Iftikhar Dadi teaches and researches modern and contemporary art from a global and transnational perspective, with emphasis on questions of methodology and intellectual history. His writings have focused on modernism and contemporary art of South and West Asia and their diasporas. Another research interest examines the film, media, and popular cultures of South Asia, seeking to understand how emergent publics forge new avenues for civic participation.
Publications include Lahore Cinema: Between Realism and Fable (University of Washington Press, forthcoming), a pioneering scholarly examination of mid-century cinema from Lahore; and Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia (2010), which has been widely reviewed in academic and art journals and received the 2010 Book Prize from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. Informed by postcolonial theory and globalization studies, the work traces the emergence of modernism by selected artists from South Asia over the course of the twentieth century. More broadly, it offers a way of writing histories of nonwestern modern art by situating modernism as transnational rather than located primarily within a national art history. Other publications include the edited volumes: The Lahore Biennale Reader 01 (forthcoming); Anwar Jalal Shemza (2015); the co-edited catalog Lines of Control (2012); and the co-edited reader Unpacking Europe (2001). His essays have appeared in numerous journals, edited volumes, and online platforms. He has received grants from the Andy Warhol Foundation, the Getty Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Dadi currently serves on the editorial and advisory boards of ARTMargins, Archives of Asian Art, and Bio-Scope: South Asian Screen Studies, and was member of the editorial board of Art Journal (2007-11). He is advisor to the Hong Kong based research organization Asia Art Archive. He is board member of Cornell’s Institute for Comparative Modernities, has served as Chair of Cornell’s Department of Art (2010-14), and Director of Cornell’s South Asia Program (2015-16 and 2018-2023). Co-curated exhibitions include Lines of Control on partitions and borders (Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell, 2012 and Nasher Museum at Duke University, 2013); Tarjama/Translation on the contemporary art of the Middle East and Central Asia (Queens Museum of Art, 2009 and Herbert F. Johnson Museum, 2010); and Unpacking Europe on the relation between Europe and the postcolonial world (Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam, 2001). Iftikhar Dadi received his PhD in history of art at Cornell University.
As an artist, Iftikhar Dadi works collaboratively with Elizabeth Dadi. Their work investigates questions of memory and borders in contemporary globalization, and the productive capacities of urban informalities across the Global South. Their practice draws on archaeology, cinema, and art historical references, and critically engages with site-specificity. Their work has been exhibited internationally. Selected exhibitions and projects include at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge University (2019-20); 13th Havana Biennial, Matanzas (2019); Lahore Biennale 01, Pakistan (2018); John Hartell Gallery, Cornell University (2018 & 2015); Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai (2018 & 2015); Office of Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo (2017); Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2016); Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario (2013); Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan (2012); Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2010); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010); Kunstnernes Hus-Oslo (2005); Moderna Museet-Stockholm (2005); Queens Museum of Art, New York (2005); Liverpool Biennial 03, Tate Liverpool (2002); EV+A 2002, Limerick, Ireland (2002); Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2000); Third Asia-Pacific Triennial, Brisbane, Australia (1999); and 24th Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1998).