80 607 OCCAS studio: Egypt

Prerequisites

BA
A sample of already completed piece of writing to demonstrate your level of ability in academic written work. Will be assessed before course admission.
A mandatory elective course on Egypt is part of the studio.

Recommended prerequisite knowledge

Interest and some experience in scholarly, methodological, theoretical and historical reflection on a complex material.

Course content

The Egypt studio is part of OCCAS’ new, international research project Printing the Past (PriArc), part of the EU research program ”Uses of the Past”. The studio is research based and its site is Luxor, Egypt (the Theban Necropolis), where we will work along two trajectories that address the destruction and preservation of monuments.

The first relates to the Gourna village, designed by the Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy. Completed in 1952, the village was made for a local population that had previously occupied the site of the Tombs of the Nobles when the area was designated for excavation in the 1940s. The Gourna village is a unique example of vernacular modernism, and designed and built according to ancient building methods and materials. For several reasons it soon started deteriorating, and is today a listed ruin among some of the world’s most famous ruins of antiquity.

The second trajectory is the technologically and scientifically cutting edge facsimiles produced by the Madrid based digital workshop Factum Arte. Their facsimile of the tomb of Tutankhamun was installed at the entrance to the Valley of the Kings in 2014. Factum Arte is a partner in the PriArc project, and is about to start scanning and rematerializing two new tombs on the same site. The original tombs are closed due to destruction caused by both natural causes and mass tourism.

Situated in the same location but with different times and temporalities, Hassan Fathy’s modern ruin and the facsimiles pose critical questions in regards of how to preserve and present, in situ and in museums, what might be inevitably lost. From different perspectives this studio will deal with questions of preservation and mediation, based on observations (field work) and a number of sources.

OCCAS studio: Egypt is first and foremost historical and theoretical. Its output will be a book and a conceptual exhibition. The results from the studio will be part of the research conducted within Printing the Past and will contribute to an exhibition at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo in the fall 2017. Curators and anthropologists at the museum, and scholars from the PriArc group will be involved in different ways in the studio.

Main topics:

1. Hassan Fathy:
• Architectural, historical and historiographical issues (understanding “other” modernisms that have been downplayed in the Western canon).
• The listing of the Gourna village based on UNESCO documents and a wider discussion on modern monuments (and the unsuccessful attempts at preservation).

2. Digital, scientific recording and facsimile production:
• Rethinking concepts of originals and copies within contemporary preservation. (discussions on aura, authenticity, canonization, mediation and tourism).
• Studies of the site, and the significance of the place and context in Luxor (field of ancient monuments, mass tourism)

Learning outcomes

Knowledge
The students will gain historical and contemporary perspectives on preservation, Egyptian tradition and modernism, and ways of presenting irreplaceable material and objects.

Skills
The studio will give solid training in academic thinking and practice, and how to work with historical and contemporary sources, objects and documents. Further, the students will be trained in curatorial conceptualization, and in matters regarding how to display research in museum exhibitions

General competence
Readings and seminars will provide the students with insight in political, cultural, and anthropological perspectives on Egypt (orientalism, archeology, geopolitics, etc.)
Academic reasoning
Oral, visual and written presentation of argument
Curatorial skills

Working and learning activities

Students will operate as research assistants in a continuing research project will find, order and interpret new sources.
Parallel with this research work, throughout the semester, we will develop concepts that might be employed in the Egypt exhibition at the Museum of Cultural History in Fall 2017. This will involve collaboration with curators, anthropologists and archaeologists at the museum.
The studio has a strong seminar component. We will discuss texts and visual material at a weekly seminar, which become the forum for ideas exchange in the studio.
Through the semester there will be a series of lectures and seminars with national and international scholars on various aspects of the studio theme.

The studio welcomes students able to work innovatively and independently with source material and complex questions. The work will be conducted in tight collaboration with the teachers, researchers and guests supporting the course.

Professor in charge

Mari Lending og Erik Langdalen

Mandatory work requirements

Work requirements Number Number of approved Mandatory presence Comment
Excursions

Excursion: Cairo and Luxor, February 2017 (mandatory). The student must cover travel and living expenses while in Egypt.
Madrid: Visit to Factum Arte to study the production of facsimiles later in the semester.

Assessment

Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Vurderingsmappe Individual Pass / Fail
Comment:

Each student will work on a particular subject through the semester that will result in a substantial research based and well-illustrated essay. The work in progress will be evaluated several times through the semester.
Curatorial concepts will be developed and examined as group work.
Students will take responsibility for defining which facets of the curatorial process they work with. This work can take the form of a design project which is individually assessed.
A portfolio of the project work (field notes, textbooks. Etc.) will form part of the submission of course work.
The course is examined by two external censors.