ART PRIZE 2017
ABRAAJ GROUP ART PRIZE 2017 Winning Artist Rana Begum Shortlisted Artists Sarah Abu Abdallah Doa Aly Raha Raissnia Guest Curator Omar Berrada Rana Begum's newly-commissioned work is included in a group exhibitionâ€”featuring all the artists, and curated by Omar Berrada Art Dubai March 15-18, 2017 Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai artdubai.ae abraajgroupartprize.com @AbraajArtPrize facebook.com/AbraajArtPrize
CONTEMPORARY: 1x1 Gallery, Dubai · Ab/Anbar, Tehran · Ag Galerie, Tehran · Agial Art Gallery, Beirut · Aicon Gallery, New York · Albareh Art Gallery, Manama · Sabrina Amrani, Madrid · Artside Gallery, Seoul · Artwin Gallery, Moscow / Baku · Piero Atchugarry Gallery, Pueblo Garzón · Athr, Jeddah · Ayyam Gallery, Dubai / Beirut · Bäckerstrasse 4, Vienna · Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York · Galleri Brandstrup, Oslo · Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney · Carbon 12, Dubai · Carlier | Gebauer, Berlin · Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai · Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana · D21 Proyectos de Arte, Santiago · Dastan's Basement, Tehran · East Wing, Dubai · Experimenter, Kolkata · Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai · Galerie Imane Farès, Paris · Selma Feriani Gallery, Tunis / London · MLF | MarieLaure Fleisch, Rome / Brussels · GAGProjects, Adelaide · Galerist, Istanbul · Green Art Gallery, Dubai · Grosvenor Gallery, London · GVCC, Casablanca · Gypsum Gallery, Cairo · Leila Heller Gallery, New York / Dubai · Ikkan Art Gallery, Singapore · Inda Gallery, Budapest · Galerie Iragui, Moscow · Kalfayan Galleries, Athens / Thessaloniki · Khak Gallery, Tehran / Dubai · Galerie Dorothea van der Koelen, Mainz · Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna · Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai · In Situ - Fabienne Leclerc, Paris · Galerie Lelong, Paris / New York · Marlborough Gallery, New York / London / Barcelona / Madrid · Meem Gallery, Dubai · Kasia Michalski Gallery, Warsaw · Mind Set Art Center, Taipei · Victoria Miro, London · Mohsen Gallery, Tehran · NK Gallery, Antwerp · Galleria Franco Noero, Turin · O Gallery, Tehran · Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore · Pace Art + Technology, Menlo Park · Pechersky Gallery, Moscow · Giorgo Persano, Turin · Plutschow Gallery, Zurich · Project ArtBeat, Tbilisi · Revolver Galeria, Lima · The Rooster Gallery, Vilnius · Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Beirut · Sanatorium, Istanbul · Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg / Beirut · Galerie Michael Sturm, Stuttgart · Sundaram Tagore, New York / Singapore / Hong Kong · Galerie Daniel Templon, Paris / Brussels · The Third Line, Dubai · Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam · Vermelho, Sao Paulo · Vigo Gallery, London · Waddington Custot, London · Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah · Zidoun-Bossuyt, Luxembourg · Galeri Zilberman, Istanbul / Berlin MODERN: Agial Art Gallery (Beirut, Mustafa Al Hallaj) · ArtTalks | Egypt (Cairo, Mamdouh Ammar) · DAG Modern (New Delhi / Mumbai / New York, Biren De / GR Santosh) · Elmarsa (Tunis / Dubai, Abdelkader Guermaz / Aly Ben Salem) · Grosvenor Gallery (London, Sayed Haider Raza) · Hafez Gallery (Jeddah, Abdulhadi ElWeshahi / Mohammed Ghaleb Khater) · Jhaveri Contemporary (Mumbai, Zahoor ul Akhlaq / Anwar Jalal Shemza) · Françoise Livinec (Paris, Georges Hanna Sabbagh) · Gallery One (Ramallah, Sliman Mansour) · Perve Galeria (Lisbon, Manuel Figueira / Ernesto Shikhani) · Shahrivar Gallery (Tehran, Masoud Arabshahi / Abolghasem Saidi) · Shirin Gallery (Tehran / New York, Hadi Hazavei / Hooshang Pezeshknia) · Tafeta (London, Ben Osawe / Muraina Oyelami) · Le Violon Bleu (Tunis, Ammar Farhat / Zoubeir Turki) · Wadi Finan Art Gallery (Amman, Ahmad Nawash / Wijdan)
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Benji Boyadgian The Discord
8 March – 28 April 2017 Inspired by eroded ornamental tiles seen in “classical” buildings in Palestine, Benji Boyadgian’s exhibition The Discord dismantles the entangled layers and temporalities encompassing the story of those tiles. Through a painting process of repetition and mutation of the patterns, Boyadgian echoes the footprints that leaves traces on the surface alluding to Palestine as a place at a junction, subject to repeated trespassing throughout history.
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Benji Boyadgian, part of the series The Whin, 2016, water color and pencil on paper, 80cm X 80cm
starts at 7 pm for more information visit www.livedemo.xyz
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Ansam Al Salem
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Issue 04 / 2016
Wafaa Bilal ………....................... 80
The Art of Nature ,IWPA, Safar
By: Ian Alden Russell
Poetics of Absence, Voyage Voyage
Tarek Al-Ghoussein ..................... 88
Unfolding, Once Upon A Time
By: Lila Nazemian
Photomed Liban, Tadafuq/Flow
Hadil Moufti ………..................... 94
Pattern Recognition, The Truth, Sifr
By: Rose Balston Rania Matar ………...................... 102
By: Sandra Williams
Live Demo ................................... 26
Carole Alfarah ….......................... 108
By: Maria Santoyo
Phantom Punch ........................... 28
Haya Alkhalifa .............................. 126
By: Sulaf Derawy Zakharia
Bouchra Khalili ............................ 30
Meriem Bouderbala .................... 132
By: Simon Njami
Moza Almatrooshi ....................... 34
Jaber Al Azmeh ........................... 138
Dr. Alexandra MacGilip
By: Rania Habib
Stillness and Stories ................... 36
Rula Halawani .............................. 144
By: Laura Egerton
Sophia Al Maria ........................... 38
Wafa Hourani ............................... 156
Dr. Omar Kholeif
By: Rula Khoury
Larissa Sansour ………................. 44
Lateefa bint Maktoum ................. 116
By: Soren Lind
By: Janet Bellotto
Editor’s note Photographers are story tellers. In this issue the stories are varied, yet all originate from image based work that raise important cultural and even political issues. In this edition we time travel thru Palestine, revisit the past & experience the present through rebuilds of a landmark cinema & constructs of imagined refugee camps years from now. Larissa Sansour takes us way out there with a scifi tale of the future. It’s great to be back at Art Dubai from Photo LA. Our next stop is The Photography Show, organized by AIPAD in NYC, and we’ve partnered with PhotoBasel to release and exhibit the Talent issue of Tribe in June. This has been an amazing year for us, quickly growing into an established photography magazine. We look forward to all the exciting people and places that Tribe will take us to. Thank you
Alaa Edris ……….......................... 56 By: Dr. Woodman Taylor
Amani Al Shaali ………................. 62
Wael Shawky ................................ 150
By: Rajesh Punj
By: Abdellah Karroum
Amina Benbouchta ………........... 68 By: Dalia Hashim
Bashar Alhroub ………................. 74
Driving the Car ............................ 162
By: Bekriah Mawasi
By: Agial Art Gallery
f tribephotonewmedia d tribephotomag www.tribephotonewmedia.com
Cover by: Larissa Sansour, In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain 2 (Detail) (2016) Archival pigment print 100 x 200 cm
Publisher Mubarik Jafery
Assistant Editor Woodman Taylor
Legal Consultant Fatimah Malik
Photo Editor Sueraya Shaheen
Copy Editor Dalia Hashim
Distribution Matthew Lombard
Associate Editor New Media Janet Bellotto
Business Devlopment Nanda Collins
Design Assistant Zia Paulachak Upendra Kumar Santosh Print Consultant Sivadas Menon Production Gopi Nathan
Pre Press Rana Kumar Print Supervisor Sreejesh Krishnan Printer Vimalan Muhammed Shah
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com + 9714.421.0429 Printed in Dubai Printwell Printing Press (L.L.C.)
This catalog is created as a showcase of creative works within the region. Its aim is to create awareness of the arts. Please note that the information in this magazine, including all articles, and photographs, do not make any claims. Any information offered is expressly the opinion of the creator/author of that material. The content created by the authors, creators and works on these pages are subject to copyright law. The reproduction, editing, distribution and any kind of exploitation outside the limits of copyright require the written consent of the respective author or creator. 7.05.16.9.3.4.5683.968
Writers Abdellah Karroum is the curator of Wael Shawky’s
she translates from/to Arabic, English and Hebrew,
Laura Egerton is a Dubai-based writer and curator.
solo exhibition at Fondazione Merz in Torino in 2016.
writes reviews and is involved in Mudam, a
She was one of the founding team behind Art Dubai
He is been the Founding Editor of Hors’champs
cooperative online project of rethinking translation,
where she ran education programmes, selected
Publishing since 1999 and the Founding Director of
especially of texts that discuss the image and its
art projects and was Curator of the Abraaj Group
L’Appartement 22 in Rabat since 2002. He has been
Art Prize for its first five years. Laura has worked
the Director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha since 2013.
for Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai, the Peggy Guggenheim Dalia Hashim is an independent non-fiction writer,
Collection, Venice and Christies Auction House,
editor and linguist, who is interested in the synergy
London and holds MAs in art history from
Dr. Alexandra MacGilp is a curator, writer and art
between sociocultural narratives, behaviour and
Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute
historian from London. She studied curating at the
visual art. She holds a BA in Modern Languages
of Art. f lauralouiseegerton
Royal College of Art and undertook her Ph.D. at the
from University College London and an MSc in
University of Reading in collaboration with Tate Britain,
Culture and Society from The London School of
Lila Nazemian is US Projects Director at
writing on the development of the Tate’s Collection.
Economics. She currently works between Dubai
CULTURUNNERS. Previously the Curatorial and
She is interested in film, video, performance and
and London. www.daliahashim.com
Special Projects Associate at Leila Heller Gallery
installation practices and archive materials. MacGilp is
in New York, she received a BA in History from
currently Programmes Manager at the Contemporary Art Society, London. f alimacglip
Scripps College in California, and an MA in Near Ian Alden Russell is a contemporary art curator.
Eastern Studies from NYU in New York. She curated
Currently the Curator of Brown University’s David
the first show of contemporary Arab art in Iran at
Alia Al-Senussi is an active member of the
Winton Bell Gallery, he was previously Assistant
Tehran’s Mohsen Gallery in April 2016. f its_lila
contemporary art world, with a special focus on arts
Professor of Contemporary Art and Curatorial
and culture in the Middle East and promoting young
Practice at Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey. He
María Santoyo is a researcher and teacher
patronage of the arts. Alia is Chairman of the Tate
holds a PhD in History and Archaeology from
specialised in the history of photography and image
Young Patrons, founding International Co-Chair of
Trinity College Dublin, and currently lives in
analysis. She has a degree in art history from the
the Chinati Foundation Contemporaries Council
Providence, Rhode Island. d ianaldenrussell
Complutense University of Madrid and has fifteen
as well as a member of the Committee for the
years of experience working in the cultural sector,
Serpentine Gallery Future Contemporaries group.
as well as more then ten dedicated to the direction
Amongst Alia’s professional commitments, she is the
Janet Bellotto is an artist, educator, writer and
and management of Exhibition projects. She has
VIP Representative for the United Kingdom and the
curatorial initiator from Toronto, who splits her
been working independently since 2014. Lately, she
Middle East for Art Basel. Alia is currently studying
time teaching in Dubai as an Associate Professor
has been managing the Ragel Archive, a collection
towards her PhD in Politics at SOAS focusing on
and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and
of about 10,000 negatives from the late 19th and
Creative Enterprises at Zayed University, UAE. She
early 20th centuries.
creates projects that promote cultural exchange Barbara Lounder is a visual artist from Nova Scotia,
through curating and writing, with a current
Dr. Omar Kholeif is a curator, writer, editor, platform
Canada. She has a BFA from Queens University in
focus on photography and new media art in the
initiator/organizer and sometime filmmaker
Kingston, Ontario, and an MFA from the Nova Scotia
MENA region and was Artistic Director for the
based in London and Chicago. A specialist in
College of Art and Design (NSCAD University), where
20th International Symposium on Electronic Art
modern and contemporary art, Kholeif is also a
she now teaches. Lounder’s work has been shown
(ISEA2014) held in Dubai. Sculpture/Installation is
scholar of contemporary artist films, video and
in galleries across Canada and internationally, and
central to her practice that also uses and expands
emerging technology, with a particular focus
she has also published writings on the work of other
with the mediums of photography, video, sound
on politics, narrative and geography in a global
and performance. Her work has been exhibited in
context. Kholeif is Manilow Senior Curator at the
a variety of collective, group and solo exhibitions
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Kholeif
Bekriah Mawasi is a self-taught photographer,
internationally, including Beijing, Istanbul, New
has curated exhibitions, commissions and special
translator, linguist and art enthusiast. She lives in
York, Toronto and Venice. www.janetbellotto.com
projects internationally. www.everythinkok.co.uk
central Palestine. Her interests are multi-disciplinary—
d janetbellotto f janetbellotto
Ossian Ward is Head of Content at Lisson Gallery
March 2017, an eight-part Sky Arts series will be
which has been translated into several languages.
and a writer on contemporary art. Formerly the Visual
released, with Rose co-presenting Fake! The Great
Before turning to fiction, Lind wrote books on
Arts Editor for Time Out London, editor of ArtReview
Masterpiece Challenge alongside Giles Coren.
mind, language and understanding. In addition
and the V&A magazine, his book, titled Ways of
Rose has commentated for BBC Breakfast, Sky
to his literary production, he is also a visual artist,
Looking: How to Experience Contemporary Art, was
News, Al-Jazeera, and is Condé Nast Traveller
director and scriptwriter.
published by Laurence King in 2014. d OssianWard
London Art Expert. She holds an art history MA
Rajesh Punj is a London-based art critic and
from Edinburgh University. www.arthistoryuk.com
Sulaf Derawy Zakharia is a Bahrain-based arts
writer. Her work on contemporary Middle Eastern
correspondent, with an academic background in
art has been published in a number of print and
European and American art history and curating
Rula Khoury was born in Haifa. She is a curator, art
on-line publications including L’Egenda Golfe,
from Warwick University (UK), and Goldsmiths (UK)
historian and art critic. She received a Masters degree
Brownbook, NuktaArt, Universes-in-Universe.com
respectively. With a specialist interest in South Asia
in art history from Haifa University (2011). Khoury was
and the Middle East, he is regularly commissioned
the artistic director of Khalil Sakakini Culture Center
by international publications including Harper’s
(2014). She was the curator of Manam and Mapping
Suzy Sikorski is currently a US Fulbright Student in
Bazaar Art Arabia, and Sculpture (Washington),
Procession at the Qalandiya International Biennale
Dubai, interviewing Emirati artists with a larger focus
and has interviewed Bill Viola and Subodh Gupta,
(2014). Currently Khoury lives New York City where
on 20th century Gulf art histories. She received her
among others. www.rajeshpunj.com
she is pursuing a Masters degree in Writing and Art
undergraduate degree from Fordham University in
Criticism from the School of Visual Arts.
New York, completing her thesis on three generations
Raneen Bukhari grew in a business/art environment,
of Emirati artists. While living in Sharjah, Paris and New
with an artist as a mother and a businessman father.
Sandra Williams is Assistant Curator in the Art of
York she assisted galleries at regional art fairs and was
In 1990, her parents opened Desert Designs, and
the Middle East Department at the Los Angeles
involved in several curated projects. Currently based
today, she is fully engaged with the business. Bukhari
County Museum of Art. She completed her MA
in Dubai, she is a contributor for ArtAsiaPacific and
is the co-creator and curator of LOUDArt, a traveling
in art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York
Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia. www.mideastart.com
exhibition on experimental art, and a co-founder of
University, where she worked on nineteenth-century
HunaArt, a platform for art education. Recently, she
Iranian photography. Dr. Woodman Taylor’s interdisciplinary scholarship
has been freelance curating at different locations.
Simon Njami is an independent lecturer, curator,
explicates performative practices of visual
and art critic, and a visual-arts consultant for
culture. He has published on a wide range of
Beirut-born Rania Habib is the Deputy Editor of
Cultures France, the French Ministry of Foreign
topics, from ritual uses of Buddhist icons to the
Architectural Digest ME, and has written extensively
Affairs’ cultural branch. He was also the Curator
poetics of visuality in Bollywood. Recent research
about the Middle Eastern art and design scene. She
of the 12th Edition of the Dak’Art Biennale (2016).
includes the articulation of conceptual art by both
obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from
He received an MA in art history and philosophy
Emirati and UAE resident artists. His essay and
Montreal’s Concordia University and has written
and a PhD in law and modern literature. Njami
installation Cycling the City was commissioned by
for various publications including Canvas, Harper’s
has curated numerous exhibitions of African art
the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority for the 2014
Bazaar Art Arabia, Brownbook, Selections, Alef, and
and photography, including Die Andere Reise/The
Sikka Art Fair. With a PhD from the University of
Rolling Stone Middle East.
Other Journey: Africa and the Diaspora and As
Chicago, he has taught at the University of Illinois
You Like It, the first African contemporary art fair in
as well as at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
Rose Balston is a freelance lecturer and guide, a TV
Johannesburg (2008). Njami is also co-founder and
After curating numerous exhibitions of South Asian
presenter and Founding Director of Art History UK,
editor-in-chief of the Paris based cultural magazine
and Islamic art at Harvard and Boston’s Museum
a boutique London-based cultural tours company.
of Fine Arts, Woodman now teaches art history
Operating between London and Dubai, Rose offers
and ethnomusicology at the American University
bespoke art history courses, lectures, tours and
Soren Lind (b. 1970) is a Danish author. He writes
in Dubai, where he chairs the Department of Visual
curated art events for corporates, networking
literary fiction and children’s books, most recently an
Communication and is founding convenor of the
groups, private member clubs and families. In
illustrated trilogy of philosophy books for children
AUD Visual Cultures Forum.
The Art of Nature With the support of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Festival 2017 presents a diverse visual arts programme during the months of March and April. The world premiere of The Art of Nature exhibition in partnership with the Environment Agency– Abu Dhabi takes place at Umm Al Emarat Park exhibition hall from 23rd March to 23rd April. The exhibition aims to explore the natural beauty, diversity and rich ecosystems of the Emirates; from the desert, sabkha and mountains to marine and terrestrial species as well as flora and fauna. The Art of Nature brings together the UAE’s leading contemporary practitioners who encounter diverse environments and reflect on the exceptional species and habitats unique to the UAE. Complementing the exhibition is an education programme for all ages under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, which features commissioned artists Hazem Harb (leading a guided tour of the Mangrove National Park), Janet Bellotto, Hendrik Wahl, Michael Rice, Anjali Srinivasan, Roberto Lopardo and Azza Al Qubaisi (in conversation) and leading Emirati photographer Reem Saeed, who is leading a workshop. Younger visitors to the exhibition can also explore the country’s marine, land and plant life in a dedicated activities area featuring fascinating facts about the UAE’s wildlife and environment. www.abudhabifestival.ae
Farah Salem Untitled 10 from the series Cornered (2015-6) Archival pigment print 90 x 60 cm. Courtesy of the artist
International Women Photographers Award, 2017 Edition
all across the world, with a focus on the Middle East. A staggering
The International Women Photographers Award (IWPA) is organised by Antidote Art
of its kind in the region, focusing only on women, both professional and
and Design in collaboration with the International Women Photographers Association
amateur. IWPA’s prize (travelling exhibition) offers these women a platform
and Alliance Française, Dubai.
to exhibit their work to a large audience in various cities around the
number of over 800 submissions from more than 70 countries around the world already marks the success of this Award. It is the first exhibition
world. IWPA has chosen the 8th March, which is International Women’s Brought to the Middle East by Antidote, and taking place for the first time in Dubai,
Day, for its event as it globally celebrates women, their individuality,
this unique exhibition will showcase photographs taken by women from
creativity and talent.
Moath Alofi The Last Tashahhud, Installation view of Safar exhibition, part of 21,39 Jeddah Arts (2017) duratran prints on lightboxes Courtesy of Saudi Art Council. Photo by: Majed Angawi.
launched 21,39 in 2014 to create a platform for local artists and institutions to gain visibility among local audiences, as well as to connect with the global art community. The 4th edition of 21,39 opens the 1st February 2017, with a featured exhibition and education forum curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath. The 2017 edition is conceived as both a public forum for creative experimentation, as well as a visual arts exhibition. Entitled safar, the multifaceted program explores the notion of travel and movement as a vehicle for learning and growth and features artworks, creative projects and new commissions by 17 Saudi artists. The theme takes its inspiration from the Arabic word for travel, safar, which itself is rooted in
Safar: 21,39, Jeddah
the word sāfer—a term that is used to describe things that are revealed, or unveiled. Bardaouil and Fellrath explained, ‘Rather than simply describing
Organised by the Saudi Art Council (chaired by HRH Princess Jawaher bint Majed
movement from one site to another, safar implies a process of discovery
bin Abdulaziz), 21,39 is an annual art initiative in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, whose
and exploration by which things are revealed to the traveler—added
aim is to foster Saudi Arabia’s thriving art community. Named for the geographic
knowledge of self, of others, of the places that were left behind and of
coordinates of the city of Jeddah (21.5433°N, 39.1728°E), the Saudi Art Council
the places that were arrived at.’
Afra Bin Dhaher, Dream Installation from the series Hymns to a Sleeper (2015) Video projection on window frames with soundtrack, 1.25 min looped, courtesy of the artist
Poetics of Absence: 1x1 Gallery, Dubai Poetics of Absence, curated by Cristiana de Marchi, shown at 1x1 Gallery in Alserkal Avenue (15th January-28th February 2017) explores disruption and fragmentation caused by absence and departures. It largely features photography and film installations, such as Nedim Kufi and Youssef Nabil, who individually play with removing figures in nearly identical images side-by-side. Other participants include Afra Bin Dhaher, Alia Lootah, Chittrovanu Mazumdar, John Clang, Lamia Joreige, Mohamad Said Baalbaki, Monika Weiss, Reza Aramesh, Tarek Al Ghoussein, Tomoko Hayashi and Wafaa Bilal. The show’s thoughtful exploration of absence and portrayal of people stranded across and through national borders is particularly apt given contemporary political events.
Ibi Ibrahim, Voyage Voyage 10 50 x 50 cm, Voyage Voyage 01 60 x 40 cm and Voyage Voyage 03 60 x 40 cm from the series Voyage Voyage (2017) Archival pigment prints Images courtesy of the artist
Voyage Voyage: Malja, Bahrain Voyage Voyage, a solo exhibition by Yemeni multimedia artist Ibi Ibrahim, showcases an assemblage of conceptual paintings, video, and photographs at Malja Bahrain. The title of the exhibition is a reference to what the artist calls ‘a journey to explore memory and identity’ through the three countries he visited and explored: Yemen, Lebanon and most Akram Zaataris, Endnote (2014) Video Still. Zaatari sitting side by side with Hashem El Madani at his studio Shehrazade, staring at a computer screen, while a spectacle of loud Lebanese music, colours and lights gradually unfolds behind them
Unfolding: Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Beirut
recently Bahrain. During his one month stay in Bahrain, the artist engaged with locals from various backgrounds, with the aim of exploring the diversity and uniqueness of the island. It wasn’t a surprise that he would make a few stops at the infamous 30+ year-old Bahraini fast-food chain: Jasmi’s.
Unfolding refers to Akram Zaatari’s original intervention in Saida’s old market in 2008,
Through his conversations and engagements, Ibrahim came to realise
when he identified photographs taken by Hashem El Madani, showing shop owners
that Jasmi’s was more than just a 24-hour fast-food destination in the
posing at the doors of their stores, in his hometown Saida. The work presented in
eyes of the residents of the island; it was a destination of memory;
this exhibition includes original prints, identical to those installed in Saida’s market
recalling birthdays, after-school meetups, late night hangouts... etc. The
and another set of the same shops as photographed by Zaatari today. Born in
photo installation displayed is a tribute to the simplicity of the landscape
Saida, Lebanon in 1966, Zaatari belongs to a generation of conceptual artists who
that continues to create memories and can often be a reference to a
grew up during the Lebanese Civil War.
contemporary identity of the islands simplicity and diversity.
Shadi Habib Allah, Video still from the series Daga’a (2015) courtesy the artist and Green Art Gallery, Dubai
Daga’a: Green Art Gallery, Dubai Green Art Gallery hosts the first presentation (15th January-7th Feburuary) in the
Born in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1977, Habib Allah received a BFA from Bezalel
region of Daga’a (18:53 min, 2015), a video work by Palestinian artist Shadi
Academy of Arts and Design in 2003 and an MFA from Columbia University
Habib Allah. Habib Allah embarks on an unlikely journey near gunpoint across
in 2010. His practice ranges from film, sculpture and drawing to installation.
the heavily militarised Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, led by a network of Bedouin
While each project defines its own terms based on research and physical
smugglers who navigate an unmapped terrain. The only signposts are the stories
engagement, a common thread is opening up suggestive modes of navigation
they share about the stakes of living, dying, and moving through this mysterious
across circulating networks of people, technologies, objects, images and
space. Anecdotes transition into directions and allegiances are blurred, as is
economy to examining ideas of use and value and the structures that hold
the state of the Bedouins, who remain unrecognised citizens of this no man’s
them in place. He was twice awarded 2nd Prize for the Young Artist Award
land. Their navigational tactics, a combination of discipline of movement and
from the A.M. Qattan Foundation, and has attended residencies at the Delfina
coordination developed by necessity to evade military patrols, mirrors the
Foundation, Cittadelarte, Fondazione Pistoletto in Biella, Italy and Gasworks in
militarised mentality of the Egyptian army. These desert outliers quietly continue
London, England. He was nominated for the Luma Award 2011 and was the
their lineage with the help of snakes.
2012 recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Award.
Once Upon A Time/ Hadiqat Al Umma: Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah
Sadik Kwaish Alfraji from the series Once Upon A Time At Hadiqat Al Umma (2016) Animation frame drawing, Charcoal on Paper. 27 x 48 cm
shops, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, cafés and popular markets, making it the heart of the community’s social activities. The park was neglected over time and this project pulls
Maraya Art Centre’s upcoming solo exhibition,
from the artist’s vivid recollections of its plants
opening on the 4th March and running until the 6th
and fountains to evoke the nostalgia and
May 2017, features the works of renowned Iraqi
sentimentality of his childhood. This installation
artist Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, entitled Once Upon
will stir memories and emotions, conjuring up
A Time: Hadiqat Al Umma. The exhibition will
the landmark park that lives in the memory of
present a panoramic multimedia video installation
generations of Iraqis, incorporating imagery
and is curated by Laura Metzler and Dr. Alexandra
from the work of national icons Jawad Salim and
Faiq Hassan, which are found within the garden
In this exhibition, Alfraji revives his childhood
itself and are part of the core of Iraqi cultural
experience of Hadiqat Al Umma ‘The Nation’s
identity. The work has been commissioned by
Park,’ in Baghdad. Built in the 1930s, the public
the Barjeel Art Foundation and the exhibition is
space was surrounded by music and photography
also supported by Ayyam Gallery.
Photomed Liban 2017, Beirut
participate in its yearly event. For the past six years, Photomed has been
The Photomed Liban 2017 festival takes place between the 18 January
showcasing and highlighting Mediterranean beauty. From documentary
and the 8th February and is curated by Guillaume de Sardes. It focuses
testimonials to pure artistic expression, photography is a way to register and
on four themes: Cinema (featuring Danielle Arbid, Richard Dumas, Alain
comprehend the world from several points of view. Beyond political, social,
Fleischer, Sergio Strizzi); The Poetry of Ruins (featuring Ferran Freixa,
and religious upheavals, the Mediterranean is, above all, a region full of life
Wassim Ghozlani, Nicole Herzog-Verrey); The City Of Beirut (featuring
and movement. In 2014, a Lebanese edition of Photomed was created by
George Awde, Giulio Rimondi, Lara Tabet, Bilal Tarabey), and The 70S (Marc
Serge Akl, Philippe Heullant, and Tony el Hage. It is similar to Photomed
Riboud, Christine Alaoui).
Festival, which every year brings together young talents and well-known
Founded in Sanary on the Var coast of France, Photomed has endeavored to
artists and photographers. Four years later, Photomed Liban is now a key
embrace its coastal roots by inviting artists from Mediterranean countries to
event for photography in Beirut and the Middle East.
Below: Ali Chaaban This Too Shall Pass from the show Tadafuq (2017) Neon and metal 120 cm
Clockwise: Christine Alaoui from the series Blended. Bilal Tarabey from the series The Return. Wassim Ghozlani from the series Postcards from Tunisia
Tadafuq/Flow: Beydoun Exhibition Space, Jeddah
video, installation, textile art, ceramic, collage
Tadafuq contemporary Saudi art show in
and the experience of memory.
Jeddah is a collaboration between Banafsajeel,
The artists participating in Tadafuq include
Hafez Gallery, and Art Jameel hosted by
Abdulrahman Al Maghraby, Ahaad Al Amoudi,
Beydoun Exhibition Space. The group
Alaa Abdullah, Alaa Tarabzouni, Ali Al Hassan,
exhibition is co-curated by Noor Aldabbagh
Ali Cha’aban, Amro Mohammed, Awatif Al
and Qaswra Hafez and showcases emerging
Safwan, Ayman Yousri Daydban, Ayman Zedani,
and established artists from Saudi Arabia. 37
Donia AlShetairy, Eyad Maghazil, Fahad Al
artists individually interpret the idea of 'flow'
Gethami, Filwa Nazer, Ghada Da, Khalid Zahid,
through painting, sculpture, photography,
and others. Topics include migration, urban sprawl, dissemination of technology, spirituality
Inas Halabi, Video stills from the series Mnemosyne (2016) The title of the work is borrowed from the Titan goddess of memory and the ‘inventress of language and words’.
Pattern Recognition: The Mosaic Rooms, London Showcasing the best of emerging contemporary art from Palestine, The Mosaic Rooms presents new works by selected artists shortlisted for the A.M. Qattan Foundation’s prestigious Young Artist of the Year Award 2016. Five artists are featured in this exhibition: Inas Halabi, Somar Sallam, Majd Masri, Noor Abed and Ruba Salameh. The artists were challenged by curator Nat Muller to break loose from familiar representations of art created in the Palestinian context. They explored the notion of repetition and pattern to develop fresh approaches in their work. This exhibition is rooted in the artists’ individual experiences of Palestine, where geographies, histories and identities are fragmented. However, its themes—displacement, resistance and the blurring of truth—resonate in today’s wider world.
The Truth: Karim Gallery, Amman The selected artworks in the exhibition of the Iraqi artist Nizar Yahya come as the fruit of exhaustive
Nizar Yahya Seat 3 (Ecstasy) (2013) 14.6 x 11.5 cm
Hady Sy, Sifr from the series Sifr (2014) Archival pigment print 75.6 x 180 cm Zero from the series Sifr (2008) Archival pigment print 75.6 x 180 cm
creative efforts exerted throughout
Sifr: Saleh Barakat Gallery, Beirut
a period close to four years. Yahya’s
Sifr is a solo show by the multimedia artist Hady Sy that surveys the role of
works are inspired by a variety of
capital in society and politics. Taking place at Saleh Barakat Gallery, Beirut and
sources that establish the visual
coinciding with the 2017 edition of Photomed Liban, the exhibition covers the
perception this exhibition highlights,
ways in which capital shapes the world at large, and the art world in particular.
as it exposes the audience to
Through wordplay and pastiche, Sifr begins with local manifestations of a
different perspectives in treating
universal condition, and moves into their global reverberations. It traces how
the theme. In the first place, his
capital mediates intimate (often gendered) relationships, and even more
treatment employs photography
assertively, how it structures our very thoughts. His work gestures towards
with models next to it that are
the problem with the value-form itself.
supplemented with the preliminary
Hady Sy was born in Beirut in 1964. He is a multimedia artist, principally
research of the artwork
engaging in photography. He has a Bachelor’s degree from Beirut University
The above is an excerpt from a text
College and a Master’s degree from EFAP and the Sorbonne. He was the
in Arabic by Amar Dawod, an Iraqi
president of the Association of the Promotion of Photography (APP) in Paris
artist living and working in Sweden.
and New York, and is a member of La Maison des Artistes in Paris.
REVIEW Images - Courtesy of Pharan Studio and Arwa Studio. Writer - Raneen Bukhari, curator.
Live Demo: No boundaries no audience No monopoly no circles no cliques, no names no galleries, full freedom Two days before the opening of Jeddah art week
Arif was looking for a gas station but to no avail.
and 21,39, Live Demo, a grassroots and artist-run
Near Mari’b, where oil was first discovered in
art show opened at Pharan Studio, the first public
Yemen, he found explosive pomegranate coloured
event to occur at the studio owned by Ahmed
juice on top of barrels of oil as an alternative to
Mater and Arwa AlNeami. The concept was simple;
petrol stations. The work shows the different ways
first comes fun and second comes discussion.
that society resists the world's conflicts. Here,
The need existed to connect with each other and to create a conversation about the experience and experiments of artists, all the while, avoiding pressure, stress and boundaries. The hope is that this will propagate Mater’s and Alneami’s vision that artists must be the prime and only influence on their art, that the artist is the owner and decision maker. This is about encouraging creative critique and feedback by joining observers and art experimentation in one space, one in which to exercise creative muscles and truly experiment with art. The group show was curated by AlNeami and Raneen Bukhari, and out of 14 artists, two were photographers and one film maker. The first is Arif AlNomay, a Saudi-based Yemeni photographer born in 1970. This is his first experience showcasing his work. He started as a portrait photographer in Abha and has since 2010 been working in Ahmed Mater's studio in Jeddah. In 2016, he immersed himself in documenting Yemen's various lifestyles. The collection, called Pomegranate Colored Containers, was captured during a short trip to Yemen, through Al-Wadiah.
Arif Alnomay, from the series Colored Juice Container (2016) 105 x 75 cm
Ansam Salem, video stills, from the series Our Steps are Counted and Limited (2016) 30 x 40 cm Ansam Salem wants to document her story; a story that is different than what most people think about Jeddah and about Saudi. Hers is a story of escape, exploration and of adventure
Mohammed AlFaraj, video stills, from Glimpses of Now (2017) video 30 mins long Glimpses of now is a work in progress. Ever-changing with every moment he experiences in his daily life
AlNomay explores a mix of socio-political stories of explosive pomegranate juice, which can be found along every street in Yemeni cities. Also exibiting is Ansam Salem, born in 1996. Ansam documents her daily life in Jeddah. Navigating the city through a life that she never lived before. Her series, Our Steps are Counted and Limited, shows a side of Jeddah unseen to most visitors or even citizens. Enjoying adventures with friends that she met through social media, she explores her surroundings with a freedom unfelt in the confines of family tradition. Another artist showing moving images is Mohammed AlFaraj. A film-maker recently back from an inspirational trip to Japan with Crossway Foundation, AlFaraj started filming interesting moments of his movements. Glimpses of Now is a work in constant progress, recording visually interesting scenes. The founder of Live Demo is Arwa AlNeami, and Raneen Bukhari co-curated the first iteration with her. Find them on @arwaastudio or @raneenbukhari and information on the movement on livedemo.xyz and @livedemo.
REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Suzy Sikorski.
Phantom Punch: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia Suzy Sikorski interviews Nouf Alhimiary The Saudi Artists’ US Tour comes to Lewiston,
Suzy Sikorski: Before arriving in Lewiston, what
Maine! Phantom Punch: Contemporary Art from
were your expectations?
Saudi Arabia brought 16 artists and two YouTube
Nouf Alhimiary: I really had no expectations other
collectives to Bates College, introducing them
than it being freezing cold. I looked up Lewiston
through lectures, performances, story-telling and
because I never heard about it before. Stephen
pop-up events. Phantom Punch refers to Muhammed
Stapleton (founder of Culturunners) and Danny
Ali’s 1965 boxing match with Sonny Liston that took
Danforth (curator of the exhibition) took us around
place in Lewiston, shocking the crowds through Ali’s
Lewiston, Auburn, and Portland. We also had the
unexpected lightning-fast knockout. Bringing back
opportunity to speak about our perspective in
this unexpected thrill to the local community, this
Danny’s anthropology class: myth, folklore and
show disbanded stereotypes of the Middle East
popular culture. It felt beautiful to witness the
during one of the most divisive periods in US history.
students’ openness to us, and our stories; as
Alhimiary’s series of photographs, The Desire to
(NA): No, not necessarily. My work deals with
Not Exist (2015) features three photos of a woman
representation, basically reclaiming my narrative
caught underneath the water’s surface, reaching
as a Saudi woman and a millennial, and taking
It felt beautiful to witness the student’s openness to us, and our stories; as well as listening to the questions they had about who we were, where we came from, and what our projects meant.
towards the light but forever caught within this
agency to define my reality as opposed to having
about the garments the girls are wearing—hijab
moment of silence and stillness. Further adding to
it defined for me by others (whether that other is
is a symbol of oppression in the West, the general
the performative role of fixed social narratives, the
the Western media, or men in my society). The
impression from a Western perspective, I found,
woman is not wearing a black abaya, but instead a
hijab is not just a religious symbol, it is also cultural.
was the association of hijab and drowning with
prayer garment. Re-appropriating texts taken from
Because I live in Saudi I have to wear a hijab,
oppression. However, there was the cultural aspect
Egyptian literary figure, Tawfiq Al Hakim cited in an
regardless of my religious beliefs.
of hijab that I found to be absent. In the image, the
well as listening to the questions they had about One of the featured artists is Nouf Alhimiary,
who we were, where we came from and what our
an experimental photographer and visual
communications designer that uses her background in English literature and linguistics to explore identity
(SS): The Desire to Not Exist deals with women
politics and gender issues from a feminist perspective.
drowning. Does this touch upon the stereotype that Saudi woman do not have a voice?
article from an online youth journal, Alhimiary paints
girl is wearing a prayer garment, which signifies
these women’s faces with Arabic words ‘no’ and
The Desire to not exist – Drowning is the most
vulnerability and openness to the divine, being
‘walks on water and does not drown,’ shifting the
perfect form of isolation. In my opinion, as a
able to tell those students about those additional
focus of these signs of refusal to the female context.
motif, drowning captures an integral struggle in
layers of meaning that they were never exposed
I had the chance to interview artist Alhimiary as she
the human condition that is universal to all of us.
to allowed me to represent a part of my herstory
travelled to the US for the first time during the show.
In Danny’s class, I was asked a lot of questions
that told something about who I am.
Untitled (1,2,3) from the series The Desire to Not Exist (2015) Archival pigment print
(SS): So, this is more of a personal battle with yourself—whether you are in Saudi or in the West? (NA): It’s personal and universal at the same time, I suppose. I got asked an interesting question—one of the American students asked me: if I was speaking about universals such as isolation, alienation and vulnerability, then why not use outfits that are easy to relate to? To me, that was really important to address; what is easy to relate to? Does it have to look westernised to be relatable? I think we hold ourselves accountable when we confront these questions, ‘why can’t I relate to people dressed differently to me?’ (SS): What was the best platform for you to exhibit your work? (NA): The internet is my main platform. It allows me to reach audiences that I can never reach through exhibits and within the walls of galleries. However, it is an honor to be able to take your art across borders to a such a liberal, diverse and beautiful campus as Bates College. Spearheaded by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, this multifaceted program of exhibitions and education initiatives was launched in Houston, Texas, in June 2016. To date, the exhibitions have attracted over 15,000 visitors across four cities, offering community focused public programming, including seven artists’ performances, fifteen artists’ talks and lectures, and curator-led tours for over thirty local universities and schools. Confirmed locations in 2017 include Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Washington D.C. and New York City.
REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery . Writer - Ossian Ward.
Bouchra Khalili: Mapping Without Borders Take a journey through oral history and the revolutionary past “We are all Creole,”1 says the artist of Moroccan-
long periods of time. Progressively, they became
political pasts, all being home at one time to
French heritage, who has recently based herself
narrators of their own stories. It was also a process
an international independence or resistance
between Paris, Oslo and Berlin. Bouchra Khaili is a
movement. One hotel hosted a Black Panther
quiet but forcefully spoken artist, whose powerful
Party delegation in 1969—Eldridge Cleaver
messages belie a subtle and complex delivery,
Another film describes the near impossibility of
himself came to Algiers after being exiled from
through film, photography and language. Her
a man in Ramallah travelling to see his lover in
the US. Other shots show the headquarters of
best known piece—dealing, as much of her work
Jerusalem: ‘He is not a refugee,’ says Khalili, ‘but
the Portuguese National Liberation Front or
does, with forced migration and the often unseen
someone who can’t visit his girlfriend 14 kilometres
other emancipatory groups from South Africa,
itineraries of people—is The Mapping Journey
away.’ As he talks off camera, his hand scrawls
Mozambique, Eritrea, Angola, Palestine, and even
Project (2008-11), which has itself been on a world
movements across a map of the West Bank—one
the Canary Islands (each had its own acronym:
tour since it was shown at the 10 Sharjah Biennial
that Khalili could not source from a bookshop like
the ANC, the FLSC, the PAIGC and so on).
in 2011, most recently being seen at MoMA in
the others, but that she finally procured from ‘a
‘Every image is like a pastiche of an architectural
New York in 2016 and at the Lisson Gallery in
group of Palestinian cartographers I got to know,
photographic style: very objective, very distant,
London, in 2017.
who were collaborating with the United Nations
but each is a complete paradox—they are
to update a map of Gaza. This one is from August
colonial buildings built under French occupation
2009 and of course it has changed since then.’
with Orientalist carpets and frescos, as well as
The eight-screen installation deals with eight individual trips that take in diverse locations all
Chinese-inspired furniture. All the photos show
over Europe, the Middle East and North Africa,
As in this episode (Mapping Journey #3), there are
entrances, again to articulate an in-between time
often spanning periods of many years. One man
further layers of romance and human storytelling
and place in history and also a sort of ghost story.’
tells of his torturous and stalled attempts to find
to complicate the seeming insanity of such forced,
work and refuge—in Alicante, Girona, Bologna,
protracted and often illegal journeys, depicted
Khalili’s forthcoming work for Documenta in Athens
Milan, Breda and Utrecht—before returning
in an accompanying suite of prints, entitled The
and Kassel may see her tread a similar path, but
circuitously through many of these places, only
Constellations Series (2011). These deep blue
it is only ever a reflection of the immemorial
to end up back in his hometown of Beni-Mellal
fields transform each Mapping Journey into an
movement of people and ideologies, rather than
in Morocco, where he had begun his journey
abstract night sky with stopping-off points as
a reaction to events in the news. “Many of these
with just 7 euros in his pocket. “The basis of
stars, stripping away geographical borders rather
projects existed before I was an artist and result
our relationship was our conversations. The fact
than reinforcing them. “The work is not about
from my own experience of being a teenager in
that Moroccan Arabic is my mother tongue—
migration, but rather about the consequences
Casablanca. It started very clearly in 1991 with
and that it is quite similar to Tunisian or Algerian
of restrictive conceptions of nation states and
the Shengen Agreement, when Europeans could
or Middle Eastern dialects—made it easier, but
finally travel almost without any document or
it was mostly about patience and listening for 1 All quotes taken from a conversation between Bouchra Khalili and Emma Gifford-Mead at Lisson Gallery, 28th, January, 2017.
passport—it became almost a no-borders area A newer, but no less expansive body of work,
for them—but for us it was the opposite. We knew
Foreign Office (2015) includes photographs of
that people were crossing the Straits of Gibraltar
abandoned Algerian interiors with important
illegally. These are stories I have known forever.”
clockwise: Headquarters of the representa (2015) C-Print 60 x 75 cm, Headquarters of the MPLA deleg (2015) C-Print 75 x 100 cm Headquarters of ANC representa (2015) C-Print 75 x 60 cm, Headquarters of the FPLN representa (2015) C-Print 80 x 100 cm Grand Hotel Victoria, Algiers (2015) C-Print 80 x 60 cm
The way the photographs are laid out relates loosely to the geographical positioning of the locations within the city of Algiers. Some small adjustments have been made for the gallery space, but that is the intention. The work that is hung on its own is the only organisation that is still active in Algiers, and so it is singled out slightly.
clockwise: Cinema El Hillal, Ex-Triomphe (2015) C-Print 80 x 100 cm, Hôtel El Djazair (2015) C-Print 80 x 100 cm Aéro-Habitat, Telemly (2015) C-Print 80 x 100 cm, Cinema El Hillal, Ex-Triomphe (2015) C-Print 60 x 80 cm Hôtel El Safir (2015) C-Print 100 x 125 cm, Hôtel El Safir (2015) C-Print 80 x 100 cm Headquarters of the DFLP deleg (2015) C-Print 80 x 100 cm
REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Dr. Alexandra MacGilp, curator and art historian.
Moza Almatrooshi: Markings II Dr. Alexandra MacGlip interviews Moza Almatrooshi
Alexandra MacGlip (AM): Where were these
printed in a small format (210 x 279 mm) and placed
at eye level in the exhibition.
Moza Almatrooshi (MA): These photographs were taken on my route up Mount Jais, in Ras Al
AM: I like the contrast between the hand-built
Khaimah, UAE, which takes you up towards the
wall that feels like it could have been there for
highest mountain peak in the country.
centuries and the minimalism of the brutalist concrete road block. Both are like screens we can
AM: What exactly are we looking at in these
project onto, or interlocutors in a conversation.
What I have observed so far though, is how
images? There seems to be a dialogue set up
What is the purpose of the hand-built wall? Do you
people in the UAE have become so familiar with
between the found and constructed elements?
know why it was constructed? What conclusions
these marks that are layering the land, they fade
MA: On my way up the mountain range I kept
can you draw about human’s relationship with the
into the background, they’re not seen as alien.
stopping to collect images of marks that have
landscape in the UAE from this project?
That’s concerning to me, because it could be
been placed by humans, and questioning their
MA: The built wall, which in reality is a small room
that we’ve become somewhat desensitised to
functionality and why they’d been made to look
structure, still remains a mystery that I tried to
change and don’t have a clear idea of when to
a certain way: why are the waste bins blue? Why
dissect by having conversations about it with many
slow down or stop.
are some of the road blocks yellow? Why are
people. One of the conversations suggested that
they all placed arbitrarily? These were some of
the wall could be a memorial, and I like the idea
AM: These photographs were made in response
the questions that came up whilst going up the
of that, as it presents an almost opposing point
to an invitation to participate in the Santa Cruz
of view to the image of the road block.
Biennale in Bolivia. Could you tell me about the
Out of around 50 images that were taken on this
The built room has more romantic tones; it
MA: Actually, these photographs were taken as
trip only two were chosen because they present a
suggests time, care, and possibly seclusion in
part of my ongoing research, which is informed by
dialogue between the different ways that humans
nature by entering the room, whilst the road
my practice, as I am constantly driving out towards
stamp their mark in these areas, whilst disregarding
block is an object made to keep you in line and
the desert and mountains to observe changes that
the intense presence of nature. For instance, the
at a distance.
are happening in these areas. Then I would employ
context in which they were made and shown?
road blocks were serving more as guides to which
a medium that responded to certain thoughts or
way is up the mountain, as if the winding paths
I don’t think this trip up Mount Jais has provided
weren’t significant enough.
any conclusions, it actually prompted more
conditions that I would notice.
questions, and that was what the curator Mo
The Blue Hour exhibition in the Santa Cruz Biennale,
The way the images have been composed and
Reda saw in these photographs. They’re more
curated by Mo Reda, was a call for artists from the
centred are similar to how you would face someone
like curious observations, which is a continuous
Middle East to explore concepts of borders. The way
in a conversational stance. That is why they were
habit in my work.
Markings II approached this was by observing how
[Brick Wall] Object 1, from the series Markings II — Facets of Mt. Jais (2016) Archival pigment print, 21 x 29.7 cm [Concrete Wall] Object 2, from the series Markings II — Facets of Mt. Jais (2016) Archival pigment print, 21 x 29.7 cm
we place objects in locations that have been claimed,
further, I became more interested in the behavioural
imperative to my development as an artist as they
and how much liberty is exercised in such interventions.
aspects of why people do such things, and then arrived
have given me the space to seek critique and have
at the notion of irreversibility, which I’m working on
been able to deliver it so generously and relentlessly.
AM: The physical form of the landscape of the UAE
portraying through a series of videos (that don’t involve
often appears in your work. What is your relationship
the flag). I decided to move away from the image of the
AM: You work embraces elements of performance,
with the desert and mountains of the UAE?
flag as it is so symbolic and can be easily misconstrued
sculpture and photography—is the medium you
MA: In my constant trips to the desert and mountains I
and not communicate the right message.
are working in important to you or is it a means to an end?
choose to take the position of a bystander; by observing and reflecting on changes that I spot on each trip. This
AM: Are there any artists who have had an impact on
MA: My choice of medium goes through a process
obsession to document change stems out of a sense of
your work and thinking processes?
of careful selection as to what outcome serves the
personal loss, which sent me on an obsessive journey
MA: Artists who I’ve been exposed to in the UAE have
concept best. I would label the research as the core
to try and figure out ways of entrapping memories.
had the most influence on me and my work. People
foundation of my current practice, and the media serve
In doing so, I worked with sculpture, performance,
like Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Mohammed Kazem,
as chapters in each finding that I stop at.
installation, writing, drawing and photography.
as well as artists from my generation, such as Hadeyeh Badri, Mays Albeik, and Reem Falaknaz.
AM: An Emirati flag appears at the top of one of the
AM: What are you working on at the moment? MA: I am currently working on portraying the notion
images. You are currently working on a new project
AM: You recently participated in the AiR Dubai and
of irreversibility in a video installation. I have been
around the use of the national flag in the landscape,
SEAF programmes. How did you find the experience
given the opportunity to respond to Mohammed
could you talk about this work and what inspired it?
of being part of these close-knit but temporary
Kazem’s practice, for an exhibition called Is Old Gold?
Are you interested in discussing national identity in
communities? Did it alter your working methods?
which will open at DUCTAC, Dubai in February 2017.
MA: I wouldn’t call these communities temporary as
I observed Kazem’s work that has performance in it,
MA: In my latest project, I have been observing the
they yielded such strong bonds with the curators, the
such as Photographs with a Flag (1997) and Scratches
different ways that people have placed the nation’s flag
faculty, and most importantly my peers. We constantly
on Paper (2015). Including gestures of performance
around the mountains, and mainly focused on flags
connect like one does with one’s own family, and discuss
in my work has been a constant aim, and I’m using
painted on mountain surfaces. Upon researching this
our life and work with each other. They have been
his methods as a reference.
REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Barbara Lounder, visual artist.
Stillness and Stories: The films of Raghed Charabaty Melding fiction and sociopolitical history Everyone knows that stories are simplifications. To
details that are the most-loved in any story. As we
tell a story is to select. Only in this way can a story
know too well, those familiar spaces and narratives
be given a form and so be preserved. If you tell a
of daily life can be ruptured in an instant of violence.
story about somebody you love, a curious thing happens. The storyteller is like a dressmaker cutting
For Charabaty, Alia is a reconciliation with the
a pattern out of cloth. You cut from the cloth as fully
memories of his parents’ generation, and with his
and intelligently as possible. Inevitably there are
own identity as an Arab. Alia was narrated by his
narrow strips and awkward triangles which cannot
father, Naji Charabaty, and #Deema features the
be used—which have no place in the form of the
poetry of his mother, Sana Jumayel. In #Deema,
story. Suddenly you realize it is those strips, those
reconciliation weaves two narratives together; the
useless remnants, which you love most. Because the
tragic love story of the characters Deema and Nidal,
heart wants to retain all.
displaced from their homeland, and the unfolding
From John Berger, Go Ask the Time, Granta
of the Arab Spring. #Deema is striking in its use
Magazine, Spring 1985
of saturated colour, often isolated against dark
of still life and portrait traditions in painting and
I shall collect your precious tears inside a perfume
photography; movement is economical, often slow,
using nuances of light and shadow to depict private
And on cold mornings
moments that crescendo into societal calamity. Alia,
Wipe my eyelids with them
It is through the sensitive and intelligent integration of new, and established, modes of visual language that Charabaty brings important stories to life.
a 5-minute film by Charabaty, recounts the April
Hoping that their salt will take me to your beaches
new, and established, modes of visual language that
13, 1975, ‘bus massacre’ in Ain el-Rummaneh (an
Where our dreams, like waves
Charabaty brings important stories to life.
event regarded as the beginning of the civil war
Rock back and forth …
in Lebanon), through the memory of an elderly
Sana Jumayel, from #Deema
backgrounds. The lighting is warm, with details Raghed Charabaty’s award-winning short films have
rendered in amber tones, drawing the viewer in.
an aesthetic sensibility recalling the conventions
man. The eponymous (and fictional) protagonist,
Originally from Dahr El Sawan, Lebanon, Raghed (Ray) Charabaty came to Canada in 2012. He
represented as one of the 27 to die in the attack,
Charabaty’s third film, Yasmine, is in progress at
completed a BFA with a Major in Film at the Nova
is a symbol of pre-war Lebanon, and a memory
the time of writing. It promises to introduce us
Scotia College of Art and Design in 2016, having
of a lost love. Alia’s face is a chiaroscuro portrait,
to new visual and narrative tools in Charabaty’s
produced two highly acclaimed short films about his
silently meeting our gaze. This contrasts with longer
filmmaking toolbox, some borrowed from the
homeland. Alia (2015) and #Deema (2016) soon to
shots of her with companions on the bus. Like a
genres of animation, horror movies and thrillers. It
be accompanied by a third film, Yasmine (2017). See
genre painting, the scene is alive with animated
will also include shots made in ‘cloud tanks’, which
http://raghed.ca and https://vimeo.com/raghed for
conviviality. The attire, belongings and food recall
were used to great effect in Alia and #Deema. It is
more information about the work of this promising
Berger’s reference to ‘useless remnants,’ everyday
through the sensitive and intelligent integration of
04_Alia Still from the film Alia (2015) These stills are from the sequences that Charabaty made in a cloud tank. With this technique, the slowly unfurling plumes of saturated colour create images that are simultaneously beautiful and terrifying, representing the awful moment of explosion
01_Alia Still from the film Alia (2015) In this shot, the fictional character of Alia (played by Armita Kordouni) is on the bus, and in conversation with her friend Rose (played by Mahtab Roohafza). She slowly turns her head to meet the gaze of the viewer. This portrait is lit from the side and above, creating darker tones and dramatic shadows around Aliaâ€™s face. This portrait is held for a moment, imprinting Aliaâ€™s face in our memories. 02_Alia Still from the film Alia (2015) This scene on the bus shows the passengers engaged in everyday activities such as animated conversation, eating, and watching the passing scenery through the windows. As with a genre painting, it celebrates the ordinary details of human interaction, some of them charming and funny. This is sharply contrasted with the explosion that follows.
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line, Dubai. Writer - Dr. Omar Kholeif, curator and editor.
Sophia Al Maria: Everything Must Go An essay by Omar Kholeif The Gruen Transfer is the starting point for much of
day they gonna make a movie about me!’ I would
the work that anchors Sophia Al Maria’s, Everything
dance, as I hustled and hurtled around Heraa Mall
Must Go. Devised by Victor Gruen, the Austrian-
in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with my Sudanese and
born architect, who was also known as America’s
Pakistani friends wearing GAP because we thought
mall-maker, Gruen premised the experience of the
it elevated us to a kind of effendi class of being.
American shopping mall around a simple concept: spatially and temporally dislocate your audience;
Sophia Al Maria’s lifelong work, in turn, has been
suspend them, so that they may only find solace
about creating a vocabulary for my generation, for
in the fruits of capitalism. Buying becomes the
those of us who grew up spread like Philadelphia
new form of activism; window-shopping is not
cheese across two polarised cultures, singing
an option. The food court is there for re-fuelling.
Mariah and Whitney as we wandered the perfumed
MSG-laced delights masquerading as authentic
counters of mega department stores. Al Maria
culinary cuisines from the East are appropriated by
articulated this in her writings on Gulf Futurism
western brand chains and spooned into the mouths
and in her memoir, The Girl Who Fell To Earth
of hyperactive teenagers. At other times, tiny
(2012), but with her latest body of work, anchored
elevator music pervades one’s consciousness—that
by Black Friday and the Litany (2016), Al Maria
saccharine flavour from the American movies such
has done something that is even bolder: she has
as Pretty Woman (1990) or Fast Times at Ridgemont
decided to take on the culture of consumption and
High (1982) or even Dawn of the Dead (1979).
to investigate the act of purchasing as the ultimate 21st century religious rite.
In the Gulf States, architectural modernism
In the main gallery, shopping carts explode with consumables including a new iteration of
emerged in the form of the shopping mall; these
In the main film Black Friday, a large vertical screen
Al Maria’s multichannel video installation The
spaces became a prevailing cultural import that
envelops us with an image of two escalators that
Litany (2016). Nearly a hundred mobile phones
emirates like Dubai would become known for.
echo the Twin Towers. These lead to a windowless
play individual videos that let out high-pitched
The success of the shopping mall was not only
mall lit as if by hellfire: is this a real or digital
squeals as the language of advertising and war
because these were fossil fuel rich countries that
expanse? A mall or a temple? Here, the icons of
patter their screens. The technology used is all
had citizens with disposable incomes, but as in
western shopping malls are fused with Islamic-
recycled. An attempt to reclaim what is so quickly
post-war America—this was a new type of collective
tinged Italianate architectural motifs. A sermon
metabolised and rendered worthless. Indeed,
voiced by actor Sam Neill evokes an Old Testament
the metabolism of technological consumption
prophet of doom. The central marble bay within
can be seen as a euphemism for the accelerated
For those of us growing up in the Gulf, myself
the heart of the mall looks like a mausoleum. A
modernity that has occurred in the Gulf States
included, the Mall became a site of a proposed
menacing soundtrack overtakes us, quaking the
since the 1970s. Lining the walls of the space
utopia: a way to simulate a fantasy of a western
viewer with its apocalyptic bassline. We can no
like a hyper-saturated wainscoting are the prints
lifestyle. Every step taken was Technicolor, ‘one
that make up the series ‘EVERYTHING MUST
Detail of The Litany (2016) Sand, glitter, glass, smartphones, computer screens, tablet computers, USB cables with multichannel looped digital video, colour and Black and white, sound; durations variable
GO’. Here emblazoned on demolished buildings and satellite maps are words and hybrid phrases lifted from political playbooks and cosmetic adjectives. These are the magic words that give the ‘BEAUTY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX’ its power and the viewer is invited to rearrange them into newly poetic phrases such as ‘CASHFLOW EXFOLIANT’, ‘POST-TRUTH PLUMPER’ and ‘DIRTY BALM.’ What does Sophia Al Maria suggest that we do with this juxtaposition? My take-away: Use culture as a weapon, just like it is using you. Al Maria reminds us of our agency; that spaces of art are ones for critical parody. Before long, everything will go, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find
A mall or a temple? Here, the icons of western shopping malls are fused with Islamic-tinged Italianate architectural motifs. A sermon voiced by actor Sam Neill evokes an Old Testament prophet of doom.
ways to map, chart and scream our way along the path we’d like to take. Dr. Omar Kholeif, Everything Must Go, 2017, essay written for the exhibition EVERYTHING MUST GO, 2017 by Sophia Al Maria at The Third Line, Dubai.
Aerosol from the series Everything Must Go (2017) Digital print 24 x 42 cm
Incendiary from the series Everything Must Go (2017) Digital print 24 x 42 cm
Attack from the series Everything Must Go (2017) Digital print 24 x 42 cm Aesthetic Taser from the series Everything Must Go (2017) Digital print 24 x 42 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Soren Lind, author, visual artist and film director.
Larissa Sansour: Archaeology Projects Narrative resistance and a history yet to come In her most recent body of works, Palestinian
tableware will interfere with current versions of
they hold represent the archaeological artefacts
artist Larissa Sansour merges science fiction,
history. By implementing a myth of its own, the
archaeology and Middle Eastern politics to
group’s work becomes a historical intervention—
examine the impact of myth and fiction on fact,
de facto creating a nation.
history and national identity. Spanning across film,
The installation lends a familiar, yet destructive shape to the idea of instrumentalised archaeology
sculpture, performance and installation, these
As the film progresses, the narrative and visuals
as a new form of warfare—while referencing the
works are all inspired by the instrumentalised
alternate between the theoretical and the
form of a Fabergé egg and hence discretely
archaeology taking place in Israel/Palestine. In
personal. The resistance leader’s deceased twin
alluding to the notion of contemporary political
the absence of a real peace process, archaeology
sister makes a crucial appearance as the story
artworks as suspended between the reality they
has become a method for settling land disputes,
takes the viewer deeper and deeper into the
are influenced by and their own status as luxury
and the discipline has lost its innocence as a sub-
resistance leader’s subconscious.
are used in support of nationalist narratives
Archaeology in Absentia
The installation also reverses the natural relation
establishing the idea of historical entitlement.
In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain
between archaeological artefact and museum.
branch of historical studies. Unearthed artefacts
started as an idea for a performance. The intention
Instead of showcasing archaeological artefacts
In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain
was to carry out multiple deposits across Israel/
belonging to the past, the museums will be
The centrepiece is a 29-minute science fiction
Palestine and to facilitate a historical revision at
showing artefacts yet to be unearthed and hence
short entitled In the Future They Ate from the
some point in the future when the artefacts were
display references to a history yet to come.
Finest Porcelain. Combining live motion and CGI,
unearthed. The sculpture and performance piece
the film takes the form of a fictional video essay.
Archaeology in Absentia revisits this original idea,
Revisionist Production Line
A voice-over based on an interview between a
thus turning the fiction of the film into fact.
The final piece in Sansour’s archaeology
psychiatrist and the female leader of a group
series is a large rubber, steel and porcelain
that resists through their narratives reveals her
In a real-life performance, 15 deposits of porcelain
installation entitled Revisionist Production Line.
philosophy. As long as myth is established,
carrying the iconic keffiyeh pattern were buried
The installation takes the idea of a narrative
implemented and widely disseminated, it will
across Israel/Palestine—in places such as
supported by archaeological evidence one step
never be hampered by its truth value. The longer
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Acre, Haifa,
further. Instead of relying on artefacts already in
a myth persists, the more likely it is to assume
Jericho, Jaffa, Nazareth and the Dead Sea. A series
the ground, Sansour suggests that manufacturing
the form of fact and documentary.
of black and white photos document the locations.
and planting archaeological evidence for future
The coordinates of each deposit, longitude and
unearthing might be the most reliable approach
The narrative resistance group makes
latitude, are engraved on 15 discs, each fitted
to establishing a favourable counter-narrative.
underground deposits of porcelain—for future
inside a 20 cm bronze munition replica modelled
Revisionist Production Line embodies this idea by
archaeologists to excavate. Their aim is to
on a Cold War Russian nuclear bomb. With the
portraying a mass-production unit manufacturing
influence history and support future claims to
porcelain itself absent from the installation, the
porcelain for future entombment in the Palestinian
their vanishing lands. Once unearthed, this
Fabergé-like bomb shells and the references
In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain (2016) film still 29â€™
In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain 3 (2016) Archival pigment print 100 x 200 cm
In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain 1 (2016) Archival pigment print 100 x 200 cm
In the Future They Ate from the Finest Porcelain 2 (2016) Archival pigment print 100 x 200 cm
Black and white images: Archaeology in Absentia, performance still, Archival pigment print 30 x 40 cm
Sculptures: Archaeology in Absentia bronze/steel 20 cm Installation: Revisionist Production Line (2016) installation steel/rubber/porcelain 365 x 80 x 40 cm
Larissa Sansour merges science fiction, archaeology and Middle Eastern politics to examine the impact of myth and fiction on fact, history and national identity. Spanning across film, sculpture, performance and installation
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Dr. Woodman Taylor, art historian and ethnomusicologist.
Alaa Edris: Imagining Futures Hybrid photographs envision an alternative future What will the future of the UAE look like? Rather than
differences between them, which we do see when
reproducing slick photographs of the shiny steel and
comparing the current urbanscapes of Sharjah, Dubai
glass skyscrapers that normally broadcast the hyper
and Abu Dhabi. Scrutinising the series, there seem to
dynamic of extreme development in the Emirates,
be some visual cues as to which emirate she envisions
Alaa Edris uses her skills as a multimedia artist to
in specific photographs. Could the curvatious building
create hybrid photographs that insert her vision of
harking back to a 1980s rounded modernism, with a
what an alternative future might look like. Starting
circular helicopter landing pad atop, signal Sharjah,
with a photograph of undeveloped landscape from
where all new buildings require a crowning helicopter
each of the seven emirates, Edris then grafts into the
pad? Metal girdings inserted within a mountain scape
photograph an image of a hypothetical building which
would be her vision of mountainous Fujairah. Can we
she has herself configured by combining architectural
see Dubai in the monumental housing project, which
elements from a number of appropriated sources.
is axially led to by a highway, a prototypical Sheikh
Her architectural insertions are at times sleek modern,
Zayed Road? This search to visually express a sort of
and at others image seemingly constructivist or even
essence for each emirate mirrors Edris’s earlier project
curvatious and colourfully post-modern architecture.
where she created morphed faces of jinns to represent
As an Emirati growing up in an increasingly
In her State series, Edris’s imagined urbanscapes
the different ‘souls’ of each emirate.1
cosmopolitan country, for Alaa Edris negotiating
hover over the original natural landscapes as they
Her architectural insertions are at times sleek modern and others imagine seemingly constructivist or even curvatious and colourfully post-modern.
an identity that combines different aspects of
existed before the momentous itihad, or union, in
Yet there is a playful, even humorous, whimsy to
contemporary culture is a lived reality. Having
1971, setting up an uncomfortable uncanny. These
the way Edris creates her kaleidoscopic imagery.
specialised in electronic media for her Fine Arts
imagined buildings do not combine organically
As theorised by Homi Bhabha, we see her
degree, in addition to photography, Edris’s projects
with the sites they are intended to inhabit. If these
negotiating an identity for each emirate through
have also included work in video and sound. As a
buildings are allowed to take root, or be built, they
the exercise of creating a hybrid out of different,
Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artist Fellow, she
will visually swear with their surroundings.
if not disparate, architectural and landscape
recently had the opportunity to work with mentors
elements. In her photographs, Edris exposes the
from the Rhode Island School of Design, developing
Edris’s State series also visually comment on and
act of hybridisation, which generates new forms
new aspects to her artistic practice.
critique the ways in which the ever-developing
in the globalised post-colonial world.2 Through
cityscapes in the UAE are randomly determined.
her practice, Edris herself becomes the agent
She creatively appropriates the role of a city planner
engineering these inventive re-combinations that
1 - For Alaa Edris’s Seven Jinnat of the Trucial States
as well as the Beaux-Arts schema of symmetrical
cross national boundaries. It is this sort of creative
series see the exhibition catalog The Other & Me:
elevations, divided equally along a prominent axis for
dynamic, combined with an imaging technique
International Photography Exhibition (Sharjah:
her imagined re-visioning. Yet, as any good architect,
that superimposes what is imagined over a
Directorate of Art, 2014), pp. 114-119.
she does generate variations of her hybrid styles for
photograph of a real landscape that keeps viewers
2 - For a discussion of various photopraphers’
each of the seven emirates that constitute the UAE.
of Edris’s photographs continuing to imagine what
work expressing hybridity see W. Taylor, Exposing
In this way, she allows for visual and architectural
the future might look like.
Affectivity in Photography, in Ibid., p. 33.
State 01 from the series States (2016) Archival pigment print 120 x 80 cm
Previous page: State 03 from the series States (2016) Archival pigment print 120 x 80 cm Below: State 04 from the series States (2016) Archival pigment print 120 x 80 cm
State 05 from the series States (2016) Archival pigment print 120 x 80 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Rajesh Punj, art critic.
Amani Al Shaali: Digital Drama Negotiating ruin and reward Born and based in Ajman, Amani Al Shaali came to
and reward of their lives. And instead of seeing
photography at thirteen, when the camera captured
photography as an opportunity to capture reality
her curiosity. Grounded by an absorbing culture and
and to represent it as real, Al Shaali appears to want
brilliant climate, Al Shaali has acquired an eye for
to use the photograph as the basis for a new set
seeing everything anew by creating a fanciful world
of fables, in a county and continent enriched by a
in which the figure appears to have been affected
history of cultural preservation, while allowing the
by a landscape that serves as the image’s aesthetic
image to become a more substantial situation as
skin. Critically, it is rewarding to watch the young
a story. Such bravery sets Al Shaali apart as both
photographer’s works unfold, as though a series
photographer and storyteller.
of animated stills. She creates a narrative for a new kind of photography, in which the individual is as
Examples of heightened drama in her works lie
much antagonised as s/he is animated by natural
in images such as In the Mourning (2016). An
elements. Al Shaali’s playfulness comes from her
incredibly affecting work in which the central figure
imaginative use of digital collage to conjure up
appears to be retreating from the world by resting
scenes of heightened drama.
on a makeshift bed of horizontal tree trunks that
Concentrating on Al Shaali’s series Snuffed Hope;
as an impenetrable wall. In We Waited Too Long
Rekindled and Tribulations of a Depressive, one
(2016), possibly the most striking of all of the works,
comes to understand how she uses imagery to
a figure is bent double on a bench with a slither of
navigate her way through the purpose and process
leaves pressed into her as though a dagger driven
of picture making. She creates a situation that
into her back, whilst her hair becomes entangled
could easily double as the stage set for a piece
into the earth, as though the protracting roots of
of modern theatre or a seminal scene from a film.
a tree, a scene explained by Al Shaali as ‘waiting
One begins to see in Al Shaali’s fanciful images
in the place we desperately wanted to get away
a plot that requires the ability to look outside of
from.’ These are images that highlight the loneliness
Creating a fanciful world in which the figure appears to have been affected by a landscape that serves as the images aesthetic skin.
the frame, beyond the captured moment and into
of the individual, as s/he surrenders and eventually
all fall within the theme of her digital drama. We see
an unfolding fiction of her making. Such qualities
succumbs to the landscape.
more of this in Blue Skies are Calling (2016), where
enhance the dominant background, which rises up
successfully demonstrate the artist’s ability to
a lone figure is thrust back and forth in a contoured
use imagery and digital collage to create visually
By fashioning an image that reads as a melancholic
pose, as though ready to leap into the open skies
impressive chronicles of the lives of her individuals.
song, Al Shaali emphatically creates a scene of
that are just beyond her reach; and Letters to the
figures at their most vulnerable, perhaps a critique
Dead (2016), in which the central character sits at
Al Shaali’s strengths lie in her will to communicate
of a growing emotional condition in our generation.
the edge of the harbour wall facing the open ocean.
a cannon of ideas that deal in the sensibilities
This idea is further enhanced by Al Shaali’s use of
Al Shaali’s photographs read as choreographed
of young women who are negotiating the ruin
turbulent clouds, deserts and open oceans, which
scenes that penetrate us deeply.
Blue Skies Are Calling from the series Snuffed Hope; Rekindled (2015) Photography and digital manipulation 90 x 90 cm Better days and blue skies await her. Sheâ€™s comfortable in her darkness but the sweet whispers of the wind and the chirping of the birds will awaken her curiosity to seek the light.
We Waited Too Long from the series Tribulations of a Depressive (2015) Photography and digital manipulation 90 x 90 cm Patience is a virtue, but also a curse. We wait for that one person to come and rescue us but they never show. We still wait, and grow roots in the place we desperately wanted to get away from.
In The Mourning from the series Tribulations of a Depressive (2015) Photography and digital manipulation 90 x 90 cm Mornings are associated with rebirth and new beginnings, but her mornings are filled with mourning. She grieves alone, in a world she created in her own mind, away from everyone and everything.
Letters To The Dead from the series Snuffed Hope; Rekindled (2015) Photography and Digital Manipulation 90 x 90 cm Maybe I can reach out to you now that youâ€™ve found peace. I talk to you as if youâ€™re still with me. You live in my heart now.
Across The Abyss from the series Snuffed Hope; Rekindled (2014) Photography and Digital Manipulation 90 x 90 cm We carry on, even when the road ahead isnâ€™t clear and even when itâ€™s scary, we persevere.
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist and the Sabrina Amrani Gallery. Writer - Dalia Hashim, editor and linguist.
Amina Benbouchta: Chrysalis An affective understanding of the female voice through silence and empty spaces She is not there, the woman you see in the frame.
The deeply personal Chrysalis—which Benbouchta
The absentee’s existence and identity hinge
Sitting or standing, masked or hidden by a rug
dedicates to her lonely six-year-old self—is a
ironically on the banal objects in her remit—
or her hair, the puppet-person is always isolated,
staged attempt to fill a void; putting one thing in
things that also depend on her for purpose. She
ambiguous and composite, invoking the loneliness
place of another.
can use only what is readily available in a confined
of generations of Middle Eastern women entrenched
space both to act and to act out. Try as she may
in their invisibility in public life and its harsh division
Benbouchta describes the nexus between the
to transgress, her will is limited and relegated to
of space. This is Amina Benbouchta’s deliberate
objects, the environment and the figure in her
the brush, the cushion, the heart and so on. The
way ‘to name and shame the status of women.’ Like
work as a ‘poetry of chance.’ The intentionally
struggle in this ideological field may be that even
many feminists, she believes that the female voice
inoffensive and aesthetically pleasing images
in a realm of possibilities, our heroine remains
truly finds the space to exist in absence, silence
allow even the most cryptic messages to emerge
and obscure empty spaces—hence our imagined
from a steady and subtle reading. To impose
protagonist: the absentee.
a logical and algorithmic—or ‘masculine,’ as
Yet ‘my art aims at giving visibility to what is invisible,’
she puts it—framework is radically to miss the
Benbouchta says. In the presence of duality,
That is why Benbouchta’s series Chrysalis is both
point. To extract meaning, you have to read
seeing the positive possibilities depends on your
whimsical and uncanny. The figure you see is not
the in-between, what is not said. It is affect
perspective. That fiery, almost manic, red hair and the
an individual, but a compendium of ‘characters
rather than logic that will help us to decipher
wild bush may hark back to the hysterical Freudian
that are easily identifiable by their attributes,’ she
Benbouchta’s symbolic language and to bear
woman. But they are also a tribute to women fleeing
explains. Meet her avatars: a set of archetypes of the
witness to the social control and false myths of
a male-oriented psychoanalytical reading of their
female experience ‘that evoke a puppet on a string
beauty that ensnare the woman in her daily life.
lives. We are reminded that ‘the female voice flows
obeying the puppet master.’ This series conjures
in spite of the devices used to contain it. The idea of
up the different stages of a woman’s life, but it is
The awkward crinoline-prison that hems in the
a moving metamorphosis, a fluid change of states,
also meant to work like a game of Tarot. Just like in
figure consumes all her faculties. The viewer is
is a metaphor of hope, of the constant possibilities
the visceral Tarot, we are encouraged to ask, ‘what
denied the intimate engagement with her that
of evolution. Movement is hope.’
does each of them stand for? Why are the characters
we crave. To look into her eyes and to sustain
hidden and faceless?’
dialogue, person-to-person, is impossible.
Chrysalis speaks of the universal condition of women;
Perhaps the choice to hide her in plain sight is
but it also speaks for all individuals suffering under
Certain objects reappear as tropes in Benbouchta’s
Benbouchta’s way of subverting the act of looking
patriarchal control, anywhere and at any time. The
art, becoming familiar like the characters seen on
itself—to drive us to understand the menace of our
gallery of faceless characters presents the viewer
Tarot cards: the Hermit, the Lovers, the Empress and
own gaze on the female body. ‘From your reaction,
with a variety and so the points of identification
so on. A few years ago, she also realised this running
I can tell that I have touched something that I
theme; but recognised, too, that the oversimplified
wanted to touch,’ retorts Benbouchta. Bemused
symbols of domestic life in her work—the corsets,
by the heuristic artistry at work here, I recall the
The hard outer case that encloses the chrysalis
tables, chairs and beds—were continually devoid
black mask and bear trap, and feel the puppet
is only temporary. When the butterfly finally
of a human presence.
master’s tug on my own skin.
emerges, she flies.
Chrysallis VI from the series Chrysallis (2015) Archival pigment print 22.5 x 15.5 cm
Chrysallis I,II,II, IV from the series Chrysallis (2015) Archival pigment print 22.5 x 15.5 cm
Chrysallis V, from the series Chrysallis (2015) Archival pigment print 22.5 x 15.5 cm
Chrysallis VII from the series Chrysallis (2015) Archival pigment print 22.5 x15.5 cm
Chrysallis IX, from the series Chrysallis (2015) Archival pigment print 22.5 x 15.5 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Bekriah Mawasi, photographer, linguist and art enthusiast.
Bashar Alhroub: Here & Now Blending into the surroundings In his photographic series Here & Now (2010),
recognises the Palestinian landscape through the
Bashar Alhroub plays the role of himself as a figure
reflection of the olive trees and the orchard behind
whose head is boxed in a cube made of, seemingly,
the cube; and hereby questions the mythical
five plain mirrors. Although all of them were
representation of this historic tree which is common
photographed at daytime while taking advantage
in the Mediterranean. Survival and a sense of security
of the approximate intensity of light, each one of
are depicted here.
these photographs occurs in a different spot. The title of the series refers to time, the very moment of
A anxiety and distress are expressed bluntly in the
witnessing each position and each reflection while
photographs, showing medium close-up portraits
the camera shutters. At the same time, it refers to
of the figure as if he were covering his face with
place, the actual presence on this spot, this land,
different masks: We see him containing a monument
this city, this continent.
in a public space as a soldier leaning on a rifle; we see him absorbing a red traffic lamp; we see him
The photographs show landscapes interrupted by
‘staring at’ construction metals; and we see him
a character whose head sinks into blackness (the
reflecting mountains. Thus, raising the questions:
unseen side of the mirror) and unheard soliloquies,
Is he trying to embody the visibility granted to the
sometimes on the verge of invisibility as he blends in
monument in an open space? Is he about to make a
with the surroundings: his head suddenly transforms
decision or to give instructions? Is he constructing an
weapon once shattered; and its numerous pieces
into crispy leaves. Using a mirrored cube, the artist
identity and asserting his right for self-determination?
create multiple images.
suggests a variety of possibilities. The viewer is
And where is he headed? Could it be beyond these
rarely exposed to the multi-faced character, who
mountains? What will happen when he reaches the
One can claim the photographs taken in nature
is destined to reflect upon the surroundings.
borders that shaped historical Palestine into its
show harmony although the figure lies down on
Alhroub says that the series ‘deals with personal
current state as an archipelago?
the earth surrounded by ephemeral greenery or
vulnerability and an experience of existential anxiety
Is he trying to embody the visibility granted to the monument in an open space? Is he about to make a decision or to give instructions?
earthy surfaces whose colours change periodically.
strongly associated with issues such as religion,
Unknowingly, Lacan’s Looking-Glass Phase is
The placement of the mirrorhead and the challenge
nationalism, conflict and identity construction. It
presented here as a tool rather than an experience.
it presents to the eye while fragmenting the scene,
looks for meaning not in the individual sign but in
The viewer cannot read any expressions in the
by an incidental rectangle-shaped mirror image,
the context of exile and fragmentation.’
faceless mirrors as they are not available. The
forms a collage. The choice to stretch out the
mirror is usually an encounter with the self where
body on the earth highlights an inevitable sense
As the reflections on the mirror vary, it is simpler for
subjectivity emerges and can easily break. In
of belonging and invites contemplation. We never
the viewer to divide them into two categories: The
Alhroub’s series, the mirror is the encounter with
see the reflection of the endless sky; yet we see
reflections from the homeland, and the reflections
the surroundings that trap him, and which, can easily
limited frames instead. My imagination forces me
of neutral foreign scenery and brick architecture
break. He suggests through the mirror motif the
to think; What if we saw the figure in motion? I
that come into sight elsewhere. One unavoidably
implicit threat on his existence. A mirror is a vicious
imagine it to be chaotic.
2# from the series Here & Now (2010) Archival pigment print 80 x 53 cm
1# from the series Here & Now (2010) Archival pigment print 80 x 53 cm
12,9,11,7# from the series Here & Now (2010) Archival pigment print 80 x 53 cm Next page: 5# from the series Here & Now (2010) Archival pigment print 80 x 53 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist and Driscoll Babcock Galleries. Writer - Ian Alden Russell, contemporary art curator.
Wafaa Bilal: The Ashes Series Provocateur confronts destruction through construction photography Known for provocative, performative and
In 2004, the death of both his father and brother
innovative artwork often using technology and
amidst the mounting civilian casualties of the
new media, Wafaa Bilal has cultivated a reputation
war transformed feelings of displacement into
for interrogating the aesthetics of conflict and
nostalgia not just for a place but also for people.
tension, directly confronting the social, political
Between 2003 and 2013, The Ashes Series became
and ethical dilemmas of the modern world. As
for Bilal more than a conceptual project or an
counterpoint, the photographs in The Ashes Series
artwork. It was a refuge and meditative space for
are still—almost serene. A chair stands persistently
processing his emotions, grounding his thoughts
amidst rubble; a bed remains unmade; a pillow
and supporting his provocative performance and
rests on a blanket of dust and debris: photographs
installation works. He confronted viewers pointedly
of models constructed by the artist based on
in such pieces as Domestic Tension (2007)—a
mass-syndicated images of the destruction of
durational performance in which he lived for 30
Iraq in the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
days in a Chicago gallery with a paintball gun
Removing the human figures from the source
connected to a computer allowing remote viewers
images, Bilal scattered 21 grams of human ashes
to log in and shoot him — to shoot an Iraqi.²
throughout the sets—proverbial dust, suspended mid-air by the camera, that will never settle.
Over time, the repeated use, reuse, appropriation, and eventual decontextualisation of war
The Ashes Series is Bilal’s decade-long effort to counter the desensitisation and the decontextualisation of mass media images of the devastation of the wars in Iraq.
The Ashes Series is Bilal’s decade-long
photography became a central concern in Bilal’s
effort to counter the desensitisation and
The Ashes Series. Photojournalists’ work such
decontextualisation of mass media images of
as al Salaam Palace, April 9, 2003 by Robert
the devastation of the wars in Iraq. In 2003, the
Nickelsberg—the source for Bilal’s Chair, from
US and UK declared war and invaded Iraq only
The Ashes Series—reveal the subjectivity and
months before Bilal received his MFA from the
aesthetic effects of embedded war photography. In
School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As an
Nickelsberg’s image, a single, ornate chair stands,
Iraqi-American artist who had been a refugee
nearly intact, amidst a ruinous room—a tantalising
of the previous war in Iraq (1990-91), he worked
dissonance between the chair’s decorative
sublime. In the artist’s words, ‘the terrain of my
to reconcile his image-making with the ensuing
elements and the harsh texture of the rubble
childhood became a sprawling set for the modern
flood of images of ruins post-invasion. ’In
that surrounds. These images are appropriated
aestheticisation of warfare.’³ While specific to Iraq
studying [these images], I began to rebuild them,
and reused, increasingly removed from the
in terms of source material, The Ashes Series
as an attempt to bridge the emotional distance
pillage—repeated so often that comprehension
addresses a universal and urgent condition: the
and return home when the idea of home and a
of the violence that created them is overtaken
numbing effect of mass media and our increasing
return to it is no longer possible.’¹
by the aesthetic appreciation of ruins and the
apathy and desensitisation to images of war.
Chair from the The Ashes Series (2003-2013) Archival pigment print 101.6 x 127 cm
Dark Palace from the The Ashes Series (2003-2013) Archival pigment print 101.6 x 127 cm
Piano from the The Ashes Series (2003-2013) Archival pigment print 101.6 x 127 cm
Hospital from the The Ashes Series (2003-2013) Archival pigment print 101.6 x 127 cm
Al-Mutanabbi Street from the The Ashes Series (2003-2013) Archival pigment print 101.6 x 127 cm
Pool from the The Ashes Series (2003-2013) Archival pigment print 101.6 x 127 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Lila Nazemian, projects director at Culturunners.
Tarek Al-Ghoussein: Documenting Altered Landscapes Identified within the annals of contemporary photography As photography has become the medium of choice
of a Man-Altered Landscape’ from 1975 at
for many established and up-and-coming artists in
the International Museum of Photography in
the Middle East, it is vital to identify and explore
Rochester. This show, which since has been
the work of the region’s trailblazing photographers.
restaged multiple times throughout institutions
Tarek Al-Ghoussein is a Palestinian-Kuwaiti
in the U.S., reflected a monumental moment
renowned for his performative photography, which
in the development of American landscape
often incorporates self-portraiture and explores
photography (even though the German couple
themes of identity through the landscape. He is no
Bernd and Hilla Becher were also included)
stranger to success; having been part of numerous
that permanently influenced the medium on an
prestigious collections including the Guggenheim,
international scale. Epitomised by artists such as
New York, the Smithsonian, Washington D.C.
Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore and Robert Adams,
and the British Museum, London. He has also
the artists of this movement were not interested
participated in multiple Sharjah Biennials and
in showcasing traditional representations of
represented Kuwait at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
untouched wilderness; but instead, featured a radical new perspective of what landscape could
These accolades are to be expected from an artist
be: deceptively simple industrial scenes or even
with such a reputable pedigree. Al-Ghoussein
ubiquitous suburbia in an effort to reveal the
completed his undergraduate degree at NYU
traces of Man on the natural world.
where he studied fine art photography. He
I attempt to explore the boundaries between self, portraiture, documentary and constructed imagery.
then went on to receive his master’s degree in
Many of the formal tenants of this movement
‘in my work, I attempt to explore the boundaries
photography from the University of New Mexico
can be found throughout Al-Ghoussein’s work,
between self, portraiture, documentary and
where he worked with the likes of Patrick Nagatani,
albeit within a Middle Eastern visual landscape
constructed imagery.’ Even without traditionally
whose creative approach focuses on cinematic
featuring stark deserts, sprawling construction sites
featuring traces of people, the movement is
narratives, and Thomas Barrow, infamous for his
and most recently, buildings both decaying and
ultimately about self-representation and identity
‘Cancellation Series,’ in which he carved Xs on
reconstructed. While Al-Ghoussein is best known
through the vessel of ‘place.’ Al-Ghoussein’s work
black and white negatives of seemingly objective
for interjecting his own figure into photographs,
furthers these explorations, between the ‘place’
and banal landscape images in an era where it was
his work is perhaps too often reduced to self-
of the body (the stereotype of a Palestinian/Arab),
taboo to tamper with negatives. Al-Ghoussein has
portraiture with an ode to the Palestinian cause;
and the ‘place’ of the architecture (the altered
been most influenced by the work of the New
‘people have often been very two-dimensional in
landscape), each of which transform to connote
Topographics from the 1970s.
the reading of the work, simply basing it on if my
a specific identity. Ultimately, Al-Ghoussein’s work
figure was in it or not,’ says Al-Ghoussein. In fact,
is political because of the way he chooses both to
The New Topographics refers to the
the work is more complex and self-portraiture is
represent himself and the locations in which he
groundbreaking exhibition, curated by William
merely a tool he uses in an attempt to expand the
photographs. The work is a historical record, not
Jenkins, ‘New Topographics: Photographs
tropes of the New Topographics’ style. He explains,
of events or permanence, but of context.
K Files_831 from the series K Files (2013-2014) Archival pigment print 90 x 135 cm
In what is the latest testament to his legacy, Al-Ghoussein’s most recent K Files
resides within the greater canon of photography and which will undoubtedly find
and Al Sawaber feature in a solo exhibition at the Nevada Art Museum’s ‘Altered
its place within the annals of art history. As a professor for twelve years at the
Landscapes Gallery’ in Reno. The title of the museum gallery is no coincidence;
American University of Sharjah and now at the New York University Abu Dhabi, his
and in fact the Museum’s largest focus collection pertains to the New Topographics
influence as an educator has shaped a new generation of prominent contemporary
movement and its contemporary manifestations. ‘The Nevada Art Museum has
photographers such as Lamia Gargash, Hala Al Aini and Hadya Bedri. Through
shown many of the photographers from that movement, and the gallery space
both his artistic and educational careers, he continues to pass down his vast
where I am showing has a very rich history as well. I have spent so many years in
knowledge and comprehensive training to his students, heralding a new age for
the U.S. and my photographic education is essentially very US-centric. For all those
photography in the Middle East.
reasons, it means a lot to me to be showing in that space,’ describes Al-Ghoussein. Tarek Al-Ghoussein lives and works in Abu Dhabi. He currently has a solo exhibition He stands out from other artists working in this medium throughout the Middle
at the Nevada Art Musuem in Reno. Al-Ghoussein was recently featured in the
East in part because his practice is grounded in and reveals an awareness of
2016 Qalandiya International Biennial and he will be exhibiting work in the 2017
photographic language from the History of Photography. He makes work that
Fotografica Bogota Biennial in Colombia.
K Files_025 from the series K Files (2013-2014) Archival pigment print 90 x 135 cm
K Files_323 and K Files_934 from the series K Files (2013-2014) Archival pigment print 90 x 135 cm
K Files_117 from the series K Files (2013-2014) Archival pigment print 90 x 135 cm
K Files_403 from the series K Files (2013-2014) Archival pigment print 90 x 135 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Rose Balston, lecturer, TV presenter and art historian.
Hadil Moufti: Photocollage and Fantasy Explore a magical world that underlines core themes of humanity Enter Hadil Moufti’s studio in Bastakiya Dubai, and you
haired boy alone on his own planet, exploring new
are like Alice entering Wonderland. Here, the artist
worlds and searching for friends. As the daughter of
painstakingly cuts out delicate printed photographs
a peripatetic Saudi Arabian diplomat, she clearly can
of cockroaches, children, goldfish, cows and oryxs,
relate to such themes.
human folly this piece is far
Hadil cuts, pondering what these characters will go
Moufti once found her 11-year-old niece Maryam,
on to represent. Fast-forward to the finished piece,
on the brink of puberty, dressing up as a woman
from miserable. Bubbling
and the viewer enters an enchanting, surreal world
with red curlers and lipstick. The subsequent photo
where Hadil’s toil subsides to magic, subtly laced with
of this memorable face, seen thousands of times in
profound human issues.
Hadil’s oeuvre, is blasted across the surface of Maryam
some pieces no bigger than a fingernail. Meditatively,
as though caught in the same twister that Dorothy
humour and ironic absurdity skip happily alongside the Babelian tragedy.
Moufti the miniaturist? Only a few years ago, she
from the Wizard of Oz experienced in Kansas. Like
would fling oil paint around the canvas using her
Dorothy, Maryam undergoes dramatic change; a new
Moufti now works on her mandala series, which
hands, the back of the brush and heavy impasto, her
identity is being formed and childhood fades. Adding
began with the elevation of the cockroach. Close to
energy splattered thrillingly across the work.
her characteristic touch of humour, Moufti echoes
seventy times, she laboriously cut the printed image,
her niece’s pursuit and playfully dresses up the face,
making sure that every hair on every roach-leg was
This radical change from a liberal, virtuosic use of oil
adding a bindi here and extra rollers there, as though
clearly defined (surely the shoe-maker’s elves visit
to contained intense work with photo collage begins
Maryam were the template of a paper doll.
Hadil’s studio at night-time?). On her paper she
with a tree in Regent’s Park London, in the Autumn
Despite undertones of
created a geometric pattern of cockroaches worthy
of 2010. Yet the leaves on this tree were not curling
The archaic stories of The Tower of Babel and Noah’s
of an ancient Persian carpet. Initially paradoxical,
their brown faces to winter—they more reflected the
Ark fascinate the artist. One quirky piece combines
we then remember this seemingly insignificant
blossom of a Kyoto cherry tree during the first April
both. Noah’s Ark is built, yet where are the animals?
creature was once given sacred status by the ancient
flush. The poignant juxtaposition between rebirth
The only creature within is the mundane goldfish. And
Egyptians. Mythology creeps to the surface and
and death captivated Moufti; and the photos she
look: the fish are swimming backwards against the
Hadil reminds us that all things on this precious
took started to appear in collage form within her oil
flow of the Ark! They don’t want this haven of security
planet should be celebrated. For light relief, her vast
paintings. Soon, rich fleshy oils lost their importance,
and prefer—of course—to be back in the flood water.
pink pig mandala makes you laugh in the crazy joy of
and the controlled pencil, paper and photographic
To make the ridiculous situation worse, like Jack’s
it all. Well over 100 pigs—the lucky ones winged—
collages became her protagonists.
catastrophic beanstalk, a fantastical architectural
snuffle ever inwards towards the central core. If ever
hotch-potch grows out of the Ark. Representing one
there was a firework of pigs, this would be it; the
Stories, ancient and modern, are the key cradles
of Moufti’s many Tower of Babels, it totters towards
perfect remedy for a grey day.
within which Moufti’s imagery take form. Le Petite
collapse and destruction. Despite its undertones of
Prince and its themes of migration, separation and
human folly, this piece is far from miserable. Bubbling
Like Alice waking from Wonderland, you leave
loneliness is hugely important to her. The triptych
humour and ironic absurdity skip happily alongside
Moufti’s studio feeling enriched, humbled, amused.
Oryxes on Asteroids remind us of that little blond-
the Babelian tragedy.
In short, a great adventure.
Mandala with Pigs from the series Mandalas (2016) Mixed media on paper 121.5 x 121.5 cm
Babel (Before & After) (2016) Mixed media on paper diptych each panel 60 x 90 cm
Babel (Before & After) (2016) Mixed media on paper diptych each panel 60 x 90 cm
Previous Page: Swine Diaspora from the series Tales from Other Lands (2015) Mixed media on canvas, diptych each panel 122 x 152 cm Animal Mandalas from the series Mandalas (2016) Mixed media on paper each 30 x 30 cm, 2 of 5 panels
Animal Mandalas from the series Mandalas (2016) Mixed media on paper, each 30 x 30 cm 2 of 5 panels
PROFILE Images - Images courtesy of the artist and Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Beirut and EastWing Gallery, Dubai. Writer - Sandra Williams, assistant curator, LACMA.
Rania Matar: A Girl and Her Room On growing up and growing old Sandra Williams (SW): How did the series A Girl
anything she wishes to. Even a girl growing up
and Her Room develop?
in a refugee camp, who doesn’t have her own
Rania Matar (RM): My daughter was fifteen and
bedroom, is going through the same transitions.
I found it fascinating how she was transforming
It was touching for me that she would find small
right before my eyes. I started photographing
areas of her space to personalise and make hers,
her with her friends and realised they seemed
even if it is a closet. It makes you human, in a way,
to be performing for each other, so I decided to
to want to create your own habitat, especially when
photograph each girl by herself. Coincidentally,
the outside world can be a scary place.
the first two were in their bedrooms and I thought, ‘This is my project!’ I started photographing young
SW: How did the sessions unfold?
women in the Boston area where I live and I realised
RM: I knew that I wouldn’t use the first images. They
that twenty-five years earlier, I was exactly one of
were like a warm-up for breaking the ice. I’d put the
those girls, living in a different country, a different
camera down, they’d slouch or start playing with
culture and a different time, but that I was just the
their hair, and all of a sudden I’m seeing a different
same, trying to navigate those complicated years
person from what they were consciously giving
and finding my identity, so I decided to include
me. It was like pressing the ‘reset’ button. I would
young women from the Middle East as well in this
then say, ‘Can you hold that?’ and I would start
project. The work became more personal to me but
photographing again. Slowly, the session became
also more interesting because it was about teenage
more collaborative and more intimate. I wanted
girls in both cultures, and about the universality of
the girls to feel well-represented. In one of them—
growing up, despite individual experiences. Being
Shannon—I thought I was done photographing
from both cultures myself, it was important for me
her and she asked ‘Do you mind if we do some
RM: Yes, and I think I didn’t realise that until after
to focus on our common humanity, especially in the
with clothes that I made myself?’ It was like a gift
the fact. When I’m photographing people I’m out
current political climate that seems to emphasise
she gave me because the picture happened after
of the way and it’s one hundred percent about
I thought we were done. I love when they feel like
them. However, at some point, I owned up to the
they are truly part of the process.
fact that my work is on many levels personal and
SW: What do the bedrooms reveal about
It makes you human, in a way, to want to create your own habitat, especially when the outside world can be a scary place.
autobiographical, and that it is following my life
this moment of transition from girlhood to
SW: Several of your other series focus on young
and my own identity as a woman, a mother but also
women and there seems to be a dialogue between
my identity as a Lebanese/Palestinian/American. It
RM: The project is about space and the girl, and the
all of them: in one series you see a girl alone; then
became important for me to include women and
organic relationship between them. At that age, the
in another you see her with her mother; and in
girls in both cultures and focus on our universality
bedroom is the cocoon, the one space the young
another one you realise she is a refugee. It gives
and our common humanity. But maybe it’s just
woman can control, and where she can explore
a fuller narrative to the portraits. And the work
natural and art has to be personal and reflect one’s
her developing identity and surround herself with
also seems to be about your identity.
Reem, Doha Lebanon from the series A Girl and Her Room (2010) Archival pigment print 86.5 x 122 cm
Amal Shatila, Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut, Lebanon from the series A Girl and Her Room (2010) Archival pigment print 86.5 x 122 cm
Christilla, Rabieh Lebanon from the series A Girl and Her Room (2010) Archival pigment print 86.5 x 122 cm
Siena, Brookline Massachusetts from the series A Girl and Her Room (2009) Archival pigment print 86.5 x 122 cm
Bisan, Bethlehem from the series A Girl and Her Room (2009) Archival pigment print 86.5 x 122 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - María Santoyo, photography curator.
Carole Alfarah: Fringing States of War Printing lost memories and projecting silent deaths The exhibition Wa Habibi by Syrian artist Carole
However, they do not show the usual archetypes
Alfarah presents a selection of images she took from
found in war reporting. Confrontation, causes,
2012 to 2015 on multiple trips to the country which
factions, weapons, violence and exile have been left
she was forced to leave behind. None of them show
the different factions, weapons, violence or exile.
From the beginning, she focused her interests on
behind by battles, the voiceless survivors, the silent
the fringes of society in order to raise awareness
death, the places: our homes, streets and cities…
about silenced topics and give a voice to the most
Our present has been injured and our past destroyed.
disadvantaged people. The war forced Alfarah
Because of the huge loss caused by the conflict in
This is why I have been documenting daily life throughout the war, including the marks left behind by battles, the voiceless survivors, the silent death, the places: our homes, streets and cities…
and her family to leave Syria in 2012. They took up
Syria, I decided to preserve and protect what I have
happen to us. It could be here. The images emerge
residence in Barcelona, although Alfarah is currently
witnessed, to store it safely within a project in the form
out of confusion, from the buzz in the victims’ ears.
based in Madrid. She received a grant from EFTI
of a printed memory, the memory of a historically
They dig into the rubble and reach up in search of
(International center of Photography and Cinema),
shameful event that must stay alive in our minds
another person’s face. Others are the only lifesaver to
where she obtained a Master’s in Contemporary
forever. This exhibition invites the public to identify
reach for, bonds with them the only option for survival.
Photography. Alfarah is now working on an ongoing
with the experiences of the men and women who
The artist turns her eyes away from the war and looks
multimedia project titled Starting Anew, which tells
were forced to survive and lose a war they never
exclusively at the human condition upset in times of
individual stories of Syrian refugees’ new lives in
chose to fight.’
conflict, withstanding silently and tenaciously. Her
Nor do they attempt to explain the conflict’s causes
In the exhibition, Alfarah provided her own testimony:
or take any political position. With an extraordinary
‘Since I left my homeland, I have returned several times
sensitivity and deep respect towards those around
because I had been hired to do so by printed media
her, she simply shows to what degree the human
and international non-governmental organisations,
condition is upset by war.
until my last trip in October 2015. On each visit to Syria, I saw how my country’s face gradually changed
Alfarah was born in Damascus in 1981, and in 2008
until I wasn’t even able to recognise it anymore. That
she began her career as a documentary photographer
was the most difficult feeling for me to accept. I am a
and visual storyteller, not a common profession
photographer, though; and my camera is my only tool.
among women in Syrian society.
It is my voice. This is why I have been documenting daily life throughout the war, including the marks left
photographs speak to us about everyday subsistence Ultimately, Alfarah has become a witness to the
in a stunted urban landscape, about holding onto
The photographs were brought together in an
breakdown of a land that she loves, one which she
privacy and dignity in homes whose walls have
exhibition Wa Habibi, and exhibited at Casa Árabe
can hardly recognise anymore. Her photographs
crumbled. They also display hope and the potential
in Madrid. They were taken during the conflict that
convey a reality at once familiar and impossible to
for beauty, as when nature opens up new paths in
has besieged Alfarah’s homeland since March 2011.
come to terms with: We could be them. This could
seemingly annihilated landscapes.
Carole.Alfarah003 from the series Wa Habibi 120 x 180 cm
My Beloved Broken Home, Syria 2012 to 2015 The book: is cometic, and can be opened from right to left if reading Arabic or from left to right when reading the English text. The images: represent a collective and personal memory of Syria during wartime, a printed memory that shows the traces left by war in people´s lives in their urban places, homes, city and land. The cover: is chosen to be similar to the Damascene brocade textile, as a metaphor for Syria before the war, with its beauty, glory, rich history and heritage. The paper: chosen is recycled, to fit in with the destruction and death caused by the war.
Previous Page: 002 from the series Wa Habibi 120 x 180 cm 001, 006 and 007 were published in a photo book titled My Beloved Broken Home that was part of the exhibition as well Next page: 005 was seen as an installation in cloth: 3 units of transparent cloth, printing on fabric 320 x 214 cm
IN CONVERSATION Images - Courtesy of the artist and Tashkeel. Writer - Janet Bellotto, artist, educator and curator.
Lateefa bint Maktoum: Chapters Patience and growth into motherhood in a changing environment Lateefa bint Maktoum has been developing
pace—especially as I have been so independent all
photographic montages of unreal, almost seamless,
of my life. Motherhood slows you down, but in the
fantastical landscapes over the last 10 years. Her
best way possible. It makes you pay attention to
artistic pursuits have made a reverberating impact
every detail; your senses are heightened because
within the community just when the cultural and
they need to be as you become the nurturer and
creative boom in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
the protector of this tiny human.
was beginning. Founding Tashkeel in 2008, she continued her own practice while exhibiting
Developing the pieces started with drawing and
internationally, including the 54th International
writing down the key words of each important
Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennal. In her work
milestone and transition, from marriage to pregnancy,
she expresses a deep interest in reflecting women
birth and the start of the journey of raising a child.
and examining the transformations occurring in
There were struggles that I was trying to describe
contemporary. Through the digital darkroom she
as well as peaceful moments of growth and maturity
orchestrates narratives with painterly effects—
of the spirit.
flowers, trees, birds, water, desert—using composite images to tell a story that captures the present yet
JB: In developing your work, how do you see the
includes a concern for the fragile environment or
relationship with other artists or photographers?
potential of losing cultural traditions. New Chapter
LbM: A relationship with artists, designers and
is Lateefa bint Maktoum’s first solo exhibition in
writers is very important. It is critical to have
Dubai. Janet Bellotto interviews Maktoum about
discussions that advance and challenge you as an
her process and current body of work.
artist. This is why Tashkeel is so important to me;
LbM: I needed to change my process as Photoshop
everyday I can learn something from the members,
was starting to get too easy for me. Also, having a
Janet Bellotto (JB): New Chapter is your first solo
whether it is a new technique or learning from
baby meant that I could not afford to spend eight
exhibition in Dubai. Can you describe your artistic
how others view your work. A fleeting comment
hours a day in front of a computer. The challenge was
process when developing this new work?
to some can be the match that lights the flame
in asking myself ‘how do I keep the same dream-like
Lateefa bint Maktoum (LbM): This body of work
of inspiration, or that can dim it. This is why it is
quality of work but make it faster so I can spend time
was extremely challenging to put together, as the
important to choose whom we share our work with
with my son?’ I wanted to challenge myself to see
subject matter is so close to me. There is a strong
and whether the work is ready to be seen in order
what would happen if I constructed everything in
personal story, yet when an artist is honest with their
to be understood.
front of the camera rather than on a laptop. It was
story, other people can relate to it. I felt the need to
I wanted to challenge myself to see what would happen if I constructed everything in front of the camera rather than from a laptop.
extremely freeing to be able to physically move
make these pieces to make sense of my own story
JB: In previous work you used digital manipulation/
every single piece that was in front of the lens. It
and my own transition into motherhood. It’s a difficult
photo montage, here, there is a further element of
was exactly like staging in the theatre. There is one
process to have another person relying on me is a
staging the frame, a theatricality about the image.
chance to show the audience what’s there. In this
big responsibility and a big shift in my day-to-day
How do you see this shift in your process?
case, it is one click of the camera.
Clarity (2017) Archival pigment print 92 x 122.6 cm
Sustaining Identity (2015) Archival pigment print 26.75 x 37.5 cm
JB: Your work has been described as ‘otherworldly.’
identity at the time, the struggle of being a mother
LbM: There are a few key things in the image
There is a dream-like quality in your photographs.
and the simultaneous struggle of balancing life and
Patience. The floral wallpaper which is mimicked
How do you see this idea in your work?
having my own business and hobbies. It took time
in the fabric I am wearing, is a symbol that the
LbM: One of the pieces that could be described as
to find my role in each and to identify with it again
woman is the one who makes a house a home. It
‘otherworldly’ is Clarity, which is a photograph of me
because motherhood—especially in the beginning—
is her identity that intertwines with the space and
walking across the water in a green area that seems
is a shock and is all consuming. It is like having a
makes it warm and ‘her own’. The hanging clocks
to be a forest. When viewers first see this piece, they
constant mirror facing your soul, which makes you
in the photograph and the installation mark the
think it has been taken in Europe, but when looked
question everything. Having a child is sustaining our
present time, which symbolises how we experience
at a little closer, it is clear that I am facing palm trees
own identity; our DNA is in other human being. S/
patience—it is something to be lived in the now, it is
and that the location is actually an oasis in the middle
he exists and has her/his own character; yet s/he is
not something you experience in the past or in the
of the desert. I try and bring an element of the unreal
also a part of you. This journey is about growth and
future. The clock that I am holding covers the area
within the real; in this way viewers second-guess what
change, which I am sure will influence my artistic
from my chin down to my hips—I cling to it while
they are actually witnessing and ask: ‘Is it real or not?’
journey in the coming years.
listening to its sounds; I am protecting it as it gives
JB: New Chapter resonates about change and time.
JB: Time is also more prevalent in some of the
born, there is a thought of his/her existence; then
In this body of work, you focus on personal change
works. In Patience we see you standing in the centre
s/he is born in your heart; and finally s/he physically
in relation to motherhood. Can you expand on
of a room clutching a square clock, surrounded by
grows inside of you.
this? At the same time ‘identity’ is another line
a plethora of hanging alarm clocks. An installation
that can be drawn throughout your work—such as
mimicking the space in this photograph becomes
In the installation, the viewer is allowed to be playful
in Sustaining Identity. Is there a relationship here
almost the pinnacle of the exhibition. As you walk
with the piece; it is their stage, however they see fit
also with growth and change?
through the space, the sound of the ticking clocks
to interact with it. It was interesting to me to observe
LbM: When becoming a mother, it is common for
further emphasises the recurrent theme of the
people’s interactions. Some were scared to enter it
others to identify you as a mother before identifying
preciousness of time in the work. Can you tell
and others were not.
you by your profession or hobbies. When I had my
us more about the symbols in this self-portrait,
son, I had no help at first. It was just me taking care
Patience? And how does the interaction with the
JB: Transition is another element in your work, such
of him most of the time; and his father would help
viewer differ in the case of the installation; are you
as in the earlier pieces Everchanging Landscape and
me out when I needed it. I questioned my own
interested in some exchange of experience?
Observers of Change 3. In exploring the transition
me stress. It describes pregnancy. Before a child is
Family (2016) Digital collage on archival paper 92 x 145 cm Abu Dhabi Festival 2016 Commission. The commissioned artwork is part of the ADMAF Art Collection. Courtesy of the artist © ADMAF
into motherhood that occurs throughout the
JB: We further see transition as the changing
LbM: Flowers in this body of work are a symbol of
exhibition, can you tell us about the photograph
landscape in your works. Family seems to bring
life and how it is all a cycle. Flowers have seasons;
Transition-the location, the strands of flowers,
back some icons found in earlier photographed
they bloom, they fall off their trees and they die.
etc.? A connection can be seen here, as in the
landscapes. What do you aim to reveal or discuss
The tree then grows more flowers and the cycle
clock, whose hands move with the progression
with this focus on the changing environment?
continues. This is how life is; we all have our cycle
LbM: The piece Family shows me, my husband
and our time on earth before being buried under it.
LbM: Transition is a piece that describes the first
and my son standing by the window looking out
The cycle of life to me is an important reminder to
few months of motherhood. Most mothers—
at the horizon, which shows my great-grandfather’s
observe, to address, to make an impact while living
especially if they are breastfeeding their children—
house on the right, new Dubai on the left and
and to leave positive traces behind. Perhaps it is
will understand and relate to this. A mother at that
construction cranes in the middle, which when seen
because I have experienced so many family deaths
time is the only source of nourishment that a child
on the horizon are almost above us. The cranes
that I understand how precious the time of bloom is.
has; it does not eat or drink anything other than
are a symbol of constructing a new city and a new
its mother’s milk. It needs constant attention and,
family. Elements from the past intertwine within
JB: Are you interested in further exploring this
most importantly, a timely routine to get it into
elements of the present, which symbolise that we
theme? Or is it potentially also a point of transition
good eating and sleeping habits. The circular area
do not leave our history behind. No matter how
in your work?
is like a dugout hole under construction; you see
much our country develops, we are still connected
LbM: Motherhood will have a lifelong impact. I
me holding my baby—who is quite content resting
to our history and tribal roots.
am not yet sure if I will explore it further in the near
on my shoulder, fast asleep—with one hand, while
JB:Flowers, although not in all the photographs
future or if it will become another subject matter that
I struggle to be able to pull myself out of that hole
of New Chapter, reappear in your work. In some
haunts me long enough for me to follow those trails
without disturbing him, using only a delicate rope
cases, they are also exaggerated, again being
of thought. When I make art I make work based on
made from jasmine flowers, which can easily break
more ‘dream-like.’ Are the flowers specific to the
what most consumes my mind at the time. I will let
if I’m not careful. This piece describes the constant
location, or an important reoccurring element
my thoughts direct me to what comes next.
struggle of finding balance and trying to pull myself
that you use? Perhaps you can also describe their
JB: As your practice has developed both as an
out of stressful situations without disrupting my son.
presence in your photograph Growth.
artist and professional—with the establishment of
Elements from the past intertwine within elements of the present, which symbolise that we do not leave our history behind. No matter how much our country develops, we are still connected to our history and tribal roots. Tashkeel—how have you experienced or seen
whether it is through graffiti murals or sculpture
so huge that when I was done with those pieces,
the impact of photography in art practice in
or painting. What is beautiful is that now, there
I had to stop and question what I was making
are more opportunities outside of university to
and why and how I could improve. Even though
LbM: Photography is what really pushed the
explore one’s artistic voice, from programmes at
I stopped creating for some time after the 2011
creative movement in the UAE, especially with
Tashkeel, like the Critical Practice Programme,
Venice Biennale, it helped me re-address my own
social networking websites like Flickr (at the
or the Tanween Design Programme, which gives
work and after a while, I found the courage to
time it was launched), which made everyone
artists and designers the opportunity to work
create again… and here we are today discussing
want to have a camera, take pictures and
without the pressures of academia and to listen
the new shift in my work!
experience life more deeply and vividly because
to their own voice and instincts when making art.
of their photography. Suddenly, everyone
At the same time, they are challenged by their
JB: Is there one image in the exhibition that
wanted to experiment, which allowed young
peers to make cohesive and thought-out work.
resonates with you the most and what you are aiming to explore.
photographers to open doors to photography
prizes and exhibitions. But with the change and
JB: Your work has been exhibited internationally,
LbM: If I had to choose one image, it would be
shift in technology and social networking being
in such places as the Institut du Monde Arabe and
Patience. It is the one most people will relate
more on apps, people shifted to taking more
also at the UAE’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale
to whether male or female. Having patience is
photographs using their phone cameras, which
in 2011, as a UAE representative. Did these
difficult; yet we all have to experience it in some
changed the amount of people constantly taking
opportunities impact your process and practice?
form. It is what makes you develop and grow as
pictures with their camera. Phones were faster
LbM: The opportunity that I think affected me the
a human being, what makes you rush or feel okay
and gave people fair quality to play with. Looking
most was exhibiting at the Venice Biennale, which
about waiting. It sums up the whole exhibition. To
back, I always say flickr was the catalyst that got
is where the art world literally meets. It was difficult
have patience we need time, and time is what we
people to love photography, but now many are
to think ‘what next.’ I stopped creating after that,
all transition through while we are on this earth. It
exploring different ways to speak in artistic forms,
because that opportunity for me at the time was
is what we do with it that makes all the difference.
Growth (2017) Archival pigment print 92 x 122.6 cm
Patience (2017) Archival pigment print 92 x 122.6 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Sulaf Derawy Zakharia.
Haya AlKhalifa: Disappearing Transforming the documentary photograph into art The photo is sparse. A single Arabic word is graffitied
equipment, distant skylines silhouetted in a dust haze
in blue and white on an unpainted cinderblock wall.
are made all the more alienating by the conspicuous
)شموخdenotes a grace or grandeur
absence of people or any other sign of life. AlKhalifa
inherent in being tall. Over the top of the wall, the fronds of younger date palms struggle to be seen. Towering over them is the dead trunk of the tallest palm, its greenery long fallen. The message is acutely poignant, the irony inescapable. Another photo captures the remnants of a decrepit gate that once opened into private farmland. Today, the gate would stand almost impotent were it not for the weeds and dry shrubbery supporting its feeble presence and blocking access to the dying land beyond it. An ongoing project, now in its third year, Disappearing is comprised of two separate yet interrelated threads. The first is photographer Haya AlKhalifa’s effort to document the slow and painful loss of her country’s lavish palm groves from which Bahrain once derived its reputation as the ‘land of a million date palms.’ A palpable sadness permeates this veritable memento mori of palm trees and a sense of warmth is conveyed by the yellow light that bathes the trees in most of the images. In contrast, the second thread is a documentation of the urbanisation that is replacing the natural farmland. Tinged with cold blue, the photos capture a process of synthetic creation from which the photographer is clearly distancing herself. Abandoned playgrounds, piles of rocks excavated to make way for construction, building sites and
responsibility, her work neatly fits into Derrick Price’s
It is the combination of the two series into a single body of work that creates the compelling narrative that pushes the series out of the realm of a mere recording of facts.
definition of what he calls the paradigmatic form
a plain representation of the facts would allow. The
of documentary photography that began to take
tenderness with which she treats the dying trees
shape in the 1930s.2
contrasts strikingly with the almost post-apocalyptic
herself refers to these bleak landscapes as dystopian. AlKhalifa describes her work as documentary. To the extent that her images are untouched save for occasional cropping, they conform to one of the central principles of the documentary aesthetic, maintaining veracity and genuineness1. That the photographs capture her subject matter within a framework that puts it forth in a way that builds a case for reform, change and greater civic and corporate
feel of her photographs of construction and However, Disappearing pushes gratingly against
cityscapes. AlKhalifa has transformed Disappearing
the boundaries of documentary representation. As
into an act of self-expression, which according to
AlKhalifa faithfully records the demise of palms and
photographer, theorist and critic Allan Sekula is what
the tandem encroachment of urbanisation, it can be
transforms documentary photography into art.
argued that the work is, as she claims, documentary. It is the combination of the two series into a single
‘Documentary is thought to be art when it transcends
body of work that creates the compelling narrative
its reference to the world, when the work can be
that pushes the series out of the realm of a mere
regarded, first and foremost, as an act of self-
recording of facts.
expression on the part of the artist.’3
Disappearing does more than tell the story of how
AlKhalifa’s work is being exhibited at the Shaikh
nature is sacrificed in the name of ‘development.’
Ebrahim 15/15 show, which is being held at fifteen
AlKhalifa’s photographs, taken together, are
different locations throughout Muharraq and
imbued with far more meaning and emotion than
Manama, until the 15th March.
1-Price, Derrick & Wells, Liz (1996) Thinking about Photography: Debates, historically and now. 2-Price, Derrick (1996) Surveyors and Surveyed.
3-Sekula, Allan (1978) Dismantling Modernism, Reinventing Documentary (Notes on the Politics of Representation).
Untitled from the series Disappearing (2016) Memento 63.5 digital installation
Previous page: Untitled from the series Disappearing (2016) 500 x 400 cm fabric print mounted on a light box Below: Untitled from the series Disappearing (2016) Memento 63.5 digital installation
All Untitled from the series Disappearing (2016) Memento 63.5 digital installation
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Simon Njami, curator, lecturer and art critic.
Meriem Bouderbala: A Fathomless Enigma, Shared Exoticism A Fathomless Enigma
dimensions, reduced simultaneously to her essential appearance: breasts, sexual organs, legs.
Suddenly we are transported into the world of the Thousand and One Nights. Fantastical creatures, half -human, half-divine contemplate us and play with our
The Orientalist allusion, distant and ironic is present in the dance of the seven
perception. Through diffraction and kaleidoscope, the bodies are presented
veils, complete with jewels, belts, pearls, gestures, as the artist reproduces
only to be unrecognizable. Meriem Bouderbala does not make the same error
all the artefacts of seduction and transforms her characters into irresistible
as Narcissus as she is aware that all reflections are untruthful, as the reflection
Sirens. A phantasm thousands of years old, refined by its clear refusal to be
does not belong to us. As Lacan says, it is subject to the appreciation and
objectified, reborn as a kind of elusive sphinx whose invisible secret is only
the interpretation of others. In this false mirror Bouderbala reveals to us the
revealed to those who have solved inscrutable enigmas. Once again, we have
truth of a humanity divided between interior and exterior. The Thousand and
to struggle against the manipulation imposed by our senses.
One Nights, we think, as we observe these women, always the same woman, djinn and houri in an improbable paradise. The woman is of exaggerated
Using Prose Poetry, Meriem Bouderbala illustrates her origins, art and inspiration.
Text by Simon Njami, for the photography series Bedouinas.
intellectual in the opposition, he fought for Tunisia’s
transparent-like gazes of one at another, the false
transparency to oneself. This illusion and dream of transparency that modernity has shattered.
My grandfather, of Corsican origin, was a customs inspector at Gabes as were many Blackfoots. He and
Only flashes arise, juxtaposed with violence,
my grandmother hid Tunisian Jews to protect them
confused echoes of the atrocities of colonisation,
My name is Meriem Bouderbala.
from Nazi raids during the Second World War.
the uprooting, the current violence within these countries confronted with the modern world,
On my father’s side:
My mother met my father in Tunis, they married and
glittering fragments of a dreamed-up orient: these
My great grandmother, a Circassian, was
then I was born.
images that skew the quest for transparency and
kidnapped by Arab pirates and sold to the Bey
I have used the contemporary medium to make an
possibility of order.
of Tunis, who offered her to my great grandfather,
impossible transcription of my bearings, which were
general of his army.
Between exoticism and sharing, the impossible
curtailment of the foreigner. Exoticism is the gaze
My grandfather became a French national, left for
The gaze, being a prisoner of historical, psychological
of the other at a culture, one that is necessarily
Morocco and enjoyed the prizes of colonisation.
and sociological frameworks, can only every be
foreign; art is a shared dupery in the face of the
He returned to Tunisia a rich man just before the
blurred, endlessly reflecting the shimmering, uncertain
Independence, to become a Tunisian citizen.
surfaces of false transparency. My work is an abyss, a
succession of ephemeral suspensions, harmonising
I make of my core, of its altered and disturbed
My father was born French and did his military service
the individual gaze with the gaze of the other: Me,
photographic appearance, an ephemeral scene
in the French army. As my grandfather had become a
seeing Westerners looking at the Maghreb, me being
of tragedy that has no origin, nor end.
Tunisian national, my father studied in Paris, returned
both one who looks and the one who is looked at.
to Tunis, got married, and I was born.
Art, for me, exists in this borrowed time between the
The revolution closes in on itself and the realm of
gaze of one and the gaze of the other.
possibilities is shattered, we must go elsewhere.
My great grandfather was a Blackfoot who settled in
Transparency: art exists in an in-between state, inside
By Meriem Bouderbala. Translated from the French
Tunisia since the beginning of the protectorate. As an
the uncertain realm of transparent-like exchanges, the
by Dalia Hashim and Imogen Gemikonakli.
On my mother’s side:
Psykédélik 1, from the series Psykédélik (2013) Silver prints on diasec 170 x 120 cm
Bedouinas 12, from the series BĂŠdouinas (2009) Silver prints on diasec 160 x 120 cm
Bedouinas 9, from the series BĂŠdouinas (2009) Silver prints on diasec 160 x 120 cm
Vertigo 3 from the series Vertigo (2011) Silver prints on diasec 180 x 120 cm
Vertigo 2 from the series Vertigo (2011) Silver prints on diasec 180 x 120 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist and Green Art Gallery, Dubai. Writer - Rania Habib, editor.
Jaber Al Azmeh: Lines in The Sand When the desert is a refuge and the lens a tool for understanding The work of a photographer is akin to a birthing process for Jaber Al Azmeh. The Doha-based Syrian artist is romanticising his craft with this comparison, one that has allowed him to gain some perspective on highly emotional situations. A case in point is his last solo show at Dubai’s Green Art Gallery, Border-Lines, held between May-June 2016, which deliberately and thoughtfully explored the roots and legacy of war—though this was not initially Al Azmeh’s plan. Quite the contrary, in fact. While his previous bodies of work, such as Wounds (2012) and Ba’ath (2014), were a direct reaction to the conflict in Syria, Border-Lines was born out of his need to distance himself from the horrors that continue to grip his home country. The photographer fled his home and studio five years ago and relocated 30 kilometres outside of the capital Damascus, on a plot of land in the countryside. ‘I don’t like cities,’ he says, referring to the exhibition’s focus on desert scenes. ‘I love quietness, I love nature, and in Doha, nature is embodied through the desert. I fell in love with it instantly.’ His photographs began as visual experimentations; purely aesthetic ones at that. Al Azmeh was consciously keeping at bay the political overtones of his previous works. And so he focused on the tyre tracks that led him, and countless others, to the wide expanse of the desert—the place where he sought refuge. Out of these shots was born the first theme of the exhibition, Survival. ‘Perhaps my subconscious was trying to reveal something,’ says Al Azmeh. ‘Eventually, when I looked at the images of the tyre tracks, I realised that I was photographing people moving—the way Syrians and other refugees were fleeing by sea, by road, any way for survival, with no idea where they were going.’ Then came Nationalism, the series of photos that referenced refugees stuck—and humiliated—at borders. ‘I cannot understand the concept
of people fleeing massacres yet being
with his imagery: stark, Orwellian,
told they cannot cross a certain line once
minimalistic photographs printed on
they get to safety,’ Al Azmeh says. ‘This
cotton rag fine art archival paper depict
is the kind of nationalistic thinking that
surveillance cameras, oil barrels, a row
I am not a fan of.’ Madness reflected
of buses, a rusted billboard devoid of a
the photographer’s incomprehension
message, border patrols, tunnels and the
of a ‘crazy’ situation, and Soaring his
purgatorial vastness of the desert. This
moments of clarity and positivity amid
aerial perspective on what Al Azmeh felt
the ugliness of war.
was a Syrian issue became an outlet for a universal reality, one that leaves the artist
All the images in the exhibition have one
saying ‘enough.’ He says: ‘Those lines are
thing in common; a line—a compositional
a way to say, ‘enough of this madness’, or
aspect that partitions dream and reality,
if you want to be more positive, they are
conscious and subconscious. Al Azmeh
the lines of the horizon, one that holds a
questions the roots and legacy of war
Top: Madness 1,2 and 3 from the series Border-Lines (2015) Archival pigment print 100 x 150 cm Bottom two images: Madness 4 and 5 from the series Border-Lines (2015) Archival pigment print 26 x 40 cm
Perhaps my subconscious was trying to reveal something. Eventually, when I looked at the images of the tyre tracks, I realised that I was photographing people moving.
All from the series Border-Lines (2015) Archival pigment print, left to right Top: Soaring 2, 60 x 90 cm Centre: Soaring 1, 26 x 40 cm - Soaring 4, 3, 5, 60 x 90 cm - Soaring 7, 26 x 40 cm Bottom: Soaring 6, 26 x 40 cm
All from the series Border-Lines (2015) Archival pigment print, left to right Top: Survival 10, 26 x 40 cm - Survival 6, 60 x 90 cm Centre: Survival 5, 7,12, 60 x 90 cm Bottom: Survival 8, 9, 26 x 40 cm
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Laura Egerton, curator.
Rula Halawani: The Bride is Beautiful, But She is Married to Another Man A foundation in three chapters The element of time is always worth investigating in
have to go through daily on film, which itself had been
the photographic output of Rula Halawani. There is
through the same X-ray treatment. After numerous
an acute directness and immediacy in the way she
journeys, the film was finally destroyed—it seemed
captures a moment, perhaps a skill left over from
nothing remained at all until she looked more
her decade-long work as a photo-journalist and yet
closely. After scanning and adjusting the negatives
what remains is something that feels part of history.
in Photoshop, she uncovered ghostly images of
Her life and work are defined by her experience of
the barricaded walkways and cages, they came up
living in occupied East Jerusalem. Halawani’s latest
in a bluish coloration and she intentionally left the
series, commissioned by the Sharjah Art Foundation
perforation marks intact. The artist explains: ‘The
is made up of three distinct chapters that together
checkpoint began to epitomise the way Palestinian
effectively tell the Palestinian story.
people are confined and trapped in small places with no freedom of movement under the occupation.’
The title references a historical passage from two
They tell an anonymous story of a nation under siege.
Rabbis who visited Palestine in the late 19 century, th
recognising that the land was inhabited by a
What the artist experienced at the checkpoints,
however, were personal stories. She asked individuals if she could photograph them, creating the second
‘I feel in this project I did what I really wanted to
part of the series. ‘These ten images symbolise
achieve in photography.’ says the artist. ‘Photography
the whole population, says Halawani. They are
is a whole world by itself, you can do so much with
Palestinians, that’s it.’ Each taken in front of the same
it.’ Her practice is driven by experimentation: she was
old, stone wall, the facial expressions and poses
originally a mathematics student. A project often ends
captured in these portraits are mesmerising. They
up vastly different from her original intention, but that
are incredibly moving representations of humanity.
is the beauty of it: ‘I don’t photograph with my eyes, I photograph with my heart, intuitively.’
Their power is even stronger when seen alongside the final works in the series. Shot as if seen on television
Inspired by stories of incidents involving X-ray
screens, the artist selected 28 images from the Matson
machines at Israeli checkpoints, the photographer
Photography collection depicting Palestine pre-
decided to illustrate the effect that going through an
occupation, between 1900-1947. Initially intending
X-ray has on a person. Spending time at checkpoints
to photograph scenes of occupied Palestine as they
throughout occupied Palestine, she took photographs
appeared on news bulletins in the UAE and France
of the enclosures and machines that many Palestinians
while a recipient of the Production Programme at the
A project often ends up vastly different from her original intention, but that is the beauty of it
X-rayed photos (2016) Archival pigment print 68 x 180 cm
Sharjah Art Foundation and on residency
industry. It is also heartbreaking to compare
at the Camargo Foundation last year,
it to the two earlier parts in the series, which
Halawani changed her mind and decided
represent where Palestine is now.
to use archival photographs instead. The final selection edits out pictures of
Much of the effectiveness of Halawani’s
massacres, the occupation, diaspora
work comes from her decision to use black
and instead focuses on ‘pictures of the
and white photography for contemporary
beautiful life, how it was, how people were
shots. The way she manipulates and often
living before occupation.’ It is fascinating
damages negatives and the images she
to see the sophistication of life as it once
creates in shooting with old cameras are
was: the standard of hospitals, schools,
part of what makes her artwork unique
transportation, culture, agriculture and
Portraits (2016) Archival pigment print 80 x 100 cm
TV (2016) Archival pigment print 30.6 x 45 cm
STUDIO VISIT Images - Courtesy of the artist, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut and Hamburg. Writer - Abdellah Karroum, Director of Mathaf.
Wael Shawky: Art, Anthropology, Culture and Storyboards Offering an analysis of human history Wael Shawky is a visual artist inspired by literature
to understand more by making this work. Reading
and storytelling. The best time to visit him at his
a text does not make me understand the situation,
studio is at night, when he is working on developing
but transforming it into this experience allows me to
storyboards, drawing, painting and sometimes writing.
learn something very different. It’s not only an artistic
On recent regular visits to his studio in the Fire Station
approach, I think it has something to do with, let’s say,
in Doha to discuss ways of displaying his work for
offering an analysis of human history,’ Shawky says
an upcoming exhibition, we spent most of the time
in our conversations in the studio.
talking about politics, history, music and literature. He often continued to work on paintings when talking
His most well known works are probably Al Araba
about the stories that inspired him, such as those in
Al Madfuna (2010-2016), using Egyptian writer
most important of which is probably Michelangelo
the writings of historical, modern and contemporary
Mohamed Mostagab’s novels and Cabaret Crusades
Pistolletto when Shawky was in residency at his
writers Amin Maalouf, Mohamed Mostagab and
(2011-2015), inspired by Lebanese author Amin
Citta del Arte.
Abdul Rahman Munif; and those of his childhood
Maalouf’s Crusades Through Arab Eyes. Both series
in Mecca; and from explorations of Upper Egypt,
are composed as a trilogy of films and a series of
Shawky is an artist with a sense of turning his art and
which have given him an acute awareness of real and
drawings, sculptures and installations. The last thirty
research into opportunities to share and teach. He
minutes of his most recent film Al Araba Al Madfuna
created Mass Alexandria in Egypt, where he hired a
III uses inverted images, provoking contradictory
generation of younger artists and creatives interested
On finishing his studies in art in 2000 at Pennsylvania
reactions from audiences who prefer comfortable
in art and filmmaking. It quickly became a model
University, he went back to Alexandria–where he had
images even when talking about social drama.
where the artist also edits his videos. He is currently
originally studied Fine Arts at Alexandria University
He is the kind of active reader who can connect the present world to the histories and stories of the past.
extensively traveling in the Gulf region, as he is working
in the 1990s–and began a continuous exchange
One of the most successful and prolific artists of his
on a new major project still in the research stage, in a
working between East and West. He is part of the
generation, Shawky is able to deliver several major
studio provided by Qatar Museums, in Doha. There,
Generation 00 that emerged in the 2000s, with strong
museum shows in the same year. His exhibitions at
he enlisted a group of young researchers interested in
works immediately approaching political, social and
MoMA-PS1 and at Mathaf in 2015 were the most
the recent history of the region to think about today’s
historical topics, in the context of major shifts in North
visible to-date, and less than one year later, large
world through the lenses of art, anthropology, culture
Africa and West Asian countries.
scale shows are dedicated to his work by Kunsthaus
and politics. While the fictional worlds of Shawky’s
Bregenz, Castello di Rivoli, and Fondazione Merz.
films seem far behind in competing with the reality
Shawky’s approach looks at history and its different
Qatar Museums acquired the entire series of
of war and other violent conflicts present in his works,
narratives; but he also uses literature and storytelling.
Cabaret Crusades and Al Araba Al Madfuna films
his invention of a spectacular artistic vocabulary allows
He is the kind of active reader who can connect the
after commissioning the third part of each project.
him to communicate in ways that are not explicit, but
present world to the histories and stories of the past.
He has also participated in international exhibition
diversely imaginative. Not violent, but intensely strong.
His work points towards historical and fictional topics
on all continents including Venice Bienniale (2003)
but it also connects us to present conflicts in the world.
at the Arsenal, Marrakech (2009), Sidney (2014).
This text is following a studio visit in Doha, where
‘History is extremely important today. It is my intention
He collaborated with major international artist, the
Wael is currently based.
The Path to Cairo from the series Cabaret Crusades (2012) HD video, color, sound, 60.53 minutes. Video still Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut and Hamburg The Horror Show File from the series Cabaret Crusades (2010) HD video, color, sound, 31.49 minutes. Video still Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut and Hamburg The Secrets of Karbalaa from the series Cabaret Crusades (2014) Single channel HD-video, colour, sound, c. 120 minutes. Video still Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut and Hamburg
Al Araba Al Madfuna I (2012) HD video, b/w, sound, 21.21 minutes. Video still Courtesy the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut and Hamburg
Al Araba Al Madfuna III (2016) Still from 4k video, colour, sound, 25 minutes Courtesy of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
Al Araba Al Madfuna III (2016) Still from 4k video, colour, sound, 25 minutes Courtesy of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Rula Khoury, art historian, critic and curator.
Wafa Hourani: The Spirit of Buildings Installation and memories ‘I like the word believe. In general, when one says ‘I
startlingly the word ‘Expelled’ is spoken in a man’s
know,’ one doesn’t know, one believes.’
voice, interrupting this peaceful melody.
With his installation, Cinema Dunia, Wafa Hourani
This striking music and the voices are a mystery to
has built an environment that is symbolic of the
us. We walk around the installation searching for
changing face of the city of Ramallah and showed the
some video that might synchronise with the music
importance of new media, including photography
and sounds we are hearing. We discover that the
and cinema. Hourani arrived at his artistic practice
video’s source is inside the miniature cinema hall,
through earlier forays into filmmaking. He has
needing to peek inside in order to watch. A real
become well known for sculptural works that he calls
movie is screened and small figures watch this video
Future Cities, and a series of projects called Qalandia
montage edited from the Palestinian Cinema Archive
2047-2067-2087. These works confront the social,
and combined with footage from the installation
political, and economic realities of Palestinian life.
itself. We discover surprising movements and artifacts in the installation. Posters of imaginary films
Detailed scaled models combine photography
hang on the walls, recalling a history of Palestinian
and sculpture dealing with the everyday life in a
cinema that never took place. Cars pass by in the
Palestinian camp. It is located near one of the main
streets. Twisted humour is present in the form of a
large checkpoints that controls the entrance into
toy lion standing on one of the rooftops. When we
and movement from Ramallah.
wander around we find a world apart from our own surrounding the cinema, a make-believe Palestinian
Hourani’s work, Cinema Dunia (2012), similar to
Future Cities in the spirit of building miniatures, deals with the recreation of the first cinema built in
The installation replicates a precise miniature reality,
Street, one of the busiest and most beautiful streets
Ramallah, in the 1950s. The model is installed in a
projecting the image of the installation back inside
in Ramallah. There was a public green garden at
dim and isolated room. A long yearning soundtrack
the work itself. The installation is assumed to be
the end of the street and an ice cream shop called
from the interior of a miniature model of a cinema
more genial than the subject that Hourani represents,
Rukab, famous for its pistachio and mastic flavors
hall waves out of the sculpture through its open
with his miniature sculptures and everyday scenes.
(still open today). It was not until after the 1967
windows. The soundtrack, a journey filled with
It both provokes and questions Palestinian society
war against the Israeli Occupation that people lost
different tones of music and dialogue, soft rock
and the environment in which we live.
interest in the cinema. Israeli taxes forced Cinema
music—the kind that sucks you into longing—shifting
Dunia to go out of business in 1984, and by the end
into the sad sounds of violins, merging with the
Cinema Dunia was the first of three movie houses
of the 1980s, when the first intifada started, all the
sound of wind and soft piano. Then suddenly and
in Ramallah. It was built by the Massayef Ramallah
cinemas were shut down by the Palestinian Solidarity
Company and opened its doors in 1944, four years
Movement for the safety of the people. Fourteen
before the Nakba in 1948. It was located on Rukab
years later, the owner decided to demolish it and
1 - Marcel Duchamp, Duchamp du signe, Paris, Flammarion, 1975, p. 185.
The installation Cinema Dunia is an attempt to document an alternative Palestine, one which lives in people’s minds; it is an attempt to recreate by force a motherland, in contrast to the harsh visible reality.
Al Masjed Al Wased
use the land for parking. Cinema Dunia became Dunia
an illusion in which the boundaries between fact and
Their absence all along this period is depicted through
Parking for eight years; and is now a commercial tower
fiction, real and artificial, actual and virtual reality become
their illusionary presence in this installation. Would the
called Dunia Trade Centre. Various shops and fast food
much more engaged and blurred, presenting illusion
people of Ramallah have had more hope now if Cinema
places, such as KFC and Pizza Hut, stand in the place
as self-reflection. Hourani believes that the secrets are
Dunia still existed? How would it be configured in their
of this once iconic movie house.
more powerful than the images; and that the image is
disappearing in hyper reality. Hourani, explains the intentions of his installation: ‘In
Often, personal Palestinian narratives blur the borders
order for the content to be more accessible to the
Hourani explains, ‘if art can carry part of the collective
between reality, dreams and illusions. The installation
public and in order for it to involve them more, I have
memory and some of the responsibilities of a nation,
Cinema Dunia is an attempt to document an alternative
created a dark scene full of imaginary layers that can
I think that in order to make an atmospheric artwork,
Palestine, one which lives in people’s minds; it is an
take the place of the public in the exhibition so that
an illusionary scene, there has to be a minimum of reality
attempt to recreate by force a motherland, in contrast
they can experience more closely the social and political
in it.’ This message is communicated within the fanciful
to the harsh visible reality.
complexities in Palestine.’ Engaging with the installation,
space of the installation and the video montage that
exploring it, and wandering around it allows the viewer
Hourani produces, which serves to question the essence
There is a difference between imagining a thing and
to discover the layers upon layers of complexity inherent
of loss for the Palestinian people, becoming a secret
believing in its existence—between supposition and
to the subject of Cinema Dunia.
buried in their memories. Rukab street’s, Cinema Dunia’s
submission to absolute truth. In the latter case, the
and the social collective’s meetingpoint changed with
narrative is not only conjured up by the mind, but is
This installation addresses the issue of urban development
the daily life under occupation. The cinema, whose role
believed to exist in reality. Belief is thus the mental
in Ramallah. Hourani makes art as a model, producing
is to document the lost image of Palestine is now lost.
state or function of cognising reality; and it makes all
life within it with a dynamic of hide and seek. In general,
By shutting down the cinemas, they have also done
the difference in providing certainty and conviction to
to copy something of the original structures is to create
away with the motivation to produce Palestinian films.
a people who have long lost theirs.
Qalandia 2087 Mixed media installation in 6 parts with sound, variable size, 2009Â
Installation view: Panorama from Qalandia Project, 2014, mixed media, 24.5 x 50 x 7 in. Courtesy of the artist. Image courtesy of Weatherspoon Art Museum/ UNCG, 2015.
FESTIVAL Images - Courtesy of the artist and Agial Art Gallery.
Driving the Car. For the participation of Photomed Liban 2017, Agial Art Gallery selected a series by Clara Abi Nader titled Driving the Car (2010-11).
The series follows people driving their cars around their city, capturing fleeting
of a second to throw my curious eye, attracted by a hand, a face, a light, which
moments of the everyday in traffic. As the artist sees it: “there are days when
make my heart beat very hard; and then my brain commands me to go hunting.
driving is a liberation [to her], a relief…Drive around, until the roundabout or the
To hunt, yes. Imagination, memory. "Where are you going?" I want to tell them,
bridge, open windows, arms dangling, before it is time to go back to reality”.
"who are you?". There is this tiny tension, am I intruding? Do I let go of an
It's only a second or two, when one of us passes the other and I have a thousandth
almost perfect encounter? No... definitely not "...