Page 1


contents

6 rose Issa

33 Arabicity

118 Khaled Barakeh

Art: a weapon of

34 Mona Hatoum

122 Buthayna Ali

mass discussion

38 Abdul Rahman Katanani

124 Bady Dalloul

42 Raeda Saadeh 22 georges corm

46 Amer Shomali

126 Hassan Hajjaj

Cultural Achievements vs

48 Emily Jacir

130 Batoul S’Himi

Arab Regimes’ Failures

50 Khalil Rabah

132 Zoulikha Bouabdellah

54 Taysir Batniji

134 Kader Attia

58 TareK Al-Ghoussein

138 Mounir Fatmi

60 Sharif Waked

142 Lalla Essaydi

62 Chant Avedissian

144 ManaL Al Dowayan

66 Fathi Hassan

146 Jowhara AlSaud

70 Susan Hefuna

148 Abdulnasser Gharem

74 Nabil Boutros

150 Ahmed Mater

26 michket Krifa The Wanderland of the Artist Citizen 30 etel adnan A Tragic Destiny?

78 Youssef Nabil 154 Bibliography 82 Ayman Baalbaki

158 Acknowledgements

86 Tagreed Darghouth 90 Katya Traboulsi 92 Said Baalbaki 96 Nada Sehnaoui 98 Rabih Mroué 100 Walid Raad 102 Marwan Rechmaoui 104 Adel Abidin 108 Mahmoud Obaidi 112 Ayad Alkadhi 114 Jananne al-Ani

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contents

6 rose Issa

33 Arabicity

118 Khaled Barakeh

Art: a weapon of

34 Mona Hatoum

122 Buthayna Ali

mass discussion

38 Abdul Rahman Katanani

124 Bady Dalloul

42 Raeda Saadeh 22 georges corm

46 Amer Shomali

126 Hassan Hajjaj

Cultural Achievements vs

48 Emily Jacir

130 Batoul S’Himi

Arab Regimes’ Failures

50 Khalil Rabah

132 Zoulikha Bouabdellah

54 Taysir Batniji

134 Kader Attia

58 TareK Al-Ghoussein

138 Mounir Fatmi

60 Sharif Waked

142 Lalla Essaydi

62 Chant Avedissian

144 ManaL Al Dowayan

66 Fathi Hassan

146 Jowhara AlSaud

70 Susan Hefuna

148 Abdulnasser Gharem

74 Nabil Boutros

150 Ahmed Mater

26 michket Krifa The Wanderland of the Artist Citizen 30 etel adnan A Tragic Destiny?

78 Youssef Nabil 154 Bibliography 82 Ayman Baalbaki

158 Acknowledgements

86 Tagreed Darghouth 90 Katya Traboulsi 92 Said Baalbaki 96 Nada Sehnaoui 98 Rabih Mroué 100 Walid Raad 102 Marwan Rechmaoui 104 Adel Abidin 108 Mahmoud Obaidi 112 Ayad Alkadhi 114 Jananne al-Ani

5


ro se is s a A r t: a w e a p on of m a s s dis cu s sion

Installation shot of Arabicity at the Beirut Exhibition Center, 2010

This publication came from a need to assemble some of the works seen in previous exhibitions that I curated around the same theme: ReOrientations (European Parliament, Brussels, 2008), Arabicity (Bluecoat, Liverpool and Beirut Exhibition Center, 2010), Reorientations II, London 2012, and Ourouba (Beirut Art Fair, 2017). The catalogues quickly went out of print, hence the need to gather some of the works already shown, while adding artists and artworks that I had hitherto been unable to access: pieces that reflect the aesthetic, conceptual and socio-political concerns of Arab artists in the past four decades.

express themselves and transcend nationalism. The subject matter is not so much about politics nor polemics, but a multi-layering of Arab contemporary history, visually, because art has the ability to describe the complexity of the world.

When twenty-two polymorphous countries share the same language, geographical and historical sphere, and most share the same religion, is there a common cultural link? Arabicity (my translation of the word Ourouba) is a response to this question; it explores Arab concerns artistically and socio-politically. Whether from within or outside the Arab world, it shows how Arab artists resist stereotyping, challenge the confines of their identity, reshape the parameters of their traditions and bring visual poetry to life.

THE FORMAT: from Palestine to the Gulf The format follows the sequence of wars and key moments of change that mobilised the mind and politics of the Arab world: moments of dispossession, hope, independence, war, violence, direct or indirect colonialism, pride, loss and human rights concerns. Today these issues remain relevant to artists and the general public alike – for the physical and psychological damages, with their unrecorded casualties, are still vivid.

Arabicity (Ourouba) is also about the different routes and roots that artists from the Arab world choose. It forms a space in which they express their response to the personal, national, regional and international issues affecting the Arab world – why we do what we do and accept what is done to us; how we can resist clichés, injustice, opportunism and sometimes opportunities. In showcasing the work of some fifty artists, from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, it explores the existential, the loss of cultural and social history in today’s political and artistic landscape, and the sense of impermanence.

We start with artists from Palestine, one of the first historical issues to augur the dismantling of the Middle East; then comes Egypt, which was at the heart of Pan-Arabism; it is followed by artists from Lebanon, a country that witnessed decades of civil war and invasions and produced a whole generation of young artists who remember only conflict. Then Iraq, whose cultural past was looted and destroyed after the first Gulf War of 1991, and the invasion of 2003, which forced many artists to flee their country. In Syria, which is still undergoing destruction by many uninvited armies and militias, many artists stopped working or had to leave the country. In North Africa, many artists have had a foot in Europe: the legacies of colonisation, uprisings, restoration and otherness are found in their work. Finally, we encounter works from a few artists from the Gulf who capture different inner tensions resulting from stagnation versus growth.

This publication hopes to shed some light on the rich but fragmented narrative of Arab contemporary art: recognising the artists’ vision and acknowledging the tightrope they cross skilfully and subtly in order to

8

Arabicity is of course far from being an exhaustive anthology of Arab artists, and we are aware of the gaps that a project with such a broad scope may have. Also, many of the artists in this book have a wideranging portfolio and create and produce work unrelated to the Arab world: we have not focused on that body of work here.

9


ro se is s a A r t: a w e a p on of m a s s dis cu s sion

Installation shot of Arabicity at the Beirut Exhibition Center, 2010

This publication came from a need to assemble some of the works seen in previous exhibitions that I curated around the same theme: ReOrientations (European Parliament, Brussels, 2008), Arabicity (Bluecoat, Liverpool and Beirut Exhibition Center, 2010), Reorientations II, London 2012, and Ourouba (Beirut Art Fair, 2017). The catalogues quickly went out of print, hence the need to gather some of the works already shown, while adding artists and artworks that I had hitherto been unable to access: pieces that reflect the aesthetic, conceptual and socio-political concerns of Arab artists in the past four decades.

express themselves and transcend nationalism. The subject matter is not so much about politics nor polemics, but a multi-layering of Arab contemporary history, visually, because art has the ability to describe the complexity of the world.

When twenty-two polymorphous countries share the same language, geographical and historical sphere, and most share the same religion, is there a common cultural link? Arabicity (my translation of the word Ourouba) is a response to this question; it explores Arab concerns artistically and socio-politically. Whether from within or outside the Arab world, it shows how Arab artists resist stereotyping, challenge the confines of their identity, reshape the parameters of their traditions and bring visual poetry to life.

THE FORMAT: from Palestine to the Gulf The format follows the sequence of wars and key moments of change that mobilised the mind and politics of the Arab world: moments of dispossession, hope, independence, war, violence, direct or indirect colonialism, pride, loss and human rights concerns. Today these issues remain relevant to artists and the general public alike – for the physical and psychological damages, with their unrecorded casualties, are still vivid.

Arabicity (Ourouba) is also about the different routes and roots that artists from the Arab world choose. It forms a space in which they express their response to the personal, national, regional and international issues affecting the Arab world – why we do what we do and accept what is done to us; how we can resist clichés, injustice, opportunism and sometimes opportunities. In showcasing the work of some fifty artists, from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, it explores the existential, the loss of cultural and social history in today’s political and artistic landscape, and the sense of impermanence.

We start with artists from Palestine, one of the first historical issues to augur the dismantling of the Middle East; then comes Egypt, which was at the heart of Pan-Arabism; it is followed by artists from Lebanon, a country that witnessed decades of civil war and invasions and produced a whole generation of young artists who remember only conflict. Then Iraq, whose cultural past was looted and destroyed after the first Gulf War of 1991, and the invasion of 2003, which forced many artists to flee their country. In Syria, which is still undergoing destruction by many uninvited armies and militias, many artists stopped working or had to leave the country. In North Africa, many artists have had a foot in Europe: the legacies of colonisation, uprisings, restoration and otherness are found in their work. Finally, we encounter works from a few artists from the Gulf who capture different inner tensions resulting from stagnation versus growth.

This publication hopes to shed some light on the rich but fragmented narrative of Arab contemporary art: recognising the artists’ vision and acknowledging the tightrope they cross skilfully and subtly in order to

8

Arabicity is of course far from being an exhaustive anthology of Arab artists, and we are aware of the gaps that a project with such a broad scope may have. Also, many of the artists in this book have a wideranging portfolio and create and produce work unrelated to the Arab world: we have not focused on that body of work here.

9


26

bahia shehab, A Thousand Times NO, street campaign graffiti, each approx. 70 x 50 cm, Cairo, 2011 27


26

bahia shehab, A Thousand Times NO, street campaign graffiti, each approx. 70 x 50 cm, Cairo, 2011 27


e t el a dn a n A Tr agic Destiny?

The Arab world is a geographical area; therefore, geopolitically it covers an immense territory, in part desert. It occupies almost all of the south Mediterranean, then extends to Iran. There are in the Mashriq, or the Arab East, confusions such as ‘we are Phoenicians, therefore not Arabs’ – although the word ‘Phoenicia’ itself is a Greek word to describe the Canaanites of the coast, who came from the Arab Peninsula and whose language was Syriac, the immediate ancestor of Arabic. There is now an ‘Arab World’. There is an Arab Memory, which includes non-Arab worlds, such as Sumer or Ancient Egypt, and the history of all the region, which concerns mostly Assyrian, Babylonian and Syrian people. From ancient times these people used various versions of the Syriac language, from which the Arab language is born. There are several millennia of extraordinary history, which have given birth to a number of religions and many cultures still alive today – cultures that have shaped world history. There is an Arab Imaginary, a mix of reality and dreams, of future desires; it links peoples, both similar and different, creating a dynamic that characterises the Arab World, making it explosive and tragic. In the end it may be this sense of belonging to a tragic destiny, painful and yet essential, that links us one and all – us, the Arabs. Etel Adnan, Paris, November 2018

Etel Adnan is a Lebanese-American poet, essayist and visual artist based in Paris.

Batoul S’Himi, Monde Arabe Sous Pression, (Arab World Under Pressure), aluminium pressure cooker, 30 x 30 cm, 2014 32

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e t el a dn a n A Tr agic Destiny?

The Arab world is a geographical area; therefore, geopolitically it covers an immense territory, in part desert. It occupies almost all of the south Mediterranean, then extends to Iran. There are in the Mashriq, or the Arab East, confusions such as ‘we are Phoenicians, therefore not Arabs’ – although the word ‘Phoenicia’ itself is a Greek word to describe the Canaanites of the coast, who came from the Arab Peninsula and whose language was Syriac, the immediate ancestor of Arabic. There is now an ‘Arab World’. There is an Arab Memory, which includes non-Arab worlds, such as Sumer or Ancient Egypt, and the history of all the region, which concerns mostly Assyrian, Babylonian and Syrian people. From ancient times these people used various versions of the Syriac language, from which the Arab language is born. There are several millennia of extraordinary history, which have given birth to a number of religions and many cultures still alive today – cultures that have shaped world history. There is an Arab Imaginary, a mix of reality and dreams, of future desires; it links peoples, both similar and different, creating a dynamic that characterises the Arab World, making it explosive and tragic. In the end it may be this sense of belonging to a tragic destiny, painful and yet essential, that links us one and all – us, the Arabs. Etel Adnan, Paris, November 2018

Etel Adnan is a Lebanese-American poet, essayist and visual artist based in Paris.

Batoul S’Himi, Monde Arabe Sous Pression, (Arab World Under Pressure), aluminium pressure cooker, 30 x 30 cm, 2014 32

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arabicity I Ourouba From Palestine to the Gulf

34

35


arabicity I Ourouba From Palestine to the Gulf

34

35


A b d u l R a h m a n K ata n a n i

Abdul Rahman Katanani was born in 1983 in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon, where he still lives and works. He has a Diploma and MFA from the Lebanese University in Beirut. As a child, he began depicting the realities of the Palestinian refugees’ everyday life through painting, a subject matter that he continues to explore, more recently incorporating ‘found’ and recycled objects such as barbed wire in his artworks.

Wave, barbed wire, 200 x 400 cm, 2016. Dar El-Nimer Collection, Beirut

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Beach House, corrugated steel, variable dimension, 2012. Private collection The Girl with a Rope, corrugated steel and barbed wire, variable dimension, 2011. Private collection 41


A b d u l R a h m a n K ata n a n i

Abdul Rahman Katanani was born in 1983 in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon, where he still lives and works. He has a Diploma and MFA from the Lebanese University in Beirut. As a child, he began depicting the realities of the Palestinian refugees’ everyday life through painting, a subject matter that he continues to explore, more recently incorporating ‘found’ and recycled objects such as barbed wire in his artworks.

Wave, barbed wire, 200 x 400 cm, 2016. Dar El-Nimer Collection, Beirut

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Beach House, corrugated steel, variable dimension, 2012. Private collection The Girl with a Rope, corrugated steel and barbed wire, variable dimension, 2011. Private collection 41


r aeda sa adeh

In the Fairy Tales series, there are recognisable characters from familiar tales, such as Cinderella, Rapunzel or Little Red Riding Hood. Although the locations seem ordinary, the true tale is that history repeats itself in different forms: in the historical quarter of Jaffa, or the destroyed Palestinian village of Beit Jibril, and in the heart of the banking centre of Tel Aviv.

Cinderella, from the Fairy Tales series, C-type colour print, 2010 46

Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood, from the Fairy Tales series, C-type colour print, 2010 47


r aeda sa adeh

In the Fairy Tales series, there are recognisable characters from familiar tales, such as Cinderella, Rapunzel or Little Red Riding Hood. Although the locations seem ordinary, the true tale is that history repeats itself in different forms: in the historical quarter of Jaffa, or the destroyed Palestinian village of Beit Jibril, and in the heart of the banking centre of Tel Aviv.

Cinderella, from the Fairy Tales series, C-type colour print, 2010 46

Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood, from the Fairy Tales series, C-type colour print, 2010 47


sharif Waked

Born in Nazareth in 1964, Waked lives and works between Israel/Palestine and the United States. In his video Chic Point (2003), body parts peek through holes, gaps, and splits woven into ready-made garments. The clothes are designed to preempt the daily imperatives of soldiers, who order Palestinians to lift clothes and expose flesh as they cross checkpoints..

Chic Point juxtaposes the fashion show with documentary stills from checkpoints, placing the spectator in a position that paraphrases the soldier’s gaze. The haute fashion line transfers the marking from the body to the apparel, and to the ensuing playful possibilities inherent in the relationship between the clothes and those who are wearing and removing them.

Chic Point. Fashion for Israeli Checkpoints, Video, five minutes, 2003. Courtesy of the artist 62

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sharif Waked

Born in Nazareth in 1964, Waked lives and works between Israel/Palestine and the United States. In his video Chic Point (2003), body parts peek through holes, gaps, and splits woven into ready-made garments. The clothes are designed to preempt the daily imperatives of soldiers, who order Palestinians to lift clothes and expose flesh as they cross checkpoints..

Chic Point juxtaposes the fashion show with documentary stills from checkpoints, placing the spectator in a position that paraphrases the soldier’s gaze. The haute fashion line transfers the marking from the body to the apparel, and to the ensuing playful possibilities inherent in the relationship between the clothes and those who are wearing and removing them.

Chic Point. Fashion for Israeli Checkpoints, Video, five minutes, 2003. Courtesy of the artist 62

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Ch a nt Av edissi a n

Top row: Working Women – Jamal al-Din al-Afghani – Mariam Issa al-Banna – Amina Shokry – Mother of Boys Middle row: The Village Girl – The New Social Life at the High Dam, Aswan – Rockets of Our Country – Power to the People – Eve Votes Bottom row: Soviet-African Cooperation – Doria Shafik – Mrs Souad Labib – Amina Dahjour – Family at a Kom Ombo Social Club All works from the Icons of the Nile series, pigment and gum arabic on recycled cardboard, 50 x 70 cm, 1991–2004. Private collection, London. 66

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Ch a nt Av edissi a n

Top row: Working Women – Jamal al-Din al-Afghani – Mariam Issa al-Banna – Amina Shokry – Mother of Boys Middle row: The Village Girl – The New Social Life at the High Dam, Aswan – Rockets of Our Country – Power to the People – Eve Votes Bottom row: Soviet-African Cooperation – Doria Shafik – Mrs Souad Labib – Amina Dahjour – Family at a Kom Ombo Social Club All works from the Icons of the Nile series, pigment and gum arabic on recycled cardboard, 50 x 70 cm, 1991–2004. Private collection, London. 66

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F at h i H a s s a n

Al Adl (Justice), mixed media on paper, 179 x 161 cm, 2011. Collection of the artist Ourouba (Arabicity), mixed media on paper, 203 x 144 cm, 2011. Private collection, London 70

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F at h i H a s s a n

Al Adl (Justice), mixed media on paper, 179 x 161 cm, 2011. Collection of the artist Ourouba (Arabicity), mixed media on paper, 203 x 144 cm, 2011. Private collection, London 70

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susan Hefuna

Susan Hefuna, born in 1962 in Germany, has Egyptian and German roots. She works in a variety of media, including drawing, photography, sculpture, installation, video and performance. Her work takes in a range of influences and traditions from her travels around the world. This has enabled her to develop her own artistic language.

There are no straight lines in my works – as in nature, in which each leaf of a tree is unique, every flower exists only once, our bodies are unique, as is every cell. Structure is an important leitmotif for me. I connect dots and lines to communicate with the world.

Afaz Drawings, palm wood, variable dimensions, from the solo show ‘Susan Hefuna: Another Place’ at Bait Al Serkal, Sharjah 2014.Photo: Sarjah Art Foundation

Dream (Helm ), cast-bronze silver, 50 x 70 x 4 cm, 2009

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susan Hefuna

Susan Hefuna, born in 1962 in Germany, has Egyptian and German roots. She works in a variety of media, including drawing, photography, sculpture, installation, video and performance. Her work takes in a range of influences and traditions from her travels around the world. This has enabled her to develop her own artistic language.

There are no straight lines in my works – as in nature, in which each leaf of a tree is unique, every flower exists only once, our bodies are unique, as is every cell. Structure is an important leitmotif for me. I connect dots and lines to communicate with the world.

Afaz Drawings, palm wood, variable dimensions, from the solo show ‘Susan Hefuna: Another Place’ at Bait Al Serkal, Sharjah 2014.Photo: Sarjah Art Foundation

Dream (Helm ), cast-bronze silver, 50 x 70 x 4 cm, 2009

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ay m a n b a a l b a k i

Painter and installation artist Ayman Baalbaki was born in Lebanon in 1975. He studied fine arts at the Institut des Beaux-Arts in Beirut and the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD) in Paris, and the University of Paris 8. In work that is bold, striking and bursting with energy, he expresses his themes in layers of paint on canvas or colourful floral textiles, and makes the viewer relive the effect of modern warfare and collective trauma on his city. He lives and works in Beirut. I am part of a generation of artists and writers who lived through twenty years of war and have nothing to say other than war.

Destination X, Fiat 600, mixed media installation, ‘Arabicity’ exhibition at the Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool, 2010. Farjam Collection, Dubai Destination X, Toyota Sedan, mixed media installation, ‘Safar’ exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Vancouver, 2013 84

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ay m a n b a a l b a k i

Painter and installation artist Ayman Baalbaki was born in Lebanon in 1975. He studied fine arts at the Institut des Beaux-Arts in Beirut and the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD) in Paris, and the University of Paris 8. In work that is bold, striking and bursting with energy, he expresses his themes in layers of paint on canvas or colourful floral textiles, and makes the viewer relive the effect of modern warfare and collective trauma on his city. He lives and works in Beirut. I am part of a generation of artists and writers who lived through twenty years of war and have nothing to say other than war.

Destination X, Fiat 600, mixed media installation, ‘Arabicity’ exhibition at the Bluecoat Arts Centre, Liverpool, 2010. Farjam Collection, Dubai Destination X, Toyota Sedan, mixed media installation, ‘Safar’ exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Vancouver, 2013 84

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Said Baalbaki

Born in 1974 in Beirut, Said Baalbaki studied painting at the Institut des Beaux-Arts, Beirut (1998), the Marwan Summer Academy at the Darat al Funun in Amman (2001) and the University of the Arts, Berlin (Universität der Künste Berlin), attending the masterclasses of Burkhard Held (2005). He graduated with a MFA from the Institute for Art in Context, University of the Arts, Berlin in 2008. He lives and works between Beirut and Berlin.

Left Behind, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm, 2006–09. Private collections, London Untitled, oil on canvas, 200 x 160 cm, 2013. KA Modern & Contemporary Art Collection 94

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Said Baalbaki

Born in 1974 in Beirut, Said Baalbaki studied painting at the Institut des Beaux-Arts, Beirut (1998), the Marwan Summer Academy at the Darat al Funun in Amman (2001) and the University of the Arts, Berlin (Universität der Künste Berlin), attending the masterclasses of Burkhard Held (2005). He graduated with a MFA from the Institute for Art in Context, University of the Arts, Berlin in 2008. He lives and works between Beirut and Berlin.

Left Behind, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm, 2006–09. Private collections, London Untitled, oil on canvas, 200 x 160 cm, 2013. KA Modern & Contemporary Art Collection 94

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MA r w a n R e c h m a o u i

Born in 1964 in Beirut, Marwan Rechmaoui studied sculpture and painting at Massachusetts College of Art and Design between 1987 and 1993. Inspired by the geography and the complex multi-cultural history of Beirut, his work often deals with themes of urban development and social history. He lives and works in Lebanon. Cities are my hometown. They accept and provide everything. Inspired by the cites I have lived in, my work questions their urban space. Beirut was waiting to be rebuilt after the effects of civil war. The idea behind Beirut Caoutchuc was to produce a map somewhere between a paper map and a real city. I wanted to create a city that one could see as a whole, and participate in. I wanted Beirut to be on the floor, so that people could learn more about it, understand each neighbourhood and its borders, and make connections.

Beirut Caoutchouc, rubber, 825 x 675 x 3 cm, 2004–08 104

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MA r w a n R e c h m a o u i

Born in 1964 in Beirut, Marwan Rechmaoui studied sculpture and painting at Massachusetts College of Art and Design between 1987 and 1993. Inspired by the geography and the complex multi-cultural history of Beirut, his work often deals with themes of urban development and social history. He lives and works in Lebanon. Cities are my hometown. They accept and provide everything. Inspired by the cites I have lived in, my work questions their urban space. Beirut was waiting to be rebuilt after the effects of civil war. The idea behind Beirut Caoutchuc was to produce a map somewhere between a paper map and a real city. I wanted to create a city that one could see as a whole, and participate in. I wanted Beirut to be on the floor, so that people could learn more about it, understand each neighbourhood and its borders, and make connections.

Beirut Caoutchouc, rubber, 825 x 675 x 3 cm, 2004–08 104

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adel abidin

Consumption of War explores the disastrous environmental effects of a world ruled by corporations. Global corporate entities encourage consumption on a massive scale for maximum profit. This video depicts two men competing in a childish battle using fluorescent sabre lasers, in imitation of Star Wars. Each light is consumed until the darkened room marks the game’s abrupt end. It is a landscape of false promises and man’s power over nature.

Consumption of War, one-channel video installation, 3 min. 20 sec. loop, 2011. Private collection, courtesy of the artist 108

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adel abidin

Consumption of War explores the disastrous environmental effects of a world ruled by corporations. Global corporate entities encourage consumption on a massive scale for maximum profit. This video depicts two men competing in a childish battle using fluorescent sabre lasers, in imitation of Star Wars. Each light is consumed until the darkened room marks the game’s abrupt end. It is a landscape of false promises and man’s power over nature.

Consumption of War, one-channel video installation, 3 min. 20 sec. loop, 2011. Private collection, courtesy of the artist 108

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Mahmoud Obaidi

Born in 1966 in Baghdad, Mahmoud Obaidi is an Iraqi-Canadian artist whose work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. After leaving Iraq in 1991, he obtained his MA in Fine Arts at the University of Guelph in Canada and completed diplomas in new media and film in Toronto and Los Angeles, respectively. Obaidi’s work, in sculpture, installation, film and painting, is marked by transition, conflict, fragmentation and exile. He lives and works between Toronto, Beirut and Doha.

Left: Farewell Kiss, shoes and mixed media on canvas, 113 x 113 x 15 cm, 2012. Ramzi & Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation Collection Peace and Salam, from the Confusionism series, steel and wood, 230 x 73 cm, 2013. Courtesy of the artist 110

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Mahmoud Obaidi

Born in 1966 in Baghdad, Mahmoud Obaidi is an Iraqi-Canadian artist whose work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. After leaving Iraq in 1991, he obtained his MA in Fine Arts at the University of Guelph in Canada and completed diplomas in new media and film in Toronto and Los Angeles, respectively. Obaidi’s work, in sculpture, installation, film and painting, is marked by transition, conflict, fragmentation and exile. He lives and works between Toronto, Beirut and Doha.

Left: Farewell Kiss, shoes and mixed media on canvas, 113 x 113 x 15 cm, 2012. Ramzi & Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation Collection Peace and Salam, from the Confusionism series, steel and wood, 230 x 73 cm, 2013. Courtesy of the artist 110

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Khaled Barakeh

Born in 1976 in a suburb of Damascus, Khaled Barakeh graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus, Syria in 2005, completed his MFA at Funen Art Academy in Odense, Denmark in 2010, and later his Meisterschule at the Städelschule Art Academy in Frankfurt, Germany in 2013. A cultural activist, in 2017, he established Studio Khaled Barakeh, with a team of professionals of diverse backgrounds, focusing on artistic-social projects, such as mass displacement, and providing support to Syrian artists, showcasing their work to wider audience. Please Remain Seated. A life jacket tucked underneath your plane seat serves as a symbol of security more than any real guarantee thereof. The keffiyeh is a traditional scarf which has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance. This object-symbol becomes a document of this struggle, reflecting and magnifying the tenuousness of occupied, marginalised states of existence; underlining the failure of the international system to move beyond lip service in addressing these issues.

Please Remain Seated, life jacket, 70 x 35 cm, 2009. Shamiyana Collection 120

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Khaled Barakeh

Born in 1976 in a suburb of Damascus, Khaled Barakeh graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus, Syria in 2005, completed his MFA at Funen Art Academy in Odense, Denmark in 2010, and later his Meisterschule at the Städelschule Art Academy in Frankfurt, Germany in 2013. A cultural activist, in 2017, he established Studio Khaled Barakeh, with a team of professionals of diverse backgrounds, focusing on artistic-social projects, such as mass displacement, and providing support to Syrian artists, showcasing their work to wider audience. Please Remain Seated. A life jacket tucked underneath your plane seat serves as a symbol of security more than any real guarantee thereof. The keffiyeh is a traditional scarf which has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance. This object-symbol becomes a document of this struggle, reflecting and magnifying the tenuousness of occupied, marginalised states of existence; underlining the failure of the international system to move beyond lip service in addressing these issues.

Please Remain Seated, life jacket, 70 x 35 cm, 2009. Shamiyana Collection 120

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m o u nir fat mi

Born in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1970, Mounir Fatmi spent most of his childhood in Casablanca. He studied at the Academy of Arts in Rome, the Casablanca Art School and finally at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. His work encompasses video, installation, drawing, painting and sculpture, often using materials on the verge of extinction, such as typewriters. He lives and works between Paris and Tangiers. By using defunct materials such as antenna cable, typewriters and VHS tapes, I elaborate an experimental archeology that questions the world and the role of the artist within a society in crisis. I question the limits of memory, language and communication, while reflecting upon these obsolescent materials and their uncertain future. My artistic research consists of a reflection on the history of technology and its influence on popular culture.

The Impossible Union, Arabic calligraphies of steel, Hebrew typewriter, 2011. Exhibition view from ‘The Angel’s Black Leg’, Galerie Conrads, Düsseldorf. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Conrads. Collection Kunst Palast Museum, Düsseldorf The Paradox, machine in steel, Arabic calligraphy, engine, 2013. Exhibition view from ‘Permanent Exiles’, MAMCO, Geneva, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, Cape Town. Photo: Imari Kalkkinen 140

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m o u nir fat mi

Born in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1970, Mounir Fatmi spent most of his childhood in Casablanca. He studied at the Academy of Arts in Rome, the Casablanca Art School and finally at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. His work encompasses video, installation, drawing, painting and sculpture, often using materials on the verge of extinction, such as typewriters. He lives and works between Paris and Tangiers. By using defunct materials such as antenna cable, typewriters and VHS tapes, I elaborate an experimental archeology that questions the world and the role of the artist within a society in crisis. I question the limits of memory, language and communication, while reflecting upon these obsolescent materials and their uncertain future. My artistic research consists of a reflection on the history of technology and its influence on popular culture.

The Impossible Union, Arabic calligraphies of steel, Hebrew typewriter, 2011. Exhibition view from ‘The Angel’s Black Leg’, Galerie Conrads, Düsseldorf. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Conrads. Collection Kunst Palast Museum, Düsseldorf The Paradox, machine in steel, Arabic calligraphy, engine, 2013. Exhibition view from ‘Permanent Exiles’, MAMCO, Geneva, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Goodman Gallery, Cape Town. Photo: Imari Kalkkinen 140

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M a n a l a l D o waya n

Born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1973, Manal Al Dowayan worked in an oil company before studying computer science and becoming a full-time photographer and artist. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art Practice in the Public Sphere from the Royal College of Art. Her artistic practice focuses on themes of collective memory, Saudi women, social restrictions, and local traditions that have become entwined with religion and identity.

The Choice II, from The Choice series, silver gelatin print, 41 x 51 cm, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid 146

The Choice series is influenced by a dialogue that affects Arab women’s lives, and the restrictions placed on women due to local traditions that have become entwined with religion and identity. The juxtaposition of contrasting colours offers simplicity, minimalism, as well as depth and drama. I use black-and-white photography because it is a medium that gives me control over the whole process, producing the right visual effect to convey my ideas clearly and unobstructed.

The Choice III, from The Choice series, silver gelatin print, 41 x 51 cm, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid 147


M a n a l a l D o waya n

Born in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1973, Manal Al Dowayan worked in an oil company before studying computer science and becoming a full-time photographer and artist. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art Practice in the Public Sphere from the Royal College of Art. Her artistic practice focuses on themes of collective memory, Saudi women, social restrictions, and local traditions that have become entwined with religion and identity.

The Choice II, from The Choice series, silver gelatin print, 41 x 51 cm, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid 146

The Choice series is influenced by a dialogue that affects Arab women’s lives, and the restrictions placed on women due to local traditions that have become entwined with religion and identity. The juxtaposition of contrasting colours offers simplicity, minimalism, as well as depth and drama. I use black-and-white photography because it is a medium that gives me control over the whole process, producing the right visual effect to convey my ideas clearly and unobstructed.

The Choice III, from The Choice series, silver gelatin print, 41 x 51 cm, 2005. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani Gallery, Madrid 147


Abdulnasser Gharem

Born 1973 in Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia, Abdulnasser Gharem graduated from the King Abdulaziz Academy in Riyadh in 1992, before attending The Leader Institute in Riyadh and Al-Meftaha Arts Village in Abha (2004). He began his career as a lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian army, where he spent almost ten years. As an artist working mainly with installation, painting, performance and sculpture, he has produced politically charged artworks that have made him one of the most prolific political voices in the Gulf. He is a co-founder of Edge of Arabia and Riyadh-based Gharem Studio.

Concrete Block, rubber stamps and industrial lacquer paint on 9-mm plywood board, 120 x 100 x 54 cm, 2010 150

There have been many wars in the Middle East, and I think being in the army has created a greater awareness of the problems unfolding. I have developed an understanding of the army’s language, what its aims are and what its individual members are thinking.

In Transit, digital print and lacquer paint on rubber stamps on aluminium, 137 x 181.7 cm, 2013 151


Abdulnasser Gharem

Born 1973 in Khamis Mushait, Saudi Arabia, Abdulnasser Gharem graduated from the King Abdulaziz Academy in Riyadh in 1992, before attending The Leader Institute in Riyadh and Al-Meftaha Arts Village in Abha (2004). He began his career as a lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian army, where he spent almost ten years. As an artist working mainly with installation, painting, performance and sculpture, he has produced politically charged artworks that have made him one of the most prolific political voices in the Gulf. He is a co-founder of Edge of Arabia and Riyadh-based Gharem Studio.

Concrete Block, rubber stamps and industrial lacquer paint on 9-mm plywood board, 120 x 100 x 54 cm, 2010 150

There have been many wars in the Middle East, and I think being in the army has created a greater awareness of the problems unfolding. I have developed an understanding of the army’s language, what its aims are and what its individual members are thinking.

In Transit, digital print and lacquer paint on rubber stamps on aluminium, 137 x 181.7 cm, 2013 151


ack now l edg emen t s

We would first like to thank all the artists, the galleries who represent them and the collectors for sharing their wonderful artworks with us. A very special thanks to all the contributors who have defended the art scene for so long: Dr Georges Corm, whose scholarship and many publications have provided illumination, reference and discovery; Michket Krifa, who has fought to bring Arab and African contemporary photographers and artistic stories to the forefront in Paris, Tunis and Bamako; and Etel Adnan, whose poetic life, character and love of the region have been vital to the transmission of her vision, sometimes a dark one, for all to appreciate. In London two people have been quintessential to the realisation and making of this book: my co-editor Juliet Cestar, photographer and art historian, whose collaboration and advice on several projects over a decade, has been invaluable in refining and re-orientating the selection of works; Francesca Ricci, an artist and writer, who from the start of Rose Issa Projects has been behind the production and coordination of all the publications and collaborative books; and equally, in Germany, the designer Petra Kottmair, who has patiently adapted layout changes, eliminations and additions, to see us through to the book’s final appearance. Thank you to Saqi Books, especially Lynn Gaspard for enthusiastically supporting this publication with her wonderful team of editors and marketing managers.

Ziad Abillama, Untitled (Arabes), ‘The Future of a Promise’ exhibition, 54th Venice Biennale, 2011. Painted aluminium, 200 x 105 cm, 2011. MACAM Collection

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ack now l edg emen t s

We would first like to thank all the artists, the galleries who represent them and the collectors for sharing their wonderful artworks with us. A very special thanks to all the contributors who have defended the art scene for so long: Dr Georges Corm, whose scholarship and many publications have provided illumination, reference and discovery; Michket Krifa, who has fought to bring Arab and African contemporary photographers and artistic stories to the forefront in Paris, Tunis and Bamako; and Etel Adnan, whose poetic life, character and love of the region have been vital to the transmission of her vision, sometimes a dark one, for all to appreciate. In London two people have been quintessential to the realisation and making of this book: my co-editor Juliet Cestar, photographer and art historian, whose collaboration and advice on several projects over a decade, has been invaluable in refining and re-orientating the selection of works; Francesca Ricci, an artist and writer, who from the start of Rose Issa Projects has been behind the production and coordination of all the publications and collaborative books; and equally, in Germany, the designer Petra Kottmair, who has patiently adapted layout changes, eliminations and additions, to see us through to the book’s final appearance. Thank you to Saqi Books, especially Lynn Gaspard for enthusiastically supporting this publication with her wonderful team of editors and marketing managers.

Ziad Abillama, Untitled (Arabes), ‘The Future of a Promise’ exhibition, 54th Venice Biennale, 2011. Painted aluminium, 200 x 105 cm, 2011. MACAM Collection

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