Contemporary Art in the Arab World, Iran and Turkey

1st level University Master Professional Program - academic year: 2019/20


Cristina Tonghini
Ca' Foscari University of Venice

Scientific Co-Director

Silvia Naef
University of Geneva



The last decade has seen an ever-increasing interest in the visual arts of the Arab world, Iran and Turkey (MENA). There has been an explosion of interest in contemporary art in the entire Middle Eastern region, demonstrated by new museums and galleries by annual, biennal, and international fairs and exhibitions, and at auctions.

The Master’s Degree Professional Program described here represents a response to the growing demand for professionals who specialise in all aspects of the art of the Arab world, Iran and Turkey:  Ca’ Foscari offers the first dedicated course of study in the contemporary arts of the MENA region.

Venice, at the centre of the international artistic scene, and throughout history a bridge between East and West, is the ideal place to look towards new horizons and explore new paths.  Ca’ Foscari has all the requisites needed to act as the primary institutional setting for such a Master’s Degree Program, in line with its openness towards the entire world (see the UNIVE Strategic Plan 2016-2020). The University of Geneva, principal partner in this ambitious programme, confirms its international dimensions. 

Expertise, both in-house and drawn from a consolidated international network of colleagues, allows Ca’ Foscari to present a distinguished teaching staff, and to guarantee internships at the most prestigious institutions.

Programme overview

The CAIT Master Programme offers an educational programme which balances theory and practice, starting from a global perspective and focusing on modern and contemporary artistic production in the Arab world, Iran and Turkey. The training course includes a six-week internship at one of the partner institutions and concludes with the completion of a project or a final paper.

A first part (Theory and Skills Development) alternates weeks of lectures, (Monday to Friday, six academic hours a day) with weeks of visits to museums, galleries, ateliers, fairs and foundations led by experts, teachers and tutors and with weeks of practicals and individual and group work, supervised by a tutor. This first part comprises 21 weeks of intense activity between February and June 2020.

Lectures are divided into five modules: Global Art; Modern and Contemporary Art in the Arab world, Iran and Turkey; Curatorship Theory and Practice; Art Criticism and Writing; Arts Management.

A written exam session to verify participants’ acquired knowledge is held at the end of the first part of the course, before the summer break.

A second part (Practical) consists of two modules. The first consists of a six-week internship at one of the partner institutions, from September to October 2020. The internship will take place at an institution chosen by the students, in agreement with the teaching body, and will be integral to the development of the final thesis project. The second module is dedicated to writing up the thesis project under the supervision of a teacher and any external experts involved; students can start their research after the exams’ session and will continue in the autumn, at the completion of the internship; the thesis must be submitted by December 4, 2020.


The Master’s Degree Professional Program described here aims to give students specific expertise in contemporary artistic production in the Arab world, Iran and Turkey.  The course of study is not limited to curatorship, but also to art criticism, publicity and publishing. 

Through an intensive course of study, students will acquire a range of skills that would assist their response to the requirements of various institutions needing specialised personnel, not just in the Middle East, but globally. At the same time, precisely because the course of study is not limited to curatorship, students will also be able to explore related areas of interest, starting with a choice of internships offered by the programme. They will thus acquire a particularly versatile profile, open to further careers as described below.

Professional profiles

The Master's Degree Professional Program will enable students to develop the skills needed to undertake careers in the curatorial sector (in museums, galleries, art fairs and auction houses), in the publishing sector (catalogues, other studies, and art journalism), and in publicity (educational programmes and communication to visitors).

Language: English

Available places: 25

Duration of the programme: one year

Period: February 2020 - December 2020

Teaching method: Classroom lectures, seminars, case studies, online activities

Location: Venice

Deadline for application submission: December 11th, 2019

Enrolment fees: € 8.500 (in two instalments)

Grants/scholarships: full or partial scholarships covering the registration fee, if given, will be provided by the institution of the instructor

Information: Ca’ Foscari Challenge School

Last update: 24/06/2020