Anneka Lenssen, Assistant Professor of Global Modern Art at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in modern painting and contemporary visual practices, with a focus on the cultural politics of the Middle East. She teaches courses engaging with modern art and global mass culture, abstraction and aniconism, theories of aesthetic autonomy, translational practices, and historiography.
Lenssen's research examines problems of artistic representation in relation to the globalizing imaginaries of empire, nationalism, communism, decolonization, non-alignment, and Third World humanism. Her current book project is a study of avant-garde painting and the making of Syria as a contested territory between 1920 and 1970. It traces emerging ideas about artistic form and social activation within new regimes of political representation, from French Mandate rule after the first war to the mass mobilizations of youth-oriented ideological parties to Cold War cultural diplomacy.
Lenssen was previously on the board for the Association of Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey (AMCA). She is currently on the Editorial Board of ARTMargins. She is also working with colleagues Nada Shabout and Sarah Rogers to co-edit a volume of art writing from the Arab world in translation, tentatively titled Arab Art in the Twentieth Century: Primary Documents, to be published as part of the International Program at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2017. Her reviews and essays have appeared in Artforum, Bidoun, and Springerin, as well as exhibition catalogs for Darat al-Funun in Amman and the Sharjah Biennial.
Before coming to Berkeley, Lenssen taught at The American University in Cairo, where she directed the Visual Cultures Program (2013-2014). She earned her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program and the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.
2014 PhD Dissertation: The Shape of the Support: Painting and Politics in Syria's Twentieth Century