BA (University of Queensland) MA & PhD (Northwestern University)
Chad Elias recently completed his PhD in art history at Northwestern University in Chicago. His research focuses on contemporary art practices and visual cultures of the Middle East, with particular interest in the self-reflexive modes of documentary video, photography and performance that have emerged in Lebanon over the last two decades. His dissertation analysed a generation of contemporary Lebanese artists who have sought, in different ways, to work through a recent history shaped by the devastating impact of successive wars and a present haunted by the continuing threat of civil unrest and military conflict.
Chad's work as a teacher and writer extends beyond the Middle East to a study of cross-cultural contact within global economies of trafficking, trade, migration and displacement. Likewise his research attends to the creation of new imagined communities facilitated by transnational conditions of image production, dissemination and display. As a graduate of the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program, Chad's scholarship also engages with debates concerning the aesthetics of protest, the activation of public space, the politics of representation and the legacies of institutional critique. He is the recipient of grants from the Social Science Research Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.
Chad is currently working on the manuscript for his forthcoming book on contemporary art practices in Beirut. Focusing on the interdisciplinary art practices of Lamia Joreige, Rabih Mroué, Walid Raad, and Akram Zaatari, his study begins with the claim that the “civil war” in Lebanon was not a unified event, but a series of intermittent and ongoing conflicts of varying intensities, enacted by multiple actors in different regions, involving distinct groups and interests. His book is concerned with analyzing the relation between art and the specific forms of media address that structured these conflicts and mobilized the publics engaged in them. Situating these artists in relation to the prevailing discourses of heroism, suffering and resistance that they work in and against, his research identifies the struggles over representation that "govern the state of image-making in situations of war." Chad is also working on a parallel project that investigates Al Qaeda’s post-9/11 media productions at a moment marked both by the globalisation of wars and by the intensification of image technologies and techniques used to wage them. In addition, he is currently preparing an article on the politics of art and Palestinian queer activism in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Please email Chad for an appointment.