Jalal Toufic


AUC Center for the Arts
Department of the Arts
AUC New Cairo


Brief Biography

Jalal Toufic is a professor of film studies at the American University in Cairo. He is the author of, among other books, What Was I Thinking? (e-flux journal-Sternberg Press, 2017); The Dancer’s Two Bodies (Sharjah Art Foundation, 2015); Forthcoming (2nd ed., e-flux journal-Sternberg Press, 2014); and What Were You Thinking? (Berliner Künstlerprogramm/DAAD, 2011). He has made over ten films and videos, which include essay films and conceptual films; short films (7 minutes, 8 minutes, etc.), feature-length films (110 minutes, 138 minutes, etc.), and “inhumanely” long films (72 hours, 50 hours); videos that are standalone works as well as ones that are part of mixed media works; films that he shot and films in which all the images are from films by other directors (Hitchcock, Sokurov, Bergman, etc.). He, along with artists and pretend artists, was a participant in the Sharjah Biennials 6, 10, and 11, the 9th Shanghai Biennale, “Six Lines of Flight: Shifting Geographies in Contemporary Art” (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), “A History: Art, Architecture, and Design, from the 1980s Until Today” (Centre Pompidou), “Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011” (MoMA PS1), “Home Beirut, Sounding the Neighbors” (MAXXI), etc. He was a guest of the Artists-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD in 2011, and Director of the School of Visual Arts at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (Alba) from September 2015 to August 2018.

    • Film 3130, Film Theory
    • Film 3160, The Filmmaker: Alfred Hitchcock
    • Film 3190, Film Genres: Vampire Films
  • Books

    • Radical Closure. Singapore: National Gallery Singapore, 2020.
    • Postscripts. Stockholm: Moderna Museet; Amsterdam: Roma Publications, 2020.
    • What Was I Thinking? Berlin: e-flux journal-Sternberg Press, 2017.
    • The Dancer’s Two Bodies. Sharjah, UAE: Sharjah Art Foundation, 2015.
    • What Were You Thinking? Berlin: Berliner Künstlerprogramm/DAAD, 2011.
    • What Is the Sum of Recurrently? Istanbul, Turkey: Galeri Nev, 2010.
    • The Withdrawal of Tradition Past a Surpassing Disaster. Los Angeles: California Institute of the Arts/Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater [REDCAT], 2009 (as one of the volumes of the publication that accompanied Walid Raad’s exhibition Scratching on Things I Could Disavow: A History of Modern and Contemporary Art in the Arab World / Part I_Volume 1_Chapter 1 (Beirut: 1992–2005), edited by Clara Kim).
    • Two or Three Things I’m Dying to Tell You. Sausalito, CA: Post-Apollo Press, 2005.
    • Undying Love, or Love Dies. Sausalito, CA: Post-Apollo Press, 2002.
    • Forthcoming. Berkeley, CA: Atelos, 2000; 2nd ed., Berlin: e-flux journal-Sternberg Press, 2014.
    • Over-Sensitivity. Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1996; 2nd ed., Forthcoming Books, 2009.
    • (Vampires): An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film. Barrytown, New York: Station Hill Press, 1993; revised and expanded edition, Sausalito, CA: Post-Apollo Press, 2003.
    • Distracted. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1991; 2nd ed., Berkeley, CA: Tuumba Press, 2003.


    Translated Books


    • Le Retrait de la tradition suite au désastre démesuré, trans. Omar Berrada and Ninon Vinsonneau. Paris: Les Prairies ordinaires, 2011.
    • Distrait, trans. Guillaume Fayard. Paris: Les Petits matins, 2011.


    • Vom Rückzug der Tradition nach einem unermesslichen Desaster, trans. Christoph Nöthlings. Berlin, Germany: August Verlag, 2011.



    • Reading, Rewriting Poe’s “The Oval Portrait”—Angelically, part of dOCUMENTA (13)’s “100 Notes–100 Thoughts,” English/German (Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz, 2011).


    Selected Exhibitions/Screenings

    • Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011, MoMA PS1, New York, November 3, 2019–March 1, 2020.
    • The D-Tale, Video Art from the Pearl River Delta, Episode 3: The Politics of the Self, Times Art Center Berlin, Berlin, March 1, 2019–April 13, 2019.
    • Heavenly Beings: Neither Human nor Animal, +MSUM | Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Ljubljana, Slovenia, July 10–November 4, 2018.
    • Truth Is Black, Write over It with a Mirage’s Light, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan, July 3–October 4, 2018.
    • 7th Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture (UABB), Cities, Grow in Difference,” Shenzhen, China, December 15, 2017–March 17, 2018.
    • Home Beirut, Sounding the Neighbors, MAXXI (National Museum of the 21st Century Arts), Rome, November 15, 2017–May 20, 2018.
    • Artists’ Film International 10th Anniversary Screening, Whitechapel Gallery, London, September 7–17, 2017.
    • I Can Call this Progress to Halt, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), March 8–April 23, 2017.
    • The Time Is out of Joint, Sharjah Art Foundation, March 12–June 12, 2016.
    • Do it بالعربيSharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates, January 23–April 23, 2016.
    • First Asia Biennial & 5th Guangzhou Triennial, December 11, 2015–April 10, 2016.
    • /seconds, Sharjah Art Foundation, United Arab Emirates, October 11–December 10, 2014.
    • Une histoire, art, architecture et design, des années 80 à aujourd’hui (A History: Art, Architecture, and Design, from the 1980s Until Today), Centre Pompidou, Paris, September 16, 2015–January 2016.
    • Installing the Ruin, Galerie Tanit, Beirut, May 13–June 6, 2013.
    • Sharjah Biennial 11, United Arab Emirates, March 13–May 13, 2013.
    • 9th Shanghai Biennale, October 2, 2012–March 31, 2013.
    • Six Lines of Flight: Shifting Geographies in Contemporary Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, September 15–December 31, 2012.
    • Surplus Authors, Witte de With | Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, September 5–January 6, 2013.
    • 3rd Athens Biennale: Monodrome, Greece, October 23–December 11, 2011.
    • Locus Agonistes–Practices and Logics of the Civic, Argos Centre for Art and Media, Brussels, Belgium, October 1–December 18, 2011.
    • Wunder (Miracles), the Deichtorhallen Hamburg and the Siemens Foundation, Hamburg, Germany, September 23, 2011–February 5, 2012.
    • Decreation, West Space, Melbourne, Australia, August 8–27, 2011.
    • Image in the Aftermath, Beirut Art Center, May 18–July 16, 2011.
    • Jalal Toufic: Irruptions of the Real, Daadgalerie, Berlin, May 13–June 18, 2011.
    • Sharjah Biennial 10: Plot for a Biennial, United Arab Emirates, March 16–May 16, 2011 (recipient of a 2011 Sharjah Biennial Prize “as a philosopher, artist, and thinker of note.”
    • Art in the Auditorium, Kunsthaus Zürich, Switzerland, March 1–June 1, 2011.
    • Giorgio Andreotta Calo, Jalal Toufic, Huang Xiaopeng, Whitechapel Gallery, London, January 28–April 17, 2011.
    • All about Beirut, Galerie Tanit, White Box, Munich, December 17, 2010–January 16, 2011.
    • Blind Dates: New Encounters from the Edges of a Former Empire, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, New York City, November 19, 2010–February 11, 2011.
    • The Malady of Writing, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Spain, November 20, 2009–April 25, 2010.
    • Medium Religion, ZKM | Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe, Germany, November 23, 2008–April 19, 2009.
    • Home Works IV: A Forum on Cultural Practices, the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts Ashkal Alwan, Sfeir Semler Gallery, Beirut, April 12–May 31, 2008.
    • Art Now in Lebanon, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan, March 4–May 29, 2008.
    • Memorial to the Iraq War, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, May 23–June 27, 2007.
    • Filming Death at Work, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, Germany, April 12–May 14, 2006.
    • Home Works III: A Forum on Cultural Practices, Beirut, Lebanon, November 21and 23, 2005.
    • Normalization, Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul, Turkey, March 10–April 23, 2005.
    • Focus Jalal Toufic, 16th International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA), November 22, 25 and 29, 2003.
    • Home Works II: A Forum on Cultural Practices, the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, November 1, 2003.
    • Festival International du Cinéma Méditerranéen Montpellier, October 25 and November 1, 2003.
    • 14th Festival Internacional De Arte Electrônica—Videobrasil, SESC Pompéia, São Paulo, September 27, 2003.
    • DisORIENTation: Contemporary Arab Artistic Practices from the Middle East, House of World Cultures, Berlin, April 12, 2003.
    • 6th Sharjah International Biennial, United Arab Emirates, April 8–May 8, 2003.
    • Synopsis II-Theologies, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, October 15, 2002–January 5, 2003.
    • “Contemporary Arab Representations,” Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, May 3–July 14, 2002; Witte de With, Rotterdam, September 15–November 24, 2002.
    • Home Works: A Forum on Cultural Practices in the Region: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria, the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, Lebanon, April 7, 2002.
    • Tampering with the Reel, Artists Space, New York, June 7–July 19, 1997.
    • East of Here … (re) Imagining the ‘Orient, YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Toronto, Canada, December 14, 1996.


Research Interest
  • (Thought-provoking and/or art-provoking) Thought
  • Mortality 
  • Joy/jouissance
  • The withdrawal of tradition past a surpassing disaster
  • The dancer’s two bodies
  • Radical closure and the irruption of unworldly ahistorical fully-formed entities that it allows
  • Creating universes that don’t fall apart “two days” later