Noah Simblist is Chair and Associate Professor of Art at SMU Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas. He works as an artist, curator and writer. His dissertation Digging Through Time: Psychogeographies of Occupation focused on the ways that contemporary artists in Israel-Palestine and Lebanon address history. He is currently working on New Cities Future Ruins, a curatorial initiative inviting artists and designers to re-imagine the extreme urbanism of the Western Sun Belt.
In light of the recent criticism of documenta 14 and the Venice Biennial, Noah Simblist returns to the book/magazine issue “Curating Critique,” to comment on whether and where curating and criticality might meet today.
The third and final part of the essay by Noah Simblist focuses on Akram Zaatari’s use of dialogical exchange as an artistic strategy. While completely different in their dynamics and outcomes, Zaatari’s conversations with both Hagai Tamir and Avi Mograbi, he argues, reveal different degrees of both personal and political engagement and, at the same time, various forms of antagonism and refusal.
In the second part of his essay analysing Akram Zaatari’s 2013 work “Letter to a Refusing Pilot,” Noah Simblist addresses a previous work by the artist that involved a conversation with filmmaker Avi Mograbi. Simblist is reading this work through the prism of dialogical exchange, referencing Grant Kester’s definition of “dialogical art,” as well as Ella Shohat’s observations on the identity politics of Mizrachi or Arab Jews.
In the summer of 1982, during Israel’s incursion into Southern Lebanon, a story swirled around the port town of Saida that acquired mythological flourishes: One of the Israeli fighter jets that were sent to the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Ain El-Helweh, aborted its mission to bomb a school building, its pilot dropping the bombs into the sea instead. In a text for Tohu Magazine, that will be published in 3 parts, Noah Simblist dives into Lebanese artist Akram Zaatari’s work, Letter to a Refusing Pilot, instigated by this true story.