 he has been part of the international editorial collective of ARTMargins journal. In addition to publishing on the post-socialist transition and the institutionalization of contemporary art in Eastern Europe, he has produced several exhibitions and publications on issues related to contemporary and modern art in the Middle East. His most recent curatorial projects and publications include Contemporary Artistic Revolutions (2017), The Arab Nude (2016), 100 Years Closer to Communism (2017), The Naïve Arab Artist (2019), and Art Education in the Middle East (2021-22).