Last night we were very lucky to have such a distinguished panel discussing the preservation of cultural heritage in war zones. Whether it is deliberate attacks or collateral damage, both antiquities and contemporary art in the Middle East are facing unprecedented threats. The talk focused on the questions of how we can protect what remains, the prevention of future destruction of cultural heritage and the consequences if we do not act now.
Diddi Malek, art-advisor and founder of the Islamic Department at Bonhams auction house, acted as moderator between Dr John Curtis and Dr Tamara Chalabi. This was the first time the two speakers had met each other and both were keen to hear the other's perspective.
The talk began with Dr John Curtis, former Keeper of the Middle East Department at the British Museum and CEO of the Iran Heritage Foundation, giving a presentation on the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq. Following this Dr Tamara Chalabi, writer, curator and co-founder of the Ruya Foundation, spoke more about the contemporary art world. She talked about her experiences curating the Iraq Pavilion at last year's 57th Venice Biennial 'Archaic', the difficulties she faced attaining the artefacts from the Iraq museum that had never previously left the country and the conversation this created between the ancient and contemporary.
We would like to thank our panel and everyone who came for such a fascinating talk!