GLOBAL IMAGINARIES is a recurring lecture series hosted by Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The “imaginary” is a sociological term that describes the unspoken understanding between individuals who agree to function within the same ethical, cultural, and political frameworks in a society. The “global imaginary” expands on this notion to describe the social networks emerging between people from all over the world, assisted by technological innovations such as the internet. The lecture series was established to provide a platform for artists and their communities to enter into a wider conversation about socially engaged art.

Organized in conjunction with Detroit Institute of Arts’ 2013 Shirin Neshat exhibition, “Individual Realities” was the inaugural installment of the GLOBAL IMAGINARIES series. This program aimed to explore the underlying notions that shape our expectations of society and urge us to consider art as a social medium to navigate the imaginary.  The lecturers included several prominent artists whose work focuses on the role of art within the social and political sphere, as well as a human rights activist and sociologist of culture who discussed the role of art in shaping the global imaginary.

We invite you to join the conversation. Your thoughts, criticism, and discoveries are central to broadening the dialogue beyond the walls of the lecture hall. On this Web site, you will find lecture videos, information about our speakers, and a forum for further discussion. Explore, share with friends, leave a comment, and contribute to posts as we collectively reflect on the impact and role of socially engaged art in today’s world.

Sponsored by Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art and The Center for the Study of Citizenship at Wayne State University




Keynote Speaker: Arjun Appadurai : POSTPONED

 Stay tuned for rescheduled date Fall 2013


Anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, professor of media, culture, and communication at New York University, discusses art and artists whose work functions to raise social awareness by focusing on issues of identity and cultural production.


Neshat Wednesday, March 27
Artist Lecture: Shirin Neshat
7:00 p.m., DIA Detroit Film Theatre

Shirin Neshat’s work oscillates between the personal and universal, transcending preconceptions of culture, nationality, ethnicity, and gender. The Iranian-born Neshat talks about her work as it relates to the global imaginary based on her twenty years of giving voice to these issues through her extraordinary career.


Jaar Wednesday, April 3
Artist Lecture: Alfredo Jaar
7:00 p.m., DIA Detroit Film Theatre Auditorium

Artist, architect, and filmmaker Alfredo Jaar investigates ways that art can be used as a tool to awaken consciousness about social and global conditions that advance justice and how his multimedia installations solicit empathetic responses.


ebadiSunday, April 7
Lecture: Shirin Ebadi & Shirin Neshat
Conversation between Shirin Neshat and Shirin Ebadi, moderated by Hamid Dabashi
5:30 p.m., DIA Detroit Film Theatre

Shirin Ebadi received the Nobel Peace Prize (2003) for her pioneering efforts to support democracy and human rights in Iran for nearly 50 years. Shirin Neshat became a politically engaged artist in the 1990s with photography and videos that addressed gender in Iran. Ebadi and Neshat will discuss art and human rights in a conversation moderated by sociologist of culture Hamid Dabashi.


Shalev-GerzWednesday, April 10
Artist Lecture: Esther Shalev-Gerz

7:00 p.m., DIA Detroit Film Theatre Auditorium

Esther Shalev-Gerz , born in Lithuania, educated in Israel, and now living in Paris, uses  photographs, videos, and multimedia installations, to investigate the relationships between cultural memory, citizenship, and public space.


HancockWednesday, April 24
Artist Lecture: Trenton Doyle Hancock
7:00 p.m., Marvin and Betty Danto Lecture Hall

Celebrated for his complex installations that include absurdist parables, Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock makes paintings that address his roots as a black artist. His newest efforts show domestic settings that are set on -end by a satirical take on life.