Faculty

Visual Arts Scholar Theaster Gates's Art Basel Exhibition Draws Celebrities

Theaster Gates by Elizabeth Lippman for the New York Times

Well-regarded sculptor and scholar of urban planning, Theaster Gates, professor in Visual Arts at UChicago, excels at discovering art in ordinary objects. His enthusiasm and skill at creating unusual exhibitions drew high-visibility celebrities such as Kanye West, Emma Roberts, and Venus Williams to his Art Basel exhibition “The Black Image Corporation” a Prada-sponsored art installation in Miami this month. Gates is “that rare artist who seems to fill the space between art and ordinary life,” said Miuccia Prada, a fashion icon.

NELC and Oriental Institute Excavation Team Discovers Ancient Urban Villa with Shrine for Ancestor Worship in Egypt

A Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and Oriental Institute team unearthed a large urban villa at the site of Tell Edfu in southern Egypt dating back to the New Kingdom, about 1500–1450 B.C.E. The excavation includes a large hall containing a rare, well-preserved domestic shrine dedicated to family ancestors. “It has been more than 80 years since such a shrine for the ancestors was discovered in Egypt, and the ones we did have were rarely within an undisturbed context,” said Nadine Moeller, associate professor of Egyptian archaeology in NELC, who leads the Tell Edfu Project excavation with Oriental Institute research associate Gregory Marouard.

Scholarly Associations for Middle East Studies Laud NELC Researchers for Illuminating Recent and Ancient History

Donald Whitcomb, Orit Bashkin, and Tunc Sen

Scholars in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations have discovered and excavated new archaeological sites and uncovered new perspectives about history in the Middle East that brought new understanding about the civilizations, daily life, and religious and scientific practices of the region. In recognition of their significant contributions to the field, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) and Middle East Medievalists (MEM) recently honored NELC faculty members Donald Whitcomb and Orit Bashkin, as well as NELC alumnus Ahmet Tunç Şen, MA’10, PhD’16. Whitcomb received the MEM Lifetime Achievement Award for his pivotal fieldwork in historic Islamic archaeology. As the co-winner of MESA’s 2018 Nikki Keddie Book Award for her book Impossible Exodus: Iraqi Jews in Israel (Stanford University Press, 2017), Bashkin explores the difficult transition for Iraqi Jews who migrated to Israel in the 1950s, especially of the women and children. For his 2016 dissertation on “Astrology in the Service of the Empire: Knowledge, Prognostication, and Politics at the Ottoman Court, 1450s–1550s,” Şen received MEM’s Inaugural Dissertation Award.

UChicago Cinema Expert Helps Identify 1898 Film as Earliest Depiction of African-American Affection

Allyson Nadia Field

UChicago Associate Professor Allyson Nadia Field assisted in identifying the African-American actors, director, and historical significance of Something Good–Negro Kiss, the newly discovered silent film from 1898 that is believed to be the earliest example of African-American affection on-screen. “It was remarkable to me how well the film was preserved, and also what the actors were doing,” Field said. “There’s a performance there because they’re dancing with one another, but their kissing has an unmistakable sense of naturalness, pleasure, and amusement as well.

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