Moving Knowledges:
Towards a speculative Arab art residency proto-history

Since the 1990s, art residencies — as places offering temporary living and working space for artists and researchers outside of their usual environments — have expanded exponentially on a global scale. In line with this unprecedented development, a comprehensive process of self-assessment has simultaneously taken place within the field. The organization of multiple seminars and conferences as well as the publication of numerous monographs attest to the widespread interest in critically thinking about art residencies’ assets and, most importantly, their challenges.

Even as these timely discussions take place, there is an important area of inquiry that remains under-researched. That is the invisibility of other than Eurocentered approaches in the narrative that currently frames the history of art residencies. Indeed, the lack of a coherent body of work in this field demonstrates that the genealogical co-relation between knowledge and the journey hasn’t yet been critically approached from a cross-cultural perspective. As a result, the discourse that currently frames the history of art residencies continues to place Europe at the center while narrowly grounding relatively facile approaches.

An example of the lack of complexity in the history of art residencies can be found in the omission of the rich tradition intertwining mobility and knowledge within Islamic and Arab cultures and the multiple hybrid heritages they enhanced. The primary aim of this research is precisely to address, challenge and remediate this absence while imagining art residencies’ alternative pasts and suggest possible futures. To this end, through Artistic Research, post-representational cartography, collaborative and intimate curating and experimental genealogy are adopted as methodological groundings from which a speculative Arab art residency proto-history is proposed. The aim of this endeavour is to discover unexpected lineages, to reside in the movement of knowledge and to rethink the assumptions embedded in a history that we believed was already written.