editor-in-chief: rima nasser +961 3 852 899 firstname.lastname@example.org editor: kasia maciejowska contributing writers: miriam lloyd-evans rich thornton alberto mucci lucy knight
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mona hatoum, over my dead body (detail), 1988 - 2002, inkjet on pvc with grommets. photo: def image. image courtesy: galerie max hetzler, berlin
words: kasia maciejowska
hen standing inside Mona Hatoum’s engulfing installation Light Sentence, with shadows from stacked cages moving back and forth all around, to feel anxious – or nauseous even – is precisely the point. “Repulsion is an important part of experiencing the work. Tensions between attraction and repulsion, or beauty and anxiety – these are what we played with when constructing every gallery”, explained Sam Bardouil, one half of Art Reoriented, who curated the survey show Mona Hatoum: Turbulence at Mathaf, as we walked between sculptures of cheese graters and hand grenades, at the opening back in February. Speaking to me afterwards in an allwhite room at the museum, the artist emphasised the importance of this visceral response when she said, “We experience the world through our senses so when I make a work I want people to first interact with it on a physical level”. Visiting Doha for this interview with Mona Hatoum brought back into perspective what it means to really experience art, and why experiential exhibitions are both powerful and accessible.
What this new retrospective also elucidates is just how lean and low-tech good immersive installation art can be. Thirty years of drumming up discomfort has made Hatoum a maestro of the quietly disturbing artwork. We start this issue with an in-depth review that says just that before moving on to think about the many voices that make up the cultural bonanza of Art Dubai. As well as previewing the new Modern galleries, we interview the artist collective Slavs and Tatars, in a bid to understand the thinking behind how they have curated the Marker section this year. Staying in the Gulf, British curator of Middle Eastern art Miriam LloydEvans shares her experiences in Saudi Arabia as she writes a diary of her time at two simultaneous programmes in the Kingdom, Jeddah Arts and Jeddah Art Week. We also chat with Rana Sadik, the dynamic Palestinian collector from Kuwait who founded MinRASY Projects and sits on the board of Ashkal Alwan. Coming back to Beirut, where the Art Paper is produced, we take a tour of the new KA Modern and
Contemporary Art Space with its founder Abraham Karabajakian, we ask five Lebanese galleries about what they are showing at Art 14, London’s newest art fair, and we review Photo Med, the French photography festival that came to the city this Winter. Zooming out from the region for a different perspective on artistic production, we consider the Foreign Bodies – Common Ground programme at the Wellcome Collection, London, which commissioned six artists from Thailand, Kenya, Malawi, Vietnam, South Africa, and the UK, to respond to science – in particular biomedical research - through residencies in their widely different contexts. Finally, we close with the first in our new series of extracts drawn directly from exhibition catalogues, this one written by design historian and author Emily King for Reload the Current Page, a series of conceptual designs relating to Cypriot national anxieties, made by Michael Anastassiades for his current show at the Point Centre for Contemporary Art in Cyprus.
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Taus Makhacheva, Landscape, 2013, 5x3cm. each, Courtesy of North Caucasus Branch, showing at Marker, curated by Slavs and Tatars, at Art Dubai 2014
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mona hatoum: review
words: kasia maciejowska
“We experience the world through our senses so when I make a work I want people to first interact with it on a physical level”
ith immersive installation experiences being the art medium of the present, with Mona Hatoum being one of the most acclaimed contemporary artists from the Arab region, and with her work acknowledging the Palestinian experience as one of displacement and disruption, the choice made by Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art to exhibit a 70-piece survey show by Mona Hatoum was an allround win for an institution that proclaims to be writing the canon of modern and contemporary art from an Arab point of view. Exhibiting Hatoum is as bold as it is smart for the museum, as the artist ceaselessly critiques the limitations placed on personal liberty by overt and covert forms of political control, as well as the very notion of nation states as real or stable entities. In its second departure from its former preference for ‘safe’ art (the first being
Mona Hatoum, Natura Morta (Medical Cabinet), Photo Hadiye Cang+¦k+ºe, Courtesy Arter Istanbul
Mona Hatoum, La Grande Broyeuse (Mouli-Julienne x 17), 1999 Photo Wim van Neuten MuHKA Antwerpen
Mona Hatoum: Turbulence at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, in Doha, foregrounds materials and manipulates the senses to leave the viewer with a feeling of transcendent discomfort, as the artist tells Kasia Maciejowska
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SURREAL MATERIALITIES AND THE RELATIONAL BODY
the previous exhibition of Adel Abdessemed, L’Age d’Or), programming Turbulence can be read as a push by Mathaf against the international reputation of the Gulf states as antiinterrogative, and as a bid to establish greater critical validity. When asked about the importance of showing in Doha and the Arab region, Hatoum explains, “It was very satisfying for me to exhibit in Beirut in 2010 because it was the city that nurtured me. When I exhibited in Amman and Cairo I felt similarly that I was giving back to my own culture. When you show work in different contexts it has different connotations. Hopefully people in Doha will react in their own way and my work will tell them something about their own lives. Nowhere else in the region would have been able to mount such a big, high quality show”. Enlisting Sam Bardouil and Till Fellreth, the duo behind Art Reoriented, to curate the exhibition ensured
a sensitive and thematic arrangement of the work. It also made sure that a balance would be struck between framing Hatoum’s work simultaneously within (EuroAmerican dominated) contemporary art discourse, and an orientally readjusted contextual awareness. Speaking about being curated by Bardouil and Fellreth, Hatoum recalls, “We started with the large pieces and looked for works that could be complementing or contradicting – it was give and take between the three of us. It’s a pleasure to rediscover my work through the eyes of curators, especially when they are a good mix of intellectual and visual sensitivities, like Sam and Till. It’s very important for curators to be present in the hanging process – an artist needs support.” Turbulence is a deft curatorial turn that constructs formalistic parallels and counterpoints of scale that emphasise the tensions between strong
and fragile materials, for example between hair and barbed wire, and between steel and tracing paper, and uses them to riff on the theme of instability. The result is less the observation of literal similarities and differences between the various works, but more a cumulative awareness felt when walking around of how this experience of transitioning between proximities to different forms generates shifting feelings in the body, which in turn influence how each artwork is perceived. This relational interaction with the human form and with other surrounding works means the exhibition is experienced physically as much as it is intellectually, proactively calling in to play the power of installation as postmodern and contemporary art’s most transcendent and accessible medium. Discussing the importance of receiving through the body as well as the mind, Hatoum explains that for her, “We experience
where she says the energy and atmosphere compels her to use certain combinations of materials and messages. Referring to her installation Interior Landscape, a cell-like room containing a bare bed with barbed wire for springs and maps of Palestine stitched into the pillow in hair and bent into a wire coat hanger nearby, she explains, “I made that work in Amman where so many people are Palestinian. It was very strange because over the fiveweek period I made several little works but had no idea what to do with them and suddenly they came together in this relation, as if I didn’t make it but the context made it.” Drowning Sorrows was made in Caracas out of local liquor bottles to reflect the drinking culture there. Her Brixton work Roadworks back in 1985 was consciously situated in the South London suburb in that the Dr. Martens boots she wore as if they were following her echoed both the police and the racist skinheads who were involved in the race riots locally the year
Mona Hatoum, Silence, 1994, Photo Poul Buchard Courtesy Louisiana Museum
Figure with Meat. Yet, because of her background as a Palestinian born in Beirut, combined with the politically informed tone of her work, her art is too-easily read as representation or protest. For certain artworks this is appropriate to some degree, whereas for others it isn’t. What is true, is that she evokes symbolic milieux from which the viewer can draw associative meanings, and they sometimes have political connotations. As an artist who changes location, her work can be seen as a product of and comment on not the political experiences of one region, but of the multilocated flux and dislocated transnationalism in which contemporary lives are so often lived. Part of Hatoum’s narrative is located in Beirut and in the diasporic, displaced communities of Palestine, and these places and non-places inform those works that she produced when visiting. Sometimes her practice is site specific in that she often immerses herself through residencies, from
Mona Hatoum, (right to left) Over my dead body, A Bigger Splash, Natura Morta (medical cabinet), Untitled (wheel chair), installation view
Mona Hatoum, Interior Landscape, installation view
the world through our senses so when I make a work I want people to first interact with it on a physical level, either through attraction or repulsion, and then to start to work out connotations of what they are looking at and to build a narrative in their head”. This mirrors her intuitive approach to production, which starts from the materials, so much so that she says she sometimes only realises what a work is really about after she finishes it. Hatoum’s British higher education at Byam Shaw and the Slade at the close of the 1970s and her subsequent immersion in London’s international art world has rendered her more than conversant in the language of Contemporary Art and its theories. These continue to inform her practice, often in transparent ways such as the formal reinterpretations and playful referential titles of works like Impenetrable, after Jesus Rafael Soto’s series of cubes Penetrable, and Carcasses (Baalbeck), after Francis Bacon’s painting
before. When experienced in their re-situation in Doha, these works one after the other trigger a deep seated and unnerving sense of turbulence in the viewer, often using a feeling of physical instability to open up questions that generate a parallel disturbance of ontological systems and structures. While she maintains the opinion that, “There is no universal” response to her work, Hatoum acknowledges that a certain type of visceral reaction is inherently solicited by the materials she chooses – be they entrails, barbed wire, hair or electricity. In her view, within this response type then come individual personal associations that give each work its specific resonance for that viewer. The use of something like bloody entrails to imitate human blood on a tightly-wrapped full head bandage, as Hatoum did for The Negotiating Table, is universally horrific, both
in the image of injury it creates and the imagination it conjures of the artist’s bodily contact with her choice of bloody materials when performing the piece, contravening a near-universal taboo. Hatoum counters, however, that there is always variation within this, saying, “People’s experience of what that means depends, for example, on whether they have experienced a massacre in their own life or just seen it on television”. To draw on such a gory example may be misleading as the majority of pieces in the exhibition and in Hatoum’s oeuvre use more palatable combinations of motion, repetition, surrealistic re-appropriation and playful détournement to challenge the immutability of the geopolitical and inter-personal status quo by generating instability. Humour plays an important role by turning ideas upside down so they can be questioned, and her wit often has a seductive
black undertow, such as in Natura Morta (Medical Cabinet) her wall-mounted sculpture of jewel-like hand grenades in Murano glass; in A Bigger Splash, her ruby red glass coronets that seem to jump up from the floor; or in Silence, her bottomless glass crib; or Untitled (Wheelchair II), a wheelchair with serrated knives as handles – all of which are shown in the same room at Mathaf. Hatoum has applied her tools of abstraction, wit, and bodily experience with focused precision to diverse materials throughout her 30 years of practice. The outcomes have powerful and wide-reaching resonance, and are perceptively recombined in Turbulence to deliver an exhibition that is conceptual enough for the discoursed critic and immediate enough for an uninitiated public – a duality that is important at Mathaf if its exhibitions are to have both depth and reach.
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what’s new at art dubai?
year, “Aims to give visitors the opportunity to make links between modern and contemporary practice.” While it seems remarkable that Art Dubai didn’t already have a section dedicated to Modern Art, it also reflects the emphasis of the market hype in recent years being focused on contemporary artistic production from the region. Modern will host 11 galleries from the Middle East and South Asia, all exhibiting solo or two-person shows each. The project has been overseen by the combined curatorial eye of four individuals whose various areas of expertise span artistic and historical scopes. The four experts are: art historian Savita Apte who specialises in modern and contemporary South Asian art; curator and writer Kristine Khouri, co-founder of the History of Arab Modernities in the Visual Arts Study Group;
curator Catherine David, noted for her work as director of Documenta X; and Nada Shabout, historian of modern Arab and Iraqi art. Adding further depth and a more process-focused aspect to the Modern programme,
the art world of today. There is an urgency to look at this ‘modern moment’ in all its complexity, and to feature modern artists from this region, many of whom deserve far greater exposure.” Exhibiting deceased artists
Art Dubai Projects, curated this year by New York-based Fawz Kabra, will show the research projects of 12 artists dotted around the fair. The new section is being introduced in a bid to set the contemporary work that has been the focus up until now in a greater sense of history and context. “This focus on modern art is particularly significant for the Middle East and South Asia” says Catherine David, “It is the focal point for understanding
such as the illustrator Ardeshir Mohasses from Iran, and the sculptor Zahoor ul Akhlaq from Pakistan, ensures that the influence of their work continues to be felt and the understanding of it can develop. A dual criteria for inclusion was that all the artists whose work is shown must have proven highly influential during both the twentieth century and today. Art Dubai runs from 19th until 22nd March 2014
Anwar Shemza, Square Composition 3, 1963, 61x61cm, Courtesy of Jhaveri
Hamed Abdalla, Al Nadam, 1968, 86x54. 3x1 .5cm, Courtesy of Karim Francis
The biggest and best art fest for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia looks back to the Moderns this year
WHAT’S NEW AT ART DUBAI?
smorgasbord of multi-national cultural communion is upon us again as artworks, collectors, press and more than 85 galleries from 35 different countries descend upon the United Arab Emirates for Art Dubai. The exhibiting galleries and art spaces are divided into three categories: Contemporary, Marker and – a new section Modern. Contemporary hosts contemporary galleries from a remarkable range of locations, from Sao Paulo to Seoul to Tehran; the focus of Marker this year is Central Asia and the Caucasus, curated by artist collective Slav and Tatars; and the new addition to this year’s fair, Modern, is devoted to Middle Eastern and South Asian artists from the 20th century. Art Dubai co-founder Benedict Floyd, commented that the introduction of Art Dubai Modern this
words: lucy knight
Dr. Nada Shabout
Nabil Nahas, Untitled, 1978,122 x 122cm, Courtesy of Lawrie Shabibi
Huguette Caland, Sans titre, 1964, 71 x 50 cm, Courtesy of Galerie Janine Rubeiz
Eurasian art collective Slavs and Tatars are curating this year’s Marker section at Art Dubai. They talk us through their commitment to transnationalism and their distaste for splitting dinner bills
PLURAL AND POLYPHONIC
Slavs and Tatars, Reverse Joy, 2012,41 x 241 x 241 cm, Photo by Orestis Argiropoulos. Cour
he artists Slavs and Tatars bring the Caucasus and Central Asia into focus for Marker 2014 by inviting art spaces and artist-led organisations to present paintings, drawings and sculptures from today and last century at a chaikhaneh (or tea salon). They share with the Art Paper their approach to the project, as well as their attitude to various things they deem important in both art and life. What are the goals of your curatorial approach to Marker for Art Dubai 2014? Our aim is primarily twofold: Firstly, to provide a coherent, critical platform for artists from a region that remains remote from much of the wider art world – and to do so in a manner that is compelling for the audience of Art Dubai. Secondly, to allow for a real discursive deep dive into a region that too-often stands politically, culturally and geographically removed from the larger Muslim world. Is Art Dubai a unique curatorial context? Although the art fair, as a phenomenon, has become a behemoth and a catalyst for a plethora of parallel fairs, events and marketing opportunities etc., Art Dubai remains unique in its dedication to discourse despite being a commercial fair – be it through the Global Art Forum, side projects, its radio station, and educational initiatives. The name of your collective makes racial and geographical reference why is it important to you to locate yourself in this way for the art world? Geographies are as political as they are poetic, and as real as they are imaginary. We founded Slavs and Tatars in 2006 for equally intellectual and personal reasons. Of
words: kasia maciejowska
Altai Sadikhzade, Observers of The Planets, 2010, 170x145 cm, Courtesy of Baku MOMA
slavs and tatars: interview
Alexander Ugai, Mourning, Video-novels, shooting fr, 2004, N A, Courtesy of the artist
Galina Konopatskaya, Cosmic Mother, 1970, 124 x 91, Courtesy of North Caucasus Branch
Stanislav Kharin, Poetic Entente or Occupation of the, 2009, 100 x 80 cm, Courtesy of North Caucasus Branch
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course, we are interested in researching an area of the world — Eurasia — that we consider relevant to us, politically, culturally, and spiritually. We take issue with various ideas that are currently circulating in the wider world and the art world, such as the positivism that seems to be so rampant in the West; the idolization of youth, coupled with the dismissal of age; an excessive emphasis on the rational at the expense of the mystical; the segregation of children from adults at social functions; splitting dinner bills; disproportionate attention to the individual over the collective. How can curation ensure that the regional bracketing of art offers a critical and conceptual framework that brings the meaning out from the work rather than reducing it to being received through a geographical and political lens? Our approach to identity is to adopt several at once – hence our name –and one of our central interests is in transnational ideas and behaviours. It’s a pity that allegiances in general are conceived of as being singular, exclusive affairs. Because the end-game of loyalty only gains in severity the higher up the scale one climbs, the more we must struggle to keep blurred the
boundaries of where one nation’s, one people’s, or one ideology’s history begins and the next one ends. Woe to the hapless immigrants who find themselves caught between devotion to home and host country, mother tongue and second language, former and future passport. The proliferation of allegiances – to languages, histories, beliefs – keeps us on our toes. We are constantly negotiating the pitfalls at the heart of monogamous polemics and brittle identity politics. If we are steadfast believers in sticking to the singular in our love lives, then surely our affections for places, peoples, histories, languages and countries could and should escape the girdle of the singular and unique and spill, joyously, into the plural and polyphonic. As Hamid Dabashi says, “Every home has its abroad.” Why is the collective more important than the individual in how you identify yourselves? Working collectively requires engaging with what Paul Ricoeur called linguistic hospitality, or expropriating oneself out of one’s own language into the other’s language, and appropriating the other’s language into oneself. Do you see yourselves as both artists and curators? How do these practices feed each other for you? Do you ever feel conflicted between the two roles? The Marker experience has only further honed our respect for the distinction between the work of an artist and that of a curator.
Certainly we share with curators a commitment to discourse. More often than not, the curator looks to art as material, as research, as a discipline for their starting point. We, Slavs and Tatars, almost never look to art in this way, but rather to history, language politics, mysticism. Each art work allows for an activation of this investigation. What is ‘a regime of portraiture’ in the context of Marker at Art Dubai? A regime of portraiture is an editorial framework that allows us to tell the story of two distinct regions – the Caucasus and Central Asia – through representation and self-representation. These regions share with the UAE and the Gulf a relatively recent history of nation-building narratives: representation becomes one tool amongst many for exploring identity from the bottom-up as well as from the top-down. Can you give the Art Paper a preview of what will be exhibited at Marker? We are very excited to be able to push beyond the ever-amnesiac confines of contemporaneity, and as such will be showing the late and great Sergei Maslov, a Kazakh artist, whose cosmic paintings underline a very real and equally imagined topography. Also on view will be pieces by Giorgi Xaniashvili, from Tbilissi, who brings together the worlds of faith and sensuality in an unexpected manner. We are also thrilled to be able to present five new artist’s books in partnership with Onestar press.
jeddah arts diary
words: miriam lloyd-evans
Curator Miriam Lloyd-Evans shares her experience of attending the inaugural 21,39 Jeddah Arts, founded by the Saudi Art Council under the patronage of Princess Jawaher bint Majed bin Abdulaziz and running concurrently with the second Jeddah Art Week. Both programmes hosted a series of exhibitions, gallery openings, workshops and events in the Mecca province’s largest city this February
JOTTINGS FROM JEDDAH
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“It felt great to be back!”
I left behind a London that was experiencing the wettest January since records began and arrived in Jeddah to step into its oven-like heat on the runway. It felt great to be back! I knew I had arrived by the familiar rhythmic ritual of prayer-time at the terminal. I was here for a week of art organised by the Saudi Art Council under the initiative 21,39 Jeddah Arts – the numbers reflecting the geographical
coordinates of the city. To my surprise, I arrived in the hotel room to find a canvas bag awaiting me (you can take the art week all the way to the desert but somehow the ubiquitous canvas bag still finds you) that contained a hand-crafted abaya, the publication Contemporary Kingdom, some delicious local dates, and the programme for the festival. It looked like I was in for a good week.
Before bed there was just time to visit Jeddah Art Week’s exhibition openings, where to me it felt that artists’ solo shows sat somewhat uncomfortably next to works up for auction with Sotheby’s in Doha next month. A definite highlight however was the first ever example of exhibited artwork by Jeddah’s Philippino workers in the form of a photography exhibition named Kakaibang.
Off to Dar Al-Hekma University for a panel discussion on Middle Eastern Contemporary Art Institutions, with Saudi artist Ahmed Mater and filmmaker Ahd Kamel, plus representatives from Sharjah Art Foundation, Art Dubai, Edge of Arabia and FIND projects. Saudi Arabia now finds itself at a juncture as it tries to rebalance the rapid success of the market for Saudi art with a process of maturation, enrichment and repatriation. There’s a healthy tension between those two directions in the
scene. It’s a power struggle in a way, between those in the driving seat, those in the back seat, and those in another vehicle altogether who are trying to overtake. This is generating questions such as: Who are the rightful leaders of the scene? How should new educational and institutional models be formed here and what should they look like? How do we counteract the region’s event culture to create more sustained programmes for artists? Why do some people feel there isn’t enough room here for everyone?
Dana Awartani Orientalism 2010 PVC taped room L 250 x W 200 x H 230 cm Image courtesy of the artist and Athr Gallery
Nasser Al-Salem gives an interview at the opening night of 21,39 in front of his work An Adornment of Stars, 2014
“Who are the rightful leaders of the scene?”
I had the pleasure of visiting Darat Safeya Binzagr, the house of a modernist who trained at Central St Martins art school in London, for a welcome by the families behind 21,39 Jeddah Arts. It was inaugurated by the chic Princess Jawaher bint Majed bin Abdulaziz, followed by an informative talk on the beginnings of the art scene in Saudi in the Fifties. That there has in fact always been art here is often overlooked by the international art world and changing this misperception is clearly one of this week’s missions, led by the visionary Hamza Serafi, the founder of Athr Gallery. Next up were two exhibitions that boosted my positive feeling about
the way the Saudi art scene is now developing its own real inner momentum. The first, Moallaqat, which references the early Arab phenomenon of poems hung around the Ka’ba and picks up on their themes of history, love and others, through contemporary art. The second, Past is Prologue shows the work of the Saudi modernists who paved the way for today. I felt inspired by Dana Awrtani’s colourful work about the disparity between regional costume and modern day consumerism, Nasser Al Salem’s An Adornment of Stars that explores the revolving nature of the universe through the suras of the Qu’ran, and a painted silk screen by Mounirah Mously.
4 here. Entering through one of the three old gates, we took a wonderful tour where we saw details like handcarved wooden balconies and were serenaded by musicians as we sat down to breakfast in a beautiful jasmine garden. At midday we walked around the new Jeddah Sculpture Park. Former Mayor Mohammed Said Farsi acquired over 220 sculptures for Jeddah in the Seventies and Eighties to complement the huge wave of development that was happening. The collection he built up includes works by Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, and Aref El Rayess. After decades of wear and tear, several
enthusiasts led by Basma AlSulaiman, supported by the Jameel Family, have been instrumental in creating this purpose-built sculpture park. Hats off to their huge achievement. The evening was spent at Athr Gallery for the beautifully-curated exhibition Liminality, by the Lebanese artist Ziad Antar, it was a documentation of the Jeddah sculptures during restoration, in photographs and concrete casts. We heard a talk by Ahmed Mater about his Unofficial History of Mecca project, which documents its controversial development and again underlined the need for bodies like UNESCO to protect the integrity of such sites.
Joan Miro, Personage II, at the Jeddah Sculpture Park
Ziad Antar, Liminality at Athr Gallery
Al Balad District
We started with a 7am tour of Al Balad, the old town of Jeddah, happily soon to become a UNESCO world heritage site. Special attention has been given to its clean-up, restoration and development, and its evolution as a place of inspiration and creativity. Graffiti artist elSeed painted the whole façade of one building in a performance with Jeddah Art Week and the results are stunning. Our guide, Sameer, tells us that Al Balad is 3,000 years old and originally established by fishermen and tribes from Yemen. In 1947 it had 40,000 people while today there are more than 5 million! Fact of the day: Eve, the ‘Mother of Mankind’, is reputedly buried
“fact of the day: Eve, the ‘Mother of Mankind’, is reputedly buried in Jeddah”
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jeddah arts diary
words: miriam lloyd-evans
We attended the first ever art exhibition in Medina, curated by my colleague at the British Museum Venetia Porter and Agial Gallery’s Saleh Barakat. We entered the motorway lane for ‘nonMuslims only’ taking us to the only hotel available to us. After a quick tour around the Medina Museum (it recently re-opened, set in an old train station) we went on to the exhibitions
Word and Illumination. The standout piece was by Rashad Alakbarov; he created light silhouettes made out of a piece of electrical wire, against which he shone a bright light onto a blank wall to make the word ‘Nur’ (light). This felt like an appropriately positive ending to what had turned out to be a brave and enlightening week. Thank you Jeddah!
The 21,39 Symposium was excellent. Chris Dercon, from the Tate, spoke about instituting art (setting in motion, getting going, laying the foundation of taking care of artists) versus doctoring art (tampering with it or buying it only as an investment). For Dercon, the regional capitals of instituting art are Beirut, Sharjah and Jeddah. Manal Al-Dowayan and I slipped out to visit some artists’ studios. Over strong Turkish coffee Aymon Yossri Daydban animatedly tells us about his
new project Abu (Father), for which he journeyed to Paris, immersing himself in the democratic process of voting – queuing, entering the booth, mocking the opposing party in posters. This doubly-counters Saudi culture as many Saudis will never experience such democracy and, being a society that reveres the father as the figurehead and similarly the paternalistic state as an ultimate authority, the act of critiquing those in power can seem bizarre, alien, and exciting in Saudi.
Safeya Binzager, Zaboun, 1969, Oil on wood, 80x60 cm, Image courtesy of the Darat Safeya Binzagr
Manal AlDowayan, Detail from The Tree of Guardians, 2014
“For the Tate’s Chris Dercon, the regional capitals of instituting art are Beirut, Sharjah and Jeddah”
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the new ka art space
words: kasia maciejowska
Saliba Douaihy Sirca, Untitled, 1970, acrylic on canvas
The newly-opened KA Modern & Contemporary Art Space sees itself as a stand in for the long-awaited museum of modern art that Beirut still lacks
Paul Guiragossian, Autour de L’Enfant, 1985, oil on canvas
Marwan Sahmarani, La Fusillade, 2013, oil on canvas
ART HISTORY MADE PUBLIC
rriving at Residence Marina Bay, in Dbayeh, you leave your car in the hands of the valet before riding the elevator to the top floor of the sandy-coloured luxury apartment building before stepping out to face a panorama over the Mediterranean bordered by neatly parked yachts. Such an entry experience is far from typical when arriving at a museum, yet the founders of KA Modern and Contemporary Art Space believe their new venue can offer something similar to one for the enjoyment of the art-viewing public in Beirut. Certainly this collection of modern and contemporary painting and sculpture is of an exemplary standard and extensive enough to qualify as museum-grade (KA owns 700 works and exhibits 100 at a time). Yet the personal nature of how it has been formed leaves a question mark over whether this new exhibition space should be considered as having such an influential role in how the story of 20th and 21st century art from the Levant is portrayed in its cultural and geographical heartland of Beirut. The KA space (the initials stand for the last names of its owners, Abraham Karabajakian and Roger Akoury) opened in January of this year. It leans more towards modern than contemporary, and currently shows works by artists such as Huguette Caland, Paul
Guiragossian, Saliba Douaihy, Shafic Abboud and Aref el Rayess, all of whom are considered to be seminal to the art history of the region during the past hundred-orso years. The logic behind how the works here are organised is purely based on a personal view on aesthetics, and the space is divided into several bays that allow for plenty of art to be exhibited within the 900-square-metre area. The main hall looks out over the water and contains two reading areas where art books and magazines can be enjoyed on sofas and coffee tables beside the full wall of windows. KA is an impressive space that is packed with outstanding art, but it needs to become more accessible to come anywhere close to playing the role of a museum. In addition to needing an appointment to visit, its location and ambience are notably exclusive to the general public of Beirut, keeping the feel of the place firmly within private collection territory. “So far our visitors have tended to be those who are already very passionate about art but of course we hope to open it up so that people can become passionate.” Exhibiting a collection like this is important because despite Beirut’s reputation as the cultural hub of the Middle East, its finest examples of visual art are too often hard to find in the flesh. For visitors to the
city, KA provides a concise yet rich showcase of the region’s modern canon, while for those already familiar with the artists and their best-known works, it offers a comparative overview of the regional modern art milieu and the chance to view particular notable works that have previously not been on show. The personal taste of the collectors behind KA has resulted in a portfolio with a bright colour palette and a temperate balance between abstraction and the figurative. Karabajakian describes his taste as being for, “Fresh, modern colours,” and says he buys without an advisor, dedicating 50 per cent of his time to building the collection. “I
choose what is right for this collection. I never studied anything in art, it’s just something I like. I don’t think you ‘decide’ to collect, you just start buying pieces and then it’s happening and before you know it people tell you that you’re a collector.” Before opening KA, Karabajakian and Akoury were already business partners in Romania. Their joint collection has been hanging in private for two years prior to the opening of KA. Karabajakian estimates that Beirut will open a national modern art museum in three years from now, saying, “We’re working on it”. In the meantime he is plugging the gap quite admirably with KA.
KA Modern & Contemporary Art Space, Beirut
KA Modern and Contemporary Art Space, Marina Bay, Dbayeh, Beirut is open to the public on Saturdays between 11am and 6pm by appointment.
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At the start of this year the photography festival Photomed was held outside of France for the first time as Beirut played host host all all over over town town to to the the near-two-month-long near-two-month-long exhibition. exhibition
The Mediterranean in Beirut
photo med: review
ince it first opening back in 2010 Photomed’s mission has been to bring together, through photography, the cultures and peoples of ‘the white middle sea’, as the Mediterranean is described in Arabic. The idea behind the series of simultaneous exhibitions, which were held across the Lebanese capital in January and February, was to portray cities from the Mediterranean coastline in order to give an insight of this densely inhabited and fast-changing part of the world. The work of the late Italian photographer Gabriele
words: alberto mucci
Costa-Gavras, Dominique Blanc , 1993
Basilico, whose career has almost entire-ly centred around the representation of urban spaces, was a highlight at the event. His black and white photographs of Naples, Valencia and other Southern Mediterranean cities reminded visitors of the classic beauty of the region in days long gone by. Besides the photo of the Italian maestro, the Beiruti version of Photomed sought to bring together the diverse photographic styles of Lebanese, Greek and French artists. From neo-realist shots depicting scenes of daily life, to snapshots of landscapes,
all the way to photographs of iconic build-ings that embody the spirit of a city. In demonstration of the eclectic nature of the show, Beirut Photomed organizers scattered the exhibition between numerous venues across town. Station, the postindustrial warehouse space beside the Beirut Art Centre in Sin el Fil Jisr-El-Wati, was chosen to host the festi-val’s video-installations, while the downtown Beirut Souks were home to the photography of Greek film-maker CostaGravas, his fellow countryman Stratis Vogiatzis, and Lebanese photographer Tony Hage.
The walls of Saifi Village gave a temporary home to Fouad Elkoury’s work, a number of up-and-coming Lebanese photographers chosen by the festival, and selected pieces by Katerina Kaloudi, another Greek photographer. Italian photographer Nino Migliori was hosted by the Achrafieh branch of Byblos Bank, while the French Cultur-al Institute gave a roof to the works of compatriots Guy Mandery and Jacques Filiu. All in all there was plenty going on, but here we select our favourite exhibitions and describe them for those who couldn’t be there:
Fouad ElKhoury, La Piscine, Beirut, 2011
Katerine Kaloudi, Ile de Karapathos, Dodecanese, 1992
Katerina Kaloudi Katerina Kaloudi exhibited her black and white works that tell a fond story of her native Greece. She captures people, faces and moments in a delicate light. Kaloudi is an artist that works by subtraction rather than addition, by simple lines rather than convoluted spirals. Her photos that were on show, such as Sur un Bateau and Île de Karpatos, perfectly showed how her preference for simple geometric composition creates a feeling of elegance and nostalgia, through which she communicates her intimate relationship with daily life in Greece.
Fouad Elkhoury French-born but with deep links to Lebanon, Elkhoury’s work at Photomed stood as a demonstration of his long-lasting and tangled relationship with Beirut. Snippets from his 1984
series, Beyrouth Aller-Retour, were on show, and felt touching when seen in the context of the city as they explore the meaning of life when lived in a state of constant insecurity. Other fragments of the artist’s
work that were shown included moments from his personal life outside of Lebanon, offering an interesting counterpoint between life here and life away, as experienced by so many Lebanese emigrants.
Tony Hajj, Juliette Binoche, 1984
Tony Hage Half-French, half-Lebanese, the work exhibited by Tony Hage was a collection of portraits of friends and celebrities accumulated by the photographer throughout his life. From images of the legendary American jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie to the Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni, from Yves Saint Laurent to Azzedine Alaa and Issey Miyake – but our favourite was a snapshot of brilliant French actress Juliette Binoche, blocking the camera’s gaze artfully with her arm. Hage’s use of black and white, and his preference for close-ups over wide shots lend his pictures a sense of intimacy and allow him to convey his subject’s emotions at a specific moment, framing them as if in a classic film.
Guy Mandery Somewhere between a photo-journalist and an artist, Guy Mandery’s connection with the Mediterranean runs deep. In the artist statement presented at Photomed, Mandery referred to Mario Giacomelli as the photographer that influenced him the most.
This can be seen in the images chosen by the festival’s organizers such as Santorin or Salines d’Anfeh, in which Mandery’s use of black and white, along with what seems to be a search of horizontal rather than vertical lines, creates the overall effect of a neverchanging landscape.
Guy Mandery, Casa Antonello, Toscana Italie, 2000s
photo med: review
words: alberto mucci
during the Fifties. In both photographs – as in many others shot by Migliori - the person and his or her daily activities are the central focus. The exhibition also included some of Migliori’s later, more experimental work. Works of this period such as Le Temps Ralenti and Le Sexe Kitsch stand as a demonstration of the artist’s struggle with the concept of time and the methods he developed to deal with such a battle.
Nino Migliori, Dalla serie-Gente dell’Emilia, 1957
Nino Migliori One of the most successful Italian photographers of his generation, Migliori’s first steps into the world of photography were heavily influenced by the neo-realist school, the most important art movement of postwar Italy. This influence is visible in some of Migliori’s photographs such as his famous Équipe de Voile or in his Les Gens D’Emile, a portrait of the changing north-eastern Italian region
Joanna Andraos, Catalogue 3, 2012
Mihai Grecu, Coagulate, video still, 2008
Emile Issa, Project Shadows, 2012
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Nascent Lebanese Photography Paying homage to Lebanon’s own creative and emerging photographers, some of the country’s leading local talents were brought together in Saifi Village for a group show. Works in various styles sat sideby-side, including Mazen
Jannoun’s hyper-realistic portraits of the Lebanese coast, Joanna Andraos’s gothic and ghostly interior performances, Lara Zankoul’s cutesy fantasy scenarios, Tanya Traboulsi’s theatrical scenes, dreamlike narrative images by Emile Issa, and city snapshots by Ghadi Smat.
Stratis Vogiatzis The pertinent fascination of this Greek contributor with the disappearing culture of Mediterranean fishermen has pushed him to document the work of the men and women who spend their lives catching
food across the sea. His photographs depict the rarely witnessed experiences of fishermen in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Albania, whose lives are made up of lonely nights and low yields for a trade that is on the wane.
collector profile: rana sadik
words: rich thornton
Firas_Shehadeh - Guerrilla 8-bit, Fedayeen from Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Jordan 1969. 2013
Jaffar Khaldi, Cockroaches in Disguise, 2010 Pegasus Chair, Stephan Brazier Jones
Collector Profile: Rana Sadik
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“It all began with a three-legged chair”
t is difficult to say if art-starlet Rana Sadik is more of a collector or a philanthropist as her patronage of young artists is pretty much equal to her personal investment in contemporary art. A Palestinian from Kuwait, Sadik set up the art initiative MinRASY PROJECTS (which means projects from my head in Arabic) to produce creative projects and interventions in public spaces. As a pro-active supporter of emerging Arab artists, she is also a board member of leading Beirut art institution Ashkal Alwan and of the Palestinian human development group Welfare Association. When it comes to her personal collecting however, Sadik tends as much towards design pieces as she does towards traditional ‘art’. It all began with a three-legged chair. “I used to walk past a particular gallery every day and see this Pegasus chair by Mark Brazier-Jones in the window. There was nothing conventional about it. That was probably my tipping point into collecting design,” she explains. Rather touchingly, Sadik has vowed to give up collecting many times over the years but confesses that her passion for ownership simply won’t budge. “I am continuously committed to the idea that each piece I buy will be my last … but then the next one comes along…” The only unifying factor that ties Sadik’s entire collection together is her eye for politically aware art and the fact that she buys, in her own words, “Pieces that no one else would!”.
She reveals the mysterious, intimate and personal nature of collecting as she describes her approach, saying, “I don’t consciously seek to ensure that a work or art or a design piece fits a certain list of criteria, but somehow I do feel that there is something thematic going on with the art I purchase.” Because she often chooses works that are politically charged, Sadik is regretfully bound to keep her extensive collection within her own home,
rather than display it in more public conditions. “I have works that are important in that they document a specific time and history and I do not think these belong in my dining room. But my situation of living in Kuwait without a permanent residency, combined with the nature of many of my works, can create problems, so my current solution is to keep my art at home.” Sadik’s passionate and personal response to the act
of collecting can be seen as typical of many collectors in the Middle East when compared with the often more financially speculative approach taken by numerous collectors in the West. Her dual commitment to both developing a strong private collection and to stimulating cultural dialogue through nonprofit initiatives makes her a particularly interesting figure to follow as the Arab contemporary art world continues to evolve.
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The romantic Issue Glorious Haute Couture Cloud art by Berndnaut Smilde What to see at Design Days Dubai Reading poetry with Hemmerle The world's most beautiful gardens Special section curated by Mathaf director Abdellah Karroum 24 pages on Stylish Weddings
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Five leading galleries from Beirut recently exhibited at Art 14. So what did they bring to London’s newest art fair?
THE LEBANESE CONTINGENT
lebanon at art14
Huguette Caland, Maison de Freige, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 253 x 98 cm
rt14 is the new kid on the block that everyone is talking about. Conceived by British duo Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus, the fair’s second edition has been a fight by the pair to find their own space in an art market that has rarely been so crowded. Despite the challenge, reviews have shone a positive light on the new fair. British GQ called Art13 (last year’s edition) “Freeze, but cooler” while the Financial Times praised it for being, “Refreshingly different”. But how so? Art14 praises itself for being a “new global art fair” and its numbers seem to confirm this. This year’s stands hosted galleries from 38 different countries and exhibited works by both emerging and established artists. The newly curated section called Emerge focused on galleries less than seven years old, while the London First section showcased international art spaces that had not previously participated in any London art fair. These sections were a strategy conceived by the founders to keep the showcase dynamic whilst assuring that all newcomers have enough space to be properly seen. Among the newcomers, five Lebanese galleries presented their artists at Olympia Grand Hall, in West London. Each managed to reconstruct some of their particular identity on the Beirut art scene by exporting certain key works to catch the eye of the international collectors and gallerists at Art14.
words: alberto mucci
GALERIE JANINE RUBEIZ
Rana Raouda, La cle des songes, acrylic on canvas, 140x120 cm
Huguette Caland, Siamois, 1973 oil on canvas, 120x120 cm
Leading the set was Galerie Janine Rubeiz, one of Beirut’s oldest and most established art spaces. Founded in 1967, it lived throughout the long civil war and, despite the challenges, continues to promote and initiate exhibitions and events in its minimalist and elegant space in Beirut’s Raouche district. The owner has repeatedly shown her energy and ability to bring to life between six and eight temporary exhibitions each year. In London Galerie Janine Rubeiz showcased some of the best Lebanese artists out there. Names included
The second Lebanese household name at Art14 was the Gemmayze-based Art on 56th. Known throughout the region for its attentive focus on Syrian art, the artists it represented at the new fair reflected this well-deserved reputation. Among the artists chosen, Mouneer Al Shaarani was one to keep an eye out for. One of the Arab world’s most famous calligraphers, this artist’s work has appeared far from home many times, and one might call the Syrian calligrapher a guru within his own milieu. Throughout his career Al Shaarani was able to invent new calligraphic techniques that students from across the region come to Beirut
Tarek Bou Tayhi, Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 100x100 cm
ART ON 56TH
to learn and try to emulate. Other de facto maestro represented by Art on 56th was Naim Doumit. Born on Mount Lebanon in 1941, his sculptures are often enthusiastically referred to as, “One of Lebanon’s best”. During his long and tangled career the artist has worked with all sorts of materials: marble, wood, stone, bronze and metal, always achieving equally accomplished results. With few exceptions, anything Doumit placed his hands on becomes part of his challenge and artistic search for essence and purity. No matter what subject he is portraying – be it a man, a face, an expression or an interaction – this quest remains Naim Doumit’s goal.
Huguette Caland, Bassam Geitani, Charles Khoury, Rania Matar, Jamil Molaeb, Hanibal Srouji and Alain Vassoyan. Take Caland: she is the sort of one-of-a-kind artist who can be called, without exaggeration, a veteran. She was born in Beirut but, like many other Lebanese, grew up abroad. Having started her career in Los Angeles, she made a name for herself with her now-universally recognized nudes. It was here that she became known as both an exceptional sculptor and a graphic designer. At Art14, Janine Rubeiz presented Caland’s Siamois, her oil-on-canvas work
depicting a colourful twodimensional woman whose eyes seem to stand for the constant search that can characterize human life. Another artist represented by the gallery was Jamil Molaeb. The Beirut-born painter presented Langage Design, an oil-on-canvas work made up of a minimalist composition and squares of multiple bright colours. Similarly impressive were Hanibal Srouji’s mixed-media-oncanvas The Last Partidge and Rania Matar’s Isis2, Kingston, New York, both of which deal with what it means to be a Lebanese person living abroad.
Tanya Traboulsi, Untitled #1 Self Portrait Seules (2012) Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 40 x 40 cm
photographer showcased at Art14 by Tanit was Serge Najjar, whose work rose to fame via Instagram last year. His graphic depictions of urban spaces are somewhat opposite to Hage’s as his straight lines replace Hage’s chaotic faces and firm buildings take the place of insecure smiles and tired eyes.
Nacer, Statue De La Liberte, mixed media sculpture 24 X 30 Cm
project Here and Now. This collection of portraits shows young Lebanese between the age of 18 and 30 all posing in the same position. Other works include the wittily-named Phone[Ethics], a collection of snapshots of women’s cleavages sneakily taken with the artist’s cell-phone and collected over the years. Another
Mona Hatoum, No way III, 1996 Stainless steel Edition 4/6 Height 10 cm, Diameter 25 cm
An established player on the Northern European art market, Galerie Tanit presented its signature contemporary works at the London fair. Thanks to its sister branch in Munich, Germany, the gallery was able to showcase to fair-goers a great number of works by international artists. The most noticeable Lebanese names among them were Gilbert Hage, Serge Najjar and Ghassan Zard. The first is an old acquaintance of Galerie Tanit which first worked with the artist in Munich in 2004 and then again in 2012. During this period Hage worked on his photographic
The Mark Hachem gallery is unusual on the Lebanese art scene: it first started abroad – in Paris and then New York - to open only later in Lebanon. A bet that worked out well for a man who abandoned his career after discovering a devouring passion for art. His latest bet was Art14, the London fair where Hachem brought together some of the best talents he discovered throughout his time as a gallerist. Among the works presented were those of Lalla Essaydi, the Moroccanborn and US-educated visual photographer, Nacer, the
Algeria-born, France-based artist, and Yves Hayat, the Egyptian-born and Frencheducated photographer and artist. The first, Essaydi, made a name for herself by exploring the complex reality of Arab female identity and playing with the concept of Orientalism. In her work she often plays with Western stereotypes of the Arab region and its women as exoticised objects. The second artist, Nacer, expresses a different tension in his work: the one between how the world actually is and how the artist would like it to be.
Yves Hayat, Untitled 24
Two realities that, according to the artist, never been so different and difficult to grasp. An example of Nacer’s struggle with this expanding gap is his work Les Fleurs du Mal, an Ak47 where the usually wooden parts have been replaced by spikes resembling those
of a rose’s stem. The third artist, Hayat, comes from a long and successful career in advertisement. This background is noticeable in Hayat’s adept manipulation of photographic images to render works that can be both beautiful and discomforting.
lebanon at art14
words: alberto mucci
Dario Alvarez, Basso Hoyo de Manzanares, 2013 Acrylic on canvas 100 x 89 cm
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ART FACTUM The youngest gallery present at Art14 was Art Factum. This new space is based in the up-and-coming postindustrial port district of Karantina and since its birth, in 2011, has continuously attended international fairs. The gallery run by Joy Mardini showcased the artists it has grown up with. One of these is Spain’s Dario Alvarez Basso. His work as a painter started in the Eighties and was influenced both by the Italian trans-avanguardia movement and the German neo-expressionist school. In contrast to these movements, however, Basso’s work doesn’t focus on the human condition so much as on the infinite wonders of nature. Another
artist that has been with Art Factum from the start is young Moroccan-French photographer Leila Alaoui. The multimedia-artist’s work researches Moroccan heritage and the politics of displacement in the region. Tanya Traboulsi’s photographs also made it to Art14. The Austrianborn (Lebanese by descent) photographer has spent much of her recent career focusing on Beirut’s alternative music scene. Long loud nights in underground venues around town gave birth to her first publication in 2010 called Untitled Tracks: On Alternative Music in Beirut; pieces from the series brought a different side of Lebanon the fair.
under construction* Opening reception in the presence of the artist Wednesday 2nd April from 6pm Exhibition continues 3rd April – 26th April 2014
Galerie Janine Rubeiz Majdalani bldg. Charles de Gaulle Avenue Raouche, Beirut, Lebanon +961 (0)1 868 290 firstname.lastname@example.org www.galeriejaninerubeiz.com
*“Isn’t everything, including myself, under construction?”
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Can miniaturisation and representation throw light on the worries of a people? Michael Anastassiades’ installation series Reload the Current Page, now showing in Cyprus, suggests it can
catalogue extract: reload the current page
words: kasia maciejowska
Sentiment Indicator, sandstone, photo: Hélène Binet
he conceptual designer Michael Anastassiades returned to his homeland Cyprus this Winter to present the exhibition Reload the Current Page, a critical reappraisal of the island’s abiding preoccupations. The exhibition, installed at the Point Centre, shows a series of sculptures-cum-designedobjects that the designer
describes as addressing, “The contemporary anxieties of the modern Cypriot”. His pieces, which sit arranged in precise relation to the geometric spaces of the gallery, are forms of different characters, ranging from textured spheres in local sandstone to smooth bodily-looking forms sculpted in diabase, another local stone, to linear light sculptures – the
latter being Anastassiades’ signature. To create these he has interpreted certain natural forms from the Cypriot landscape, zoning in on those that are particularly resonant within the native imagination, or creating naturalistic shapes that symbolise popular Cypriot sentiments. In the first of our series of writings taken directly
from exhibition catalogues, the extracts on the right come from an essay written to accompany Reload the Current Page, by Londonbased author, curator and design historian Emily King. The images shown here, also from the catalogue, were taken by renowned Swiss-French architectural photographer Hélène Binet.
catalogue extract RELOAD THE CURRENT PAGE By Emily King
“Some people lose their sense of proportion, I’ve lost my sense of scale.” Will Self, Scale, 1992
Jibutsu-Seki, basalt, photo: Hélène Binet
Zap (foreground), sandstone; Shooting Star (background), pine and glass, photo: Hélène Binet
15032012 (foreground), 15032013 (centre), 15032011 (background), sandstone and steel; Fairest (wall-mounted sphere), gold plated stainless steel, photo: Hélène Binet
[…] An economist’s model has something in common with a dolls’ house or a miniature railway. It is an approximation of the real world that allows its creator to have a sense of control. Children test their ideas about the world by playing God both with dolls and latterly digital characters. Likewise adults who find the world difficult to comprehend can find refuge in elaborate train sets. In his book The Savage Mind, published in 1962, the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss argued “the intrinsic value of a small-scale model is that it compensates for the renunciation of sensible dimensions by the acquisition of intelligible dimensions.” A Japanese suiseki rock could find a place within a model railway or near a dolls’ house, but the impulse behind its school of miniaturisation is different. Suiseki rocks are selected for their resemblance to other, usually larger scale natural features such as mountain ranges or islands, but the relationships are suggestive not exact. […] A suiseki is not a simplification, it is kind of analogy. It prompts meditation on what one form might reveal about another. The central piece in Michael Anastassiades’s exhibition ‘Reload the Current Page’ is titled ‘Jimbutsu-seki’, which is the name for a suiseki stone that evokes the form of a human body. Unlike a suiseki, however, this piece was crafted not discovered. It is carved from black basalt, a volcanic stone common in Cyprus, according to the dimensions of the Pentadaktylos mountain mass, part of the Kyrenia mountain range that runs parallel to the northern coast of the island. […] Its resemblance to a hand has generated numerous myths and it is variously said to be a handful of earth that was flung at or pushed toward an enemy or the handprint of the island’s saviour has he emerged from the sea. These myths have accrued resonance in the last forty years, since when the mountains have been in the Turkish side of the island, yet have remained highly visible from the Greek. Pentadaktylos can be seen from the island’s divided capital Nicosia. […] The Greek-Turkish conflict remains live, but times have changed. Currently the Cypriots’ most pressing concern is the state of the island’s finances. Yet somehow one crisis has merged into another and national anxieties have become non-specific. In taking the emotionally resonant and physically reminiscent form of Pentadaktylos and scaling it down, Michael has made an emblem for all of the islanders’ concerns. ‘Jimbutsu-seki’ embodies both the Greek Cypriots’ fears of invasion and their unease about economic collapse. While the act of miniaturisation and simplification usually implies some kind of manageability, in this case of worries are represented, perhaps even mitigated some, but the underlying problems remain stubbornly unsolved. […] While reduction and simplification are used to render things manageable - from economic relationships to train networks – magnification is employed to create complexity and reveal hidden truths. It is all a matter of perspective and proportion. It’s all about scale. Significantly in this exhibition Michael reduces the features of Cyprus as a whole, but enlarges the small piece of the island that he has kept as a souvenir these past 25 years. It’s interesting that he feels safe to expand and explore his personal connection with Michaelides, but, when it comes to the state of the nation, he feels the need for reduction and containment. The exhibition continues at the Point Centre for Contemporary Art until 26th April 2014
art about science
words: rich thornton
B-Floor Theatre, Wandering Moon, shadow installation 2013 Courtesy of: B-Floor Theatre/ Wandering Moon
Katie Paterson, Fossil Necklace, 2013 Photo: MJC, Courtesy of the artist
Lena Bui, Voracious embrace II, 2012 Photo: Lena Bui
Foreign Bodies - Common Ground is a multinational art project led by London’s Wellcome Collection that invites artists into medical research centres to shed light on the mysteries of science
Children’s graffiti, 2012 Courtesy of : Elson Kambalu and the children of Mawila Primary School, Chikhwawa
global Body Art
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ince the birth of formal thought, art and science have been viewed as two opposing ways of examining humankind’s biggest questions. While art speaks of the soul and feeling, science demands facts, logic and proof. Six years ago, the Londonbased Wellcome Collection was formed as a challenge to this division. The organisation believes both scientists and artists fit into the same category: people who are, in their words, “Incurably curious”. As a result, the Wellcome Collection is a museum that looks for the links between medicine, life and art. Having previously erected investigative exhibitions relating to such varied subjects as Mexican miracle paintings, illegal and legal drug culture, and the ubiquity of dirt, the Wellcome’s most recent project asks artists to be the link between medical research and how the general public perceive it. Foreign Bodies Common Ground is an international project that asked six artists to each explore a medical research centre and create works in relation to their experience. Artists from Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and the UK spent six months in their respective home countries with dazzlingly various results. Vietnamese artist Lêna Bùi explores the disease-related hazards of working with dead animals, scientifically known as zoonosis. Fascinated by the “unexpected messiness” of research at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, she made sculptures, paintings and films that not
only illuminate the visceral nature of food production, but also the relationship that the producers have to the animals. Her seven-minute film, Where Birds Dance the Last, is a beautiful mediation on the unmechanised separation of feathers for pillows and dusters; the masked women who rake and sieve them appear as fragile as the soft objects scattered around them. Katie Paterson had a calmer and smoother experience in Cambridge which led to fittingly polished results. After discovering the intricacies
of genome archeology, she crafted a necklace using beads made from fossils and organic materials that are over a million years old. Iridescent balls of rock join pearl-like orbs of bone in a multi-coloured, multi-millennia piece of jewellery that charts celldevelopment from the origin of life on earth to the first human ancestors. While Paterson’s necklace reflects the delicate micro-science of lab-based genetics, Elson Kambalu’s community art in Malawi explores how local women and children understand their own medicine and health. After interviewing scientists at the Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust, he asked locals to make graffiti and traditional earth-murals to dramatise their concerns around AIDS, blood-rituals and the spirit world, all very present in contemporary Malawian culture. The choice to display these amateur works alongside Kambalu’s own sculpture at the exhibition reveals the Wellcome Collection’s outreach mentality and inclusive attitude towards the art it presents.
Both the project reports and the exhibition itself communicate very strongly how involved the artists became with each local community in Foreign Bodies – Common Ground. B-Floor Theatre used a dance-based show (as opposed to a verbal one) to represent disease in an area of Thailand where nine different languages are spoken; artists in Kenya asked locals to take portraits in a pop-up studio wearing customised white lab coats; and the people of Mtubatuba in South Africa were asked to photographically represent what they understood by the term ‘health’. As part of the bio-medical research institution The Wellcome Collection aims to engage people in the mysteries of medical science. Foreign Bodies - Common Ground not only connects individuals by showing the unity of personal health concerns, but reveals how diverse human understanding of medical research can be, and how art can serve as a communicative medium for difficult, scientific or transcultural subjects.
Five Decades of Painting and Innovation Curated by Maymanah Farhat 19 February - 30 April 2014
ayyam gallery|al quoz www.ayyamgallery.com