(Gerda Henkel Doctoral Fellow)
Art, Islam, and the Politics of Museum Display in the Early Twenty-First Century
Philip Geisler obtained a degree in Journalism and Media Economics at the Medienakademie Berlin before studying Art History, Islamic Studies, and Political Science at the Freie Universität Berlin and at Harvard University. In 2023, he is a Visiting Scholar at the Department of Art & Art History and the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University, where he is completing his doctoral thesis and preparing his first exhibition, titled "Reed Songs: The Nature/Culture of the Nay" (2024, Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation). His dissertation explores the connections between Islamic art displays and the performing arts in the 20th and early 21st centuries and the effects of the recent proliferation of performance in museum spaces on the structuring of our experience of time and our understanding of the performativity of objects in Islamic cultures. Philip has published on early modern Ottoman architecture and urban configurations, the connections of architecture, colonial visual culture, and dance heritage, and on contemporary architectural branding and place making in the UAE. From 2013 to 2019, he worked at the Forum Transregionale Studien as a member of the research program "Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices." He is a recipient of the Ottoman & Turkish Studies Association’s Sydney N. Fisher Prize and is a former fellow of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes. In 2022, he was a fellow at "4A_Laboratory: Art Histories, Archaeologies, Anthropologies, Aesthetics," a joint program of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.
As a music dramaturg, he co-founded and co-directs the trans-traditional Trickster Orchestra, which won the German Jazz Award 2022 as Best Large Ensemble and the 2022 TONALi Award for Contemporary Music, and he has previously worked for the Berlin Philharmonic as well as for jazz ensembles within the cosmos of the ECM record label. In 2020, he became an international nominator of the Aga Khan Music Awards. In his ongoing journalistic activities, he publishes in the TRAFO Blog for Transregional Research, the VAN music magazine, and hosts discussions on art, literature, and music.
Historians of Islamic Art Association
Middle East Studies Association
Verband Deutscher Kunsthistoriker
Dissertation: Dis-Playing Islamic Art in the Early Twenty-First Century – Objects, Performance, and the Temporalities of Museum Space
Since the early 2000s, many Islamic art museums and individual galleries have reorganized their displays, extended their programs, or have been newly constructed. At the same time, museum have started to integrate immaterial cultural heritage and the performing arts as part of their displays of Islamic art and culture. This project assesses these fundamental shifts in museum making by exploring the connections between Islamic art displays and the performing arts. It traces the history of performance in the context of material exhibitions of Islamic culture in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Based on this multisensory history of display, it examines new museum reinstallations, architectural space, and performing arts programming across the globe and the effects of the recent proliferation of performance in museum spaces on the structuring of our experience of time, the politics of belonging, and our understanding of the performativity of objects in Islamic cultures. As museums newly address Islam in and for the early twenty-first century, the thesis argues that what seems as the stable entity of the prototypical 'Islamic art museum' is really a deeply local institution, in which various needs, from the local and regional to the transnational are actualized.
First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Wendy M. K. Shaw
Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Birgit Krawietz
"Sinan’s Iconic Practices: Staging Early Modern Ottoman Architecture and Power" (panel Branding the Middle East: A Book Project) The Middle East in Myth and Reality, 12th Nordic Society for Middle Eastern Studies Conference, Reykjavik, September 2022
"From Representation to Presence: Heritage, Performing Arts, and the Polyphonic Islamic Art Museum" (section Material Culture, Art History, and Archaeology) 34th German Oriental Studies Conference, Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft and Freie Universität, Berlin, September 2022
"Architecture, Immaculate Form, and the Aesthetics of Branding in Dubai" (panel Branding Products, Persons, and Places in, from, and through the Middle East and North Africa) 34th German Oriental Studies Conference, Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft and Freie Universität, Berlin, September 2022
"Art, Islam, and the Politics of Museum Display at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum and Granada’s Museo de la Alhambra"
4A_Laboratory, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - Max-Planck-Institut, Berlin, June 2022
"Displaying Islamic Art in the Early 21st Century: Global Art Historiography, Archaeology, and the Politics of Belonging" (section Islamic Art: The Narrative of Museums)
The Power of Museums, International Museum Day Conference, International Council of Museums (ICOM-UK), May 2022
"Configuring Multiculturalism: Heritage and Narrative at Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum and Granada’s Museo de la Alhambra"
Global Displays of Islamic Art Today: Agency, Identity, and Politics, Islamic Art and Material Culture Collaborative (IAMCC), Toronto, February 2022
“Islamic Art as a Multicultural Mythology in Spain and Canada” (panel Islamic Art and the Politics of Museum Display, organized by Philip Geisler and Constance Jame, sponsored by the Historians of Islamic Art Association)
Annual Meeting, Middle East Studies Association, Montreal, November 2021
"Display and Performativity: Theorizing the Agency of Islamic Art in the Museum“
Le musée en scène: regards critiques sur la muséographie 1969-2019, International Conference, Musée du Louvre & Ecole du Louvre, Paris, June 2021
“The Performativity of Objects: Reconstituting the Islamic Art Museum” (panel Archaeology and Museology)
Annual Meeting, Middle East Studies Association, New Orleans, November 2019
“Constructing the Ottoman Image: The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne and the History of Branded Architecture” (panel Branding the Middle East)
33rd German Oriental Studies Conference, Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft and Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, September 2017
“Architecture and Identity: Incorporating Hagia Sophia in the Ottoman Selimiye Mosque” (section Heritage and Imperial Architecture)
Captivating Edirne: Resources, Connectivities and Imaginative Attraction of a Turkish Border-City in Europe, International Workshop, Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies and Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, April 2014
Philip Geisler, "Conspicuous Display: Islamic Art, Transcultural Crafts, and the Capital of Charity at the Aga Khan Museum Shop,“ in: Routledge Handbook of Global Islam and Consumer Culture, edited by Birgit Krawietz and François Gauthier, London and New York: Routledge, forthcoming 2023.
Philip Geisler, "Sinan's Iconic Practices: Staging Early Modern Ottoman Architecture and Power", in: Branding the Middle East: Communication Strategies and Image Building from Qom to Casablanca, edited by Steffen Wippel, Berlin: De Gruyter, forthcoming 2023.
Philip Geisler, "Architecture and the Myth of Immaculate Form in Dubai", in: Branding the Middle East: Communication Strategies and Image Building from Qom to Casablanca, edited by Steffen Wippel, Berlin: De Gruyter, forthcoming 2023.
Philip Geisler, “Cambodian Court Dance After Genocide: Embodied Heritage and the Limits of Critique”, Essays of the Forum Transregionale Studien 6, 2020, pp. 4-61. https://perspectivia.net/rsc/viewer/pnet_derivate_00003937/6_Geisler_trafoEssay.pdf
Philip Geisler, “Challenging the Hagia Sophia: The Selimiye Mosque in Edirne as Ottoman Empire Branding”, in: The Heritage of Edirne in Ottoman and Turkish Times. Continuities, Disruptions and Reconnections, edited by Birgit Krawietz and Florian Riedler, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020, pp. 91–151. https://www.degruyter.com/view/title/547362?language=en
Philip Geisler, “'A Forgotten Complexity': Arshia Samsaminia and Nikolaus Schlierf on Microtonal Archaeology.”, VAN Magazin, 2022. https://www.van-outernational.com/samsaminia-schlierf/
Philip Geisler, “Nebeneinander, seitlich, unendlich: Wendy M. K. Shaw über ‘Islamische’ Kunst und Musik ohne Hierarchie”, VAN Magazin, 2020. https://www.van-outernational.com/shaw
Philip Geisler, “Dynamische Traditionen und Mimesis in der Kunstmusik”, Trickster Magazine, 2020. https://tricksterorchestra.de/magazine/essay/mimesis-und-kunstmusik/
Philip Geisler, “What is Art History when the Primary Sensory Organ is the Heart? A Conversation with Wendy M. K. Shaw”, TRAFO Blog for Transregional Research, 2020. https://trafo.hypotheses.org/22802
Philip Geisler, “Halting in a Space of Total Movement: Politics and Spatial Orders at Tegel Airport”, TRAFO Blog for Transregional Research, 2014. https://trafo.hypotheses.org/1214
Philip Geisler, “Ausstellung Welten der Muslime: Das Ende einer Trennung”, zenith, 2012. https://magazin.zenith.me/de/archiv/ausstellung-welten-der-muslime
Philip Geisler, “Osmanische Oldies: Werke von Dimitrie Cantemir in der Philharmonie”, zenith, 2011.