News & Events

Public Lecture by Roger Benjamin at UCC

28 Sep 2016
Anon, Famille pres de Sidi Okba, vers 1911, autochrome lumiere, coll. Serge Kakou, Paris (detail).

On 28 September 2016, Professor Roger Benjamin (University of Sydney) delivered a public lecture entitled Exhibiting Biskra: Art, Photography & Tourism in an Algerian Oasis for History of Art.

Roger Benjamin curated the exhibition ‘Biskra: Visions of an Oasis’ in conjunction with Algerian authorities for the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris (23 Sept 2016 - 22 Jan 2017).

Lecture overview: from the time of the seizure of the oasis by the French army in 1844 until today, the once-famous desert tourist town of Biskra has excited a myriad of pictorial representations, from paintings and hand-drawn maps to postcards and stereoscopic photos, to newsreel films and Technicolor romances.  The exhibition was sparked by responses of European avant-gardists who visited around 1900: André Gide for letters (his The Immoralist), Henri Matisse for art (Blue Nude, Souvenir of Biskra), and Bela Bartok for music (phonographs of Arab song that influenced his later work).  For the first time a detailed image of this place of aesthetic revelation, where luxury and squalor jostled, is revealed in the cross-cultural richness of its contested histories, colonial and postcolonial.

Speaker's bio: Roger Benjamin is an Australian art historian who trained at the University of Melbourne and Bryn Mawr College, Philadelphia.  He has written widely on French modernist art, the history of French Orientalist painting, and contemporary Aboriginal art.

This public lecture was organised by Dr Mary Kelly, Lecturer in History of Art.

History of Art

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