Nadia Radwan appointed head of HEAD’s Visual Arts Department

Nadia Radwan (Photo: HESGE)
Nadia Radwan (Photo: HESGE)

An art historian, researcher and curator with a charismatic personality and solid academic and curatorial experience, Nadia Radwan will take charge of the Visual Arts Department at HEAD - Geneva on September 1, 2024.

A specialist in modern and contemporary art from the Middle East, she is more broadly interested in the decentering of theories of ornament and abstraction, in the concepts of orientalism and primitivism in non-Western lands, in applied arts and the use of crafts in contemporary art, and in curatorial practices from the perspective of cultural studies.orientalism and primitivism, applied arts and the use of craft in contemporary art, as well as curatorial practices in the context of cultural studies, gender studies and decolonial studies.

After obtaining her Master’s degree from the University of Geneva, she worked at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris. She then began doctoral research on Egypt’s modern artists and began her fieldwork in Cairo in January 2011, a few weeks before the revolution, which led her to rethink her thesis in the light of contemporary events. During this period, she was commissioned by Unesco to lead an emergency mission to safeguard architect Hassan Fathy’s mud projects in Luxor.

In the United Arab Emirates, she curated the permanent exhibition at the Sharjah Art Museum, then discovered the artistic production of the region and South Asia.

Between 2015 and 2022, she is Assistant Professor of World Art History at the University of Bern and works at the Center for Global Studies at the Walter Benjamin Kolleg, where she heads the interdisciplinary doctoral school in the social sciences and humanities. She also teaches at the Bern University of the Arts (HKB) and is involved in setting up the SINTA: practice-based PhD program at the same institution. In 2021, she was awarded the "Inspirierte Lehre" teaching prize by the University of Berne. In 2022, she defended her habilitation thesis on abstract expressionist painters from the Iraqi, Lebanese and Syrian diasporas who studied and worked in the USA between 1950 and 1980, and their relationship to Western theories of modernism.

Nadia Radwan has published numerous articles in international journals and contributed to exhibition catalogs, notably for the Kunsthaus Zürich, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, the Palais de Rumine, the Sharjah Museum of Art and the Westmoreland Museum of American Art.

She is the founder of Manazir: Platform for the Studies of Visual Arts, Architecture and Heritage in the Middle East and North Africa and editor-in-chief of Manazir Journal.

Nadia Radwan is bilingual (FR-EN) with a perfect command of Arabic and German, and speaks Swiss German and Spanish.

Her projects, teaching and publications are part of a vision of inclusivity and theoretical broadening of artistic practices linked to her personal trajectory.
Her solid experience in Switzerland and abroad gives her a strong national and international foothold, as well as a diversity of perspectives and an openness to issues that are crucial for art schools today. She believes that a critical and committed approach, in particular to artistic modernities, which integrates a transcultural, transdisciplinary, gender, decolonial and environmental perspective, enables us to better grasp current societal issues.

Nadia Radwan seems to have all the assets needed to take Switzerland’s largest visual arts department into the future.