Jeff O’Brien

Thesis Title

The Right to be Seen: Archiving Absence in Post-Civil War Lebanon

Committee

Dr. John O’Brian (primary), Dr. Katherine Hacker, Dr. Dina Al-Kassim

Research Areas

Contemporary Art, Visual Culture, Photography and the Archive, Memory, Art in Lebanon and Palestine, Critical Theory


Jeff O’Brien is an art historian completing his PhD at The University of British Columbia, Canada, where he is also a Liu Scholar and Curator at the Liu Institute for Global Issues. He is currently a fellow of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art at Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan, and holds a Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral SSHRC. His research investigates the work of several contemporary Lebanese and Palestinian artists who, after the Lebanese Civil War(s) of 1975-1990 in which 17,000 people were deemed “disappeared,” attempt to make visible these populations and their histories. He has published in Critical InterventionsPrefix Photo, and elsewhere. His most recent publication is “Walter Benjamin’s Allegorical Dismemberment” in Arcades Materials: Blue, Threshold to Cosmos. He has presented his work and given lectures in Jordan, Palestine, the United States and Canada.
Some forthcoming publications include “Under-Writing Beirut-Mathaf, Whose Ghosts Must be Summoned” in Inside / Outside Islamic Art & Architecture, with Bloomsbury Academic Press; “Anabasis and Awda: A Story in/of Two Parts,” Diyar Press, Bethlehem, Palestine; and a review of Chad Elias’s Posthumous Images: Contemporary Art and Memory Politics in Post–Civil War Lebanon for Critical Inquiry. He is also working on a photo book on Lifta, Palestine—one of the few extant Palestinian villages within the 48 border after Nakba—with artist Rehab Nazzal.

Fellowships, Awards and Grants

2018—19 Darat al Funun Dissertation Fellowship and Residency for Modern and Contemporary Arab Art, Amman, Jordan
2018 Canada Graduate Scholarship Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, for dissertation research The Right to be The Right to be Seen: Archiving Absence in Post-Civil War Lebanon
2016—19 Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada
2016— Liu Scholar at the Liu Institute for Global Issues, The University of British Columbia
2016—19 Four Year Doctoral Fellowship, The University of British Columbia
2018 Art History Travel Research Scholarship, Department of Art History Visual Art and Theory, The University of British Columbia
2016, 2017, 2018 Conference Paper Travel Award, Department of Art History Visual Art and Theory, The University of British Columbia
2016, 2017 Christopher Foundation Graduate Travel Award, Department of Art History Visual Art and Theory, The University of British Columbia
2014—16 Graduate Special Initiative Scholarship, The University of British Columbia
2012 Dean of Arts Award in Visual Literacy, The University of British Columbia
2012 Faculty of Arts Graduate Award, The University of British Columbia

Language Competencies

English (native speaker), Arabic (elementary, currently studying), Spanish (advanced reading, elementary speaking), French (elementary reading)

Select Publications

Journal Articles
  1. “Clement Greenberg” in Oxford Bibliographies in Art History, co-authored with John O’Brian and Jessica Law, ed. Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199920105/obo-9780199920105-0100.xml.
  2. “The Taste of Sand in the Mouth: 1939 and ‘Degenerate’ Egyptian Art,” Critical Interventions 9 no. 1 (March 2015): 22—34.
Book Chapters
  1. “Under-Writing Beirut-Mathaf, Whose Ghosts Must be Summoned” in Inside / Outside Islamic Art & Architecture, ed. Saygin Salgirli (Bloomsbury Academic Press: London and New York, 2019). (Under review)
  2. Anabasis and Awda, A Story In/Of Two Parts” in Art and Resistance (Bethlehem, Palestine: Diyar-DAK Press). (In press)
  3. “Walter Benjamin’s Allegorical Dismemberment” in Arcades Materials: Blue, Threshold to Cosmos, eds. Sam Dolbear and Hannah Proctor (2019).
Book Reviews
  1. “Janine Marchessault, Ecstatic Worlds: Media, Utopia, Ecologies, Prefix Photo 37 (Spring/Summer 2018): 90.
  2. “Gil Z. Hochberg, Visual Occupations: Violence and Visibility in a Conflict Zone,” Prefix Photo 32 (Fall/Winter 2015): 98.
Exhibition Catalogue Essays 
  1. “Photophobia,” in Choreographies of Resistance, ed. Rehab Nazzal (London, ON.: McIntosh Gallery, Western University, 2017).
  2. “Two Brief Polemics,” in For Machine Use Only, ed. Mohammad Salemy (Grand Rapids, M.I.: &&& Publishing, 2016): 33.
  3. “Foreclosing Grids,” in Perimeter (Vancouver: Gam Gallery, 2013).

Select Recent Conferences

  1. “The Right to Be Seen: Writing After the Disaster.” Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan (February 19, 2019). Invited.
  2. “Until Proven Otherwise: Memory and the Missing in Beirut.” College Art Association (CAA), Los Angeles (February 23, 2018). Presenter.
  3. “Walid Raad, Sweet Talk: Commissions (Beirut 1994).” Simon Fraser University Audain Gallery, Vancouver (November 18, 2017). Public exhibition tour.
  4. “The Labour of the Missing, the Work of the Dead: From Ruin to Archive.” Mikinaakominis / TransCanadas: Literature, Justice, Relation. University of Toronto (May 26, 2017). Presenter.
  5. “Performing Sovereignty from Palestine to Canada.” Mikinaakominis / TransCanadas: Literature, Justice, Relation. University of Toronto (May 26, 2017). Chair.
  6. “Make Room: The Destructive Archive.” Art and Resistance. Dar al Kalima, Bethlehem, Palestine (May 14, 2016). Invited.
  7. Benjamin in Palestine: On the Place and Non-Place of Radical Thought. Khalil Sakakini Center and Birzeit University, Ramallah and Birzeit, Palestine (Dec 6-11, 2015). Workshop participant.
  8. “Ici et ailleurs: from Gaza to Ferguson.” Film screening and lecture. Dar al Kalima, Bethlehem, Palestine (Dec 3-4, 2015). Invited.
  9. Through Post-Atomic Eyes. Workshop organizer with James Bridle and Susan Schuppli. Ryerson University, Toronto (Oct 26, 2015).
  10. “Foreclosing Grids.” Perimeter exhibition. Gam Gallery, Vancouver. (October 19, 2013). Panel discussant.
  11. EYES on PROTEST:  Contestation and Visuality. UBC, Vancouver (March 8, 2013). Moderator.
 
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