SAMEAGE by Alaa Edris and Valentina Roselli Final exhibition of the residency programme Mirroring for artists from the United Arab Emirates. Title: Sameage. Artists: Alaa Edris and Valentina Roselli. Curated by: Francesco Ragazzi, Vittorio Urbani, Francesco Urbano. With the collaboration of: Elisa Genna. Opening: Saturday: 29 October 2011, 18.00 Oratorio di San Ludovico – Venezia. Calle dei Vecchi, Dorsoduro 2552. Open: Until 20 November, Fridays to Sundays, from 15.00 to 19.00. For further information and appointments: email@example.com; +39 333/6763246. Organisations involved: Emirates Foundation, Associazione E, Nuova Icona, Fondazione Cini Onlus, Department of Studies on Asia and Mediterranean Africa, Ca’Foscari University, Venice.
PRESS RELEASE Saturday, 29 October at 18.00 in the ancient Oratory of S. Ludovico is the opening of the double solo exhibition of Alaa Edris (Sharja 1986) and Valentina Roselli (Turin, 1986). Curated by Associazione E and Nuova Icona, it is the result of a partnership that begin during Mirroring, the residency programme for UAE artists fnanced by the Emirates Foundation, together with the Centro Vittore Branca - Fondazione Giorgio Cini Onlus, and Ca'Foscari - Department of Studies on Asia and Mediterranean Africa. Sameage is an American slang word to express total agreement with the opinion of one's interlocutor. Tis agreement changes, however, if you add a space between the letters, making it “same age", peers. In this case, the only thing they have in common is their age, revealing little of the actual similarities between two people. After spending six weeks together, Alaa Edris and Valentina Roselli (both class ’86), both adapt to this shift between the casual coincidence of their year of birth and the indistinct mingling of one in the culture of the other. After exchanging both personal and archive material, the two artists come to the conclusion that it does not sufce to be born in the same year to experience the same contemporaraneity. For example the current economic boom of the Emirates is a refection of that in Italy in the '60s rather than of the crisis that is currently aficting Europe. In a time that passes at diferent speeds and seems to be divided into fast lanes and emergency lanes, the only chronology to remain untouched is that of female genealogy, the maternal language. Valentina Roselli studies its luminous/arduous aspect with videos and slides. Te artist creates a monument to her grandmother who, like a modern saint, is exposed to the temptations of the fesh. It thus occurs that men caught between Rodolfo Valentino and the White Sheikh make the most familiar experience exotic. Even more disquieting is Alaa Edris' intervention, who is also attracted by the fairytales her grandmother would tell her when she was small. Seven jinnat, seven female-looking demons are portrayed with objects, photographs and videos. Te midday woman donkey, the perfumed, mortal girl – these are just some of the fgures we can see in the exhibition, used by the elderly in the Gulf regions to keep their children in the house, safe from external dangers. We cannot but help remember that obscure restraining power that frst Euripides and then Freud recognised in Medea: She is also foreign, she is also powerful and terrible.
ABOUT After having promoted the mobility of Arab artists in Europe thanks to conventions with the Paris Cité Internationale des Arts and the London Delfna Foundation, the Abu Dhabi Emirates Foundation has also added Italy to the list of its destinations: None other than Venice, activating a residency programme curated by Associazione E in collaboration with Nuova Icona. Beginning on 21 September and lasting six weeks, the young artist Alaa Edris (Sharja, 1985) was able to develop her studies, against the backdrop of the historic, social and cultural context of the Veneto capital. Owing to the complexity of the territory around the lagoon, is that a mission impossible? Anything but, since the artist is supported by an interdisciplinary team that was tailor-made for her. In addition to the curators of Associazione E - Francesco Ragazzi and Francesco Urbano, others who participated in the undertaking included the director of Nuova Icona, Vittorio Urbani, the Islamology expert Ida Zilio Grandi (Ca’ Foscari, University) and the Byzantine expert Anna Calia, holder of a scholarship at the Higher School of Historical Studies (San Marino University). It was their task to fnd interpretations and enlightening experiences that would allow their guest to extricate herself with agility in one of the most portrayed and clichéd cities in the world. But that is not all: Te programme was also supervised and overseen by Salwa Mikdadi, director of the Arts & Culture Department of the Emirate Foundation and one of the most expert scholars in the feld of contemporary Arab art: She not only curated the frst Palestine pavilion for the Venice Biennale but also wrote publications such as New Vision: Arab Contemporary Art of the 21st Century. Alaa Edris is an artist in resident on the island of San Giorgio at the Centro Vittore Branca, where she had access to the infnite book and photograph patrimony of Fondazione Giorgio Cini Onlus, working alongside other researchers and experts in other disciplines. Te results of the artist residency will be presented in a closing exhibition called “Sameage” that will be opened on Saturday 29 October at 18.00. Te exhibition will be in the form of a double solo exhibition: Troughout the entire programme Alaa Edris worked with Valentina Roselli, a Venice-based artist from Turin. Two anthropological views meet, making any clear distinction between the researcher and the object being studied impossible. Te exhibition will take place in the chapel of San Ludovico: A sixteenth-century oratory founded by Doge Ludovico Priuli and now managed by Nuova Icona with a programme that focuses on artistic experimentation in situ. However the mobility programmed outlined is not only Venetian. In fact, during the six weeks two trips were organised: one to Rome and the other to Milan, thus considerably broadening the view of Italian and European visual culture. Visits to exhibitions and ancient and contemporary works of art were combined with meetings with artists, curators and experts in the feld. Some of the major institutions of Italian contemporary art opened their doors to the artist: Via Farini and DOCVA, Hangar Bicocca, Fondazione Prada, Fondazione Marconi and Galleria Gio Marconi, Villa Medici, Istituto Svizzero di Roma, Fondazione Pastifcio Cerere, Fondazione Nomas, Fondazione Giuliani and many more. It is through actions such as these, that the expectations of cultural recognition in which the Emirates have been investing for some years now will become true opportunities for mediation and exchange.
PARTNERS A project promoted by the Emirates Foundation. Curated by Associazione E and Nuova Icona at the San Ludvoico Oratory. In collaboration with Fondazione Cini Onlus, Department of Studies on Asia and Mediterranean Africa, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice.
1 Valentina Roselli. How to combine this stuf. Ink print on paper, variable dimensions, 2011.
E) Um Alhelan F) Alnaghaga G) Hemart Algayla
2 Valentina Roselli, Ana lak ala toul. Slide and single channel video, 4:51 min. in loop, 2011.
4 Alaa Edris, Kharareef-Fables from the Trucial States. Single channel video, 5:24 min. in loop, 2011.
3 Alaa Edris, Te seven Jinnat of the Trucial States. Series of 7 c-prints, 30x30cm, 2011. A) Um Alsaaf wal Leef B) Um Alduwais C) Um Shraa' D) Salama & her daughters
5 Alaa Edris, Devourless. Single channel video, 2:15 min, in loop, 2008. 6 Valentina Roselli, Yuppi Du. Single channel video, 3:02 min, in loop, variable dimensions.
1. Valentina Roselli, How to combine this stuf. Eight sheets of paper with prints of heads and diferent kinds of images are arranged tidily under two panes of glass. To the viewer’s left, in the form of half question – half statement, a series of phrases are an invitation to fnd a link between the photographs, the origin of which is anything but certain: Are they from the same archive? Are they a reminder of a story everyone is familiar with or are they accompanied by incoherent elements that should be eliminated? To the viewer’s right, on the other hand, is an illegible jumble of characters covering three adjacent sheets: We can we distinguish a geometrical pattern that identifes the absence of the recognition of a character in the writing programme, the transliteration of an Egyptian song in the Latin alphabet and the relative English translation. All the material on display here is a result of the periodical brainstorming the artists carried out during their six-week residency. In particular, one can note a distinction between the insistent presence of images on one hand, and a poetic language that is the symbol of oral tradition on the other. Linking the heterogeneous nature of the elements is a theory of betrayal founded on the pleasure this causes when we allow ourselves to reinvent our everyday identify in an exotic mythology. 2. Valentina Roselli, Ana lak ala toul. Sarò tuo per sempre [I’ll always be yours] the Egyptian Abdelhalim Hafd would sing, today still one of the most famous singers and actors in North Africa and the Middle East. It is the end of the ‘60s and beginning of the ‘70s when the cinematic subgenre that was known in Italy as musicarello was developing with equal success in other regions of the Mediterranean. A clip of these famous flms is projected on the altar: A man aboard a small boat is serenading his beloved, immerged in a scene that could be a Venetian canal. On the other hand, there is absolutely no doubt that the slide next to the video is set in Venice, portraying the artist’s grandmother who has been immortalised in a gondola near the railway station. Te resulting diptych thus creates a sort of predella for the altar piece that is missing in the church. Te frontality of the woman portrayed in the negative is reminiscent of a modern saint, who is exposed to the temptations of the fesh by a mischievous, seductive minstrel. Te vicinity of the two projections, perhaps a reference to a thematic and cultural similarity, is brought into question by the use of two distinct media that are combined approximatively. 3. Alaa Edris, Te seven Jinnat of the Trucial States. Just like a royal portrait gallery, seven self-portraits of the artist are placed on the back-rests of the wooden benches. Alaa Edris impersonates seven jinnat, seven female-looking demons that the elderly in the Gulf region evoke to frighten children, so they won’t go beyond the boundary of the home or be naughty. A maternal-themed, personal experience then takes on a specifc geographic and chronological value in the succession of photographs: Tere are seven United Arab Emirates; seven moments in the day and seven occasions that these disquieting fgures are associated with. It is through this spatial-temporal reference that it outlines a pervasive female character that has both the capacity to unite by keeping it all to herself, and to sufocate by donating death. 4. Alaa Edris, Kharareef - Fables from the Trucial States. Te video is made up of the footage of various English documentaries describing the history of the Emirates before their confederation, when they were British protectorates and known as the Trucial States. With an editing of dreamlike associations, Alaa Edris goes back over the memory of a recent past that is difcult to interpret, evoking a personal, founding myth. Te feeting protagonists of the tale are seven women, seven as in the Emirates: Jinnat, demons that appear in the tales of the old women in the Gulf region. Notes for a matriarchal theory in which power, not logic is important, amplifed by a style that draws equally on horror and expressionist cinema. 5. Alaa Edirs, Devourless. Te mouths of three monstrous female heads open and close mechanically emitting the sharp sound of a guillotine. Tey unsuccessfully try to devour a young man wearing the traditional garments of the Emirates; dragging himself through the desert, he is following what seems to be a path of atonement or punishment. Just like the cannibal impetus of the women, this action also seems destined to repeat itself in eternity, in an infnite request for forgiveness. Te relationship between the castrating female energy and the weaker male counterpart has come to a deadlock. Te three heads, which might evoke the iconography of Hieronymus Bosch to European eyes, refer to a specifc stylistic feature of the Koran. Te names or concepts that deserve to be remembered with particular emphasis are repeated in the holy book three times in a row. In this way, a female authority is being demanded, that should be above all the political stakes within which it is disputed and identifed today. 6. Valentina Roselli, Yuppi Du. Yuppi Du is the title of a song by Adriano Celentano that was the soundtrack of the same-named flm in 1975. In its modifed form the video suggests how the Italian culture is historically part of a broader Mediterranean identity that is all too often removed from the collective conscience. A new exoticism endows the poses of a fellow countrywoman who played at being a star with meaning.
ARTISTS Alaa Edris uses installations, photography and projections onto three-dimensional surfaces to go back over some of the subjects that dominated artistic Arab research over the last decades: Te construction of gender, the relationship between tradition and progress, the language and signs that identify a culture. Her aim was not, however, to defne a national or Arab identity, or a diference to the West - as did the previous generation - but rather to tackle the multi-culturism within her own community of origin. In short, Alaa Edris is part of a new generation of MiddleEast artists, who no longer meets globalisation by studying in European and American colleges but who emerges herself with immediate awareness into hybrid, stratifed surroundings. Her research pays particular attention to the portrait, a subject the artist uses to study the limits of current unstageability in the tradition of Islamic art. Valentina Roselli studies how identity is constructed in specifc groups, whether marginalised or publically recognised. With a multitude of interventions that range from the objective to the fake, the identifying element is exhibited both as a vehicle of censorship and a factor of resistance. Te anthropological research carried out by Valentina Roselli up to this moment, brought her in contact with the tribe of Banna in Africa, the ambiguous boy-scout universe, a crew of Burmese rappers Some of the places where works of the artist have been on show include: Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa, Fondazione Spinola Banna, Accademia Albertina delle Belle Arti, Helsinki Kuvataideakatemia, Norwegian Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, as part of Bjarne Melgaardâ€™s exhibition project.
INFORMATION Associazione E Tel: +39 041/200 14 13 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.e-ven.net Nuova Icona Tel: +39 041/521 01 01 e-mail: email@example.com Web: www.nuovaicona.org