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ISSUE 06/2018

PANTONE® 123M Shining Bright #onSaudiArtscene

CONTEMPORARY: Ab-Anbar, Tehran · Addis Fine Art, Addis Ababa / London · Agial Art Gallery, Beirut · Aicon Gallery, New York · Artside Gallery, Seoul · Artwin Gallery, Moscow · Aspan Gallery, Almaty · Piero Atchugarry Gallery, Pueblo Garzón · ATHR, Jeddah · Ayyam Gallery, Dubai / Beirut · bäckerstrasse4, Vienna · Galería Elba Benítez, Madrid · Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York / Aspen · Galleri Brandstrup, Oslo · Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney · Canvas Gallery, Karachi · Carbon 12, Dubai · Galleria Continua, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / La Habana · Custot Gallery, Dubai · Dastan’s Basement, Tehran · Elmarsa, Tunis / Dubai · Espacio Valverde, Madrid · Experimenter, Kolkata · Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Dubai · Galerie Imane Farès, Paris · Selma Feriani Gallery, Tunis / London · Saskia Fernando Gallery, Colombo · GALERIST, Istanbul · Gallery 1957, Accra · Gazelli Art House, Baku / London · Green Art Gallery, Dubai · Grosvenor Gallery, London · Gypsum Gallery, Cairo · Hafez, Jeddah · Leila Heller Gallery, New York / Dubai · Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London · i8 Gallery, Reykjavik · Ikkan Art Gallery, Singapore · INDA Gallery, Budapest · Kalfayan Galleries, Athens / Thessaloniki · Khak Gallery, Tehran / Dubai · Galerie Dorothea van der Koelen, Mainz / Venice · Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna · Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai · Galerie Lelong & Co., Paris / New York · John Martin Gallery, London · Meem Gallery, Dubai · Victoria Miro, London/ Venice · Galerie Mitterrand, Paris · Mohsen Gallery, Tehran · Galleria Franco Noero, Turin · Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco · Officine dell’Immagine, Milan · Gallery One, Ramallah · Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo / Singapore / Shanghai · Pace Art + Technology, Menlo Park · Giorgio Persano, Turin · Plutschow Gallery, Zurich · Galerie Polaris, Paris · Project ArtBeat, Tbilisi · Katharina Maria Raab, Berlin · Revolver Galería, Lima / Buenos Aires · Rosenfeld Porcini, London · Sanat Gallery, Karachi · SANATORIUM, Istanbul · Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Hamburg / Beirut · Sophia Contemporary, London · Galerie Michael Sturm, Stuttgart · TAFETA, London · Galerie Tanit, Munich / Beirut · TEMPLON, Paris / Brussels · The Third Line, Dubai · Vermelho, Sao Paulo · VOICE Gallery, Marrakech · x-ist, Istanbul · Zawyeh Gallery, Ramallah · Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, Luxembourg · Zilberman Gallery, Istanbul / Berlin MODERN: Agial Art Gallery, Beirut · Akara Art, Mumbai · Albareh Art Gallery, Manama · Aria Gallery, Tehran · Le Violon Bleu, Tunis · DAG, New Delhi / Mumbai / New York · Elmarsa, Tunis / Dubai · Grosvenor Gallery, London · Hafez Gallery, Jeddah · Karim Francis Gallery, Cairo · Mark Hachem, New York / Paris / Beirut · Gallery One, Ramallah · Perve Galeria, Lisbon · Sanchit Art, New Delhi · Ubuntu Art Gallery, Cairo · Wadi Finan Art Gallery, Amman RESIDENTS: 1x1 Art Gallery, Dubai [Poonam Jain] · Erti Gallery, Tbilisi [Tato Akhalkatsishvili] · Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Seattle [Zohra Opoku] · Galerie Kornfeld, Berlin [Farshad Farzankia] · Lakum Artspace, Riyadh [Faris Alosaimi] · The Mine, Dubai [Yasuaki Onishi] · Öktem&Aykut, Istanbul [Jennifer İpekel] · Orbital Dago, Bandung [Iabadiou Piko] · ROBERTO PARADISE, San Juan [José Lerma] · The Rooster Gallery, Vilnius [Kristina Alisauskaite] · Tyburn Gallery, London [Victor Ehikhamenor]

Misk Art Institute, In partnership with the Wrold VR Forum and Art Dubai present the regional premier of


This retrospective exhibition, with 'Ten' as the theme, will celebrate the Emirates Photography Competition by showcasing a collection of winning and shortlisted works from all its editions. th

27 November 2017 st until 31 March 2018 Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi manaratalsaadiyat.ae


Works from the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) in dialogue with the Emirates 2 February – 17 March 2018 Manarat Al Saadiyat, Gallery A The first Arab World presentation of the MACBA collection, one of the most significant in contemporary art in Europe. Over 90-years of works by more than 70 artists from 20 countries, including 20 Emirati artists – brought together in a pioneering exhibition that explores what defines us as humans.

ABUDHABIFESTIVAL.AE Constant Construction with Transparent Plans, 1954 Methacrylate, aluminium and iron 76 x 73 x 48 cm MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Fundación Repsol Collection ©Constant, 2017 Photographer: Tony Coll


‘Haute Photographie creates a new experience for the seasoned art collector as well as the young photography fan. A fair without booths, pushing the idea of the art fair to a new level’. - Roy Kahmann, Founder

W W W. H AU T E - P H O T O G R A P H I E . C O M


ART- IC UL AT E .O RG Editorial + Content Development Art, Design + Culture


Issue 06 / 2018

Editor’s note



Refusing To Be Still, After Darkness,

Alia Ali ............................................110

Ishara, 10 Years Later, Venice Biennale

By Lizzy Vartanian Collier

The Art Dubai edition of tribe is always

of the present for the future: this is

2017, Photographs of Sheikh Zayed,

Ghada Khunji .................................116

an exciting one. It’s about meeting

apparent in the recent interest in

From Barcelona to Abu Dhabi, Perpetual

By Sulaf Derawy Zakharia

old friends and discovering new ones.

documenting Makkah and its expansion,

Movement, ZFotoFest, (Un)conscious,

Jalal Bin Thaneya ...........................120

The weeks leading up to the fair are

in the developing photographic archives

Shadi Megallaa and Karim Sultan

By Danna Lorch

demanding to say the least, but the

of Arab architecture and infrastructure,

Latif Al Ani ......................................126 REVIEW

industry is buzzing with creative energy.

in the increased visual exploration of

By Suzy Sikorski

We all love what we do, and this is the

the current positions of women in the

(ADPP) .......................................26

Moath Alofi ....................................132

month to put our best forward.

Arab world, and finally in the present

By Simone Salvo

By Sandra Williams

Wild Moments ..........................30

Myriam Abdelaziz ..........................138

The Arab world is diverse—a rich

by Janet Bellotto

By Lulu Al-Sabah

assortment of countries, dialects,

AFAC .........................................34

Zeinab Al Hashemi ........................144

national dress, and cultural nuance. Tribe,

Artists working in photography are

by Emma Warburton

By Sabrina DeTurk

as a magazine about contemporary

arguably archeologists of the visual.

Arwa Abouon ...........................36

Tarek Al-Ghoussein ........................150

photography and new media, reflects

However, within this archaeological

By Valerie Behiery, Ph.D

By Kevin Mitchell

this diversity. In this issue, genres such

thread, the work in this issue reveals a

as wildlife and underwater photography

refreshing trend: rather than uncovering,

are included alongside autobiographical

investigating, and reframing the past,

Basma Al Sharif .........................40

photographic documentation of the landscape, the oceans, and the wild life.

By Anna Seaman


Karimeh Abbud Award..............42

Video Installation ...........................156

work, and work about the medium of

contemporary photographers based in

By Mahasan Nasser-Eldin

By Mohammed Al Faraj

photography itself, to capture the

the Arab world are documenting that

diversity of vision, experience, and

which exists today, in hopes that it will

artistic methodology that informs the

remain for tomorrow.

Moataz Nasr ..............................46 By Dr. Shiva Balaghi


Ourouba ....................................48

Farah Salem ...................................160

practises of Arab photographers working

By Lizzy Vartanian Collier

Joanna Barakat ..............................166

in a contemporary climate.

She Who tells A Story ...............50

Alexandra Nazari ...........................172

By Danna Lorch

Lara Atallah ....................................178

Compiling the content for this issue,

featured work, as it indicates a common

Ali Shehabi .....................................182 IN CONVERSATION

several thematic threads linking many

concern for the state of culture, nature,

Majid Angawi .................................188

of the featured artists’ work were quickly

and history in an Arab context, and a

Eman Ali & Manal Al Dowayan.52

Sultan bin Fahad

identified: preservation, documentation,

unifying goal to preserve that which

Ala Younis & Maha Mamoun.....60

and Osama Esid ............................194

and interpretation, to name a few, are

remains in our present, for the benefit

important concepts framing much of

of our collective futures.



Ahmed Mater.............................66

Ali Bin Thalith .................................200

We at tribe are excited to see this theme being explored in much of the

the contemporary photography work

By Jumana Ghouth

emerging in the Arab world. Simply put,


artists are exploring the preservation

Mustapha Azeroual....................84 By Emma Warburton Ebtisam Abdulaziz .....................94

PROJECT SPACE Banat Collective ............................206

By Dr.Woodman Taylor Karimeh Abbud .............................104

Cover Image: Ahmed Mater The Courtyard of Paradise (2015) From the series Artificial Light/ Desert of Pharan series  Laserchrome print on ,140 × 200 cm Supported By:

By Kevin Jones

f tribephotonewmedia d tribephotomag www.tribephotonewmedia.com Media Partnerships:

Publisher Mubarik Jafery

Assistant Editor Woodman Taylor

Legal Consultant Fatimah Waseem

Photo Editor Sueraya Shaheen

Business Devlopment Nanda Collins

Design Channels

Associate Editor New Media Janet Bellotto

Distribution Leena Malik

Artfair Coordinator Daveeda Shaheen

Design Assistant Zia Paulachak Jafery Laradona Shaheen Print Consultant Sivadas Menon Production Manager Gopinath.V.C

Pre Press Rana Veera Kumar Print Supervisor Nayeemuddin Printer Vimalan Jones Solomon

Contact editorial@ink.com sales@ink.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.

‫ﺑﻌﺪ ﻋﺸﺮ ﺳﻨﻮﺍﺕ‬ 10 Years Later ‫ ﻧﺪ ﺍﻟﺸﺒﺎ‬،‫ ﺗﺸﻜﻴﻞ‬،٢٠١٨ ‫ ﺍﺑﺮﻳﻞ‬٢٦ - ‫ ﻣﺎﺭﺱ‬١٣ 13 March - 26 April 2018, Tashkeel, Nad Al Sheba Tashkeel celebrates a decade of contemporary art and design practice with a milestone exhibition of commissioned works by leading practitioners from the UAE and beyond whose own development has been integral to its story. Also featuring a major publication, talks, tours and workshops, find out all this and more online. T 00 971 4 3363313 E tashkeel@tashkeel.org A PO Box 122255, Dubai, UAE

ً ‫ﻣﻌﺮﺿﺎ ﺑﺎﺭﺯﺍ ﻣﻦ‬ ‫ﺗﺤﺘﻔﻞ "ﺗﺸﻜﻴﻞ" ﺑﻌﻘﺪ ﻣﻦ ﺍﻟﻔﻦ ﺍﻟﻤﻌﺎﺻﺮ ﻭﻣﻤﺎﺭﺳﺔ ﺍﻟﺘﺼﻤﻴﻢ ﻣﻊ‬ ‫ﺍﻷﻋﻤﺎﻝ ﺍﻟﺘﻲ ﻗﺎﻡ ﺑﻬﺎ ﻛﺒﺎﺭ ﺍﻟﻤﻤﺎﺭﺳﻴﻦ ﻣﻦ ﺍﻹﻣﺎﺭﺍﺕ ﻭﺧﺎﺭﺟﻬﺎ ﺍﻟﺬﻳﻦ ﻛﺎﻧﺖ ﺗﻨﻤﻴﺘﻬﻢ ﺟﺰﺀﺍ‬ ،‫ ﺟﻮﻻﺕ ﻭﻭﺭﺵ ﺍﻟﻌﻤﻞ‬،‫ ﻣﺤﺎﺩﺛﺎﺕ‬،‫ ﻛﻤﺎ ﻳﻀﻢ ﺍﻟﻤﻨﺸﻮﺭ ﻣﻌﻠﻤﺎ‬.‫ﻻ ﻳﺘﺠﺰﺃ ﻣﻦ ﻗﺼﺘﻬﺎ‬ .‫ﻭﻟﻤﻌﺮﻓﺔ ﺍﻟﻤﺰﻳﺪ ﻋﻦ ﻫﺬﺍ ﻋﺒﺮ ﺍﻻﻧﺘﺮﻧﺖ‬


Writers Anna Seaman is an independent arts and cultural

Select exhibitions include: Residuals of Gravity,

Kevin Mitchell is Professor of Architecture and

writer based in Dubai, UAE. She was visual arts

CDA Projects, Istanbul, Turkey; Nile Blue, Red

currently serves as Vice Provost for Undergraduate

specialist at The National newspaper for five years

Head Gallery, Toronto; Aquatica, Harvey Nichols,

Affairs and Instruction, at the American Universityof

and prior to that editor of Brownbook magazine.

Dubai; The Lure, De Luca Fine Art Gallery, Toronto;

Sharjah (AUS). Writings on design and architecture

Anna is from the UK and has been living in the UAE

and the 12th Cairo Biennale, Egypt. Bellotto

have appeared in The Superlative City; Dubai and

for more than a decade. www.annaseaman.com

was Artistic Director for the 20th International

the Urban Condition in the Early Twenty- First

Symposium on Electronic Art held in Dubai during

Century, Economy and Architecture, The Courtyard

2014. www.janetbellotto.com f janetbellotto

House: Between Cultural Expression and Universal

Danna Lorch is an independent arts and culture writer with a graduate degree in Middle Eastern

Application, and Contemporary Urban Landscapes

Studies from Harvard University. Her work has

Jumana Ghouth graduated with a BA in Design

of the Middle East. Professor Mitchell recently

appeared in ARTnews, Elephant, Vogue Arabia,

from University of Dar Al Hekma, Jeddah, Saudi

co-chaired the “ Representation: Process and

Architectural Digest Middle East, The National, and

Arabia. In 2011, she joined ATHR, the first

Practice across Design Disciplines (PPADD) 2018”

elsewhere. With a background directing NGOs in

contemporary gallery and art platform in the

Conference, which brought together academics and

refugee camps, she is especially intrigued by art’s

Kingdom, as a Curator & Exhibitions Manager,

practitioners to explore representational strategies,

intersections with human rights, gender, and politics.

working closely with artists like Nasser Al Salem

methods and media in contemporary art and design

f DannaWrites

and Ahmed Mater. Her first large show was titled

education and practice.

Language of Human Consciousness featuring Emma Warburton is an independent arts writer

40 local and international artists. Amongst her

Lisa Reinisch is a journalist and writer based in Abu

and curator currently based in Toronto, Ontario.

curatorial endeavors are ATHR’s booth at Art Basel

Dhabi, from where she has been reporting since

She holds an undergraduate degree in painting

Hong Kong titled Why Is The Power Button Always

2009. Internationally, her work has appeared in

and drawing as well as a graduate degree in

a Circle? At present, Jumana is senior manager

Monocle, Wanderlust, Architektur and Atlas, among

contemporary curatorial studies. She currently

of Arts & Culture in King Abdullah Economic

others. In the United Arab Emirates, she has written

works full time as a Curatorial Intern for Modern

City, whilst working on her upcoming project,

for The National, Brownbook and Harper’s Bazaar

and Contemporary Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario,

The Chain Tales; a ten-volume project based on

Art, and authored books on media history, public

and holds the position of editorial assistant for Tribe

‘curated text’, manifesting in publication form,

art and Emirati culture.

magazine. Emma regularly writes for a number

each volume consisting of 100 contributed texts,

of print and online based art publications, and

ending the project at its 1,000th contribution.

maintains an informal but active art practise based



in painting, drawing and ephemeral sculpture. f

Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a strong interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and

Kevin Jones is an independent arts writer based

an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of

in Dubai. New York-born and Paris-bred, he has

Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and

Janet Bellotto is an artist and educator from Toronto,

lived in the Middle East for the past 11 years and

African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog

who splits her time teaching in Dubai as a Professor

is currently the UAE Desk Editor for ArtAsiaPacific.

and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas

and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and

He contributes regularly to The Art Newspaper,

Magazine, the Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia,

Creative Enterprises at Zayed University, UAE. She

Artforum.com, ArtReviewAsia and FlashArt

Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase

engages projects that promote cultural exchange

International. Regionally, his writing has been

Magazine. Lizzy is also curator of Perpetual

through curating and writing, with a current focus

published in Harper’s Bazaar Art Arabia, Bidoun,

Movement at Arab Women Artists Now - AWAN

on photography and new media art in the MENA

Canvas, Brownbook and The National. He holds

2018 (London) f gallerygirlldn

region. Her artworks explore waves of experience,

a BA with a double major English Literature/

fluid and aqueous moments through sculpture,

Journalism from Northwestern University. His

Lulu M Al-Sabah is the founder and Director of

installation, photographic processes, video and

MA is in Linguistics/Semiotics from La Sorbonne

JAMM, an art advisory firm, which specializes in

performance. Her work has been exhibited in a

Nouvelle (Paris III). His site, vinkejones.art, devoted

contemporary Arab and Iranian art. She hosted

variety of collective, group and solo exhibitions

to fostering a critical voice on contemporary art in

the first contemporary art auctions in Kuwait from

internationally, as well as at international art fairs.

the Gulf region, is perpetually launching.

2010 through 2013. From 2012 through 2016 she


18 tribe

established and ran a permanent exhibition space

projects. She received her BA in photography

from the Gulf on her websitetand other pioneer

in Dubai. Ms. Al-Sabah is the former Director of

and human rights at Bard College, and spent a

generations throughout the Gulf on her website

the Middle East at Phillips de Pury & Company.

year-long fellowship at King’s Academy in Madaba,

Mid East Art (mideastart.com) f mideastart

She previously worked for Christies and has

Jordan, developing the school’s community service

contributed to cultural magazines such as Canvas,

program. f magnumfoundation d MagnumFND

Eastern Art Report and Tribe.

Valerie Behiery is a Canadian arts writer whose research focuses on historical and contemporary

Sulaf Derawy Zakharia ia a Bahrain-based arts

visual culture from or relating to the Middle East,

Mahasen Nasser-Eldin is a documentary filmmaker

writer. Her work on contemporary Middle Eastern

with a special emphasis on gender, cross-culturality

and lecturer in visual cultures. She is the curator

art has been published in a number of print and

and the politics of representation. Having taught

of the Karimeh Abbud Photography Award and

on-line publications including L’agenda Golfe,

in Canada, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, she now

Exhibition. She is the director of the documentary

Brownbook, NuktaArt, Tribe Magazine, Universes-

serves as the contemporary Middle Eastern art

film Restored Pictures about the life and work of

in-Universe.com and ArtchronikaAnna

and Islamic art consultant at the Montreal Museum

Karimeh Abbud. Her films can be viewed through her website www.mahasenfilms.com.

of Fine Arts. Her writing has been published in Suzy Sikorski specializes in art history of the Gulf

numerous reference works, anthologies, peer-

region, completing a thesis on three generations

reviewed journals, art catalogues as well as art

Dr. Sabrina DeTurk is Assistant Professor of Art

of UAE artists at Fordham University, NY. As a

magazines, such as Nafas, esse, Arts Sacrés, and

History at Zayed University. Her research focuses

Fulbright Scholar in the UAE 2016-17, she furthered

Intense Art Magazine.

on cross-cultural currents between the art of the

her thesis documenting pioneer Emirati artists in

Middle East and the West from the Renaissance

their studios, and assisted Nasser Abdullah, curator

Woodman Taylor Performative practices of visual

to present day. Her books Street Art in the Middle

and Chairman of the 35th Annual Emirates Fine

culture in historic and contemporary South and

East: Place, Politics and Visual Style and Images

Art Society Exhibit. In 2016, Suzy was exhibition

West Asia are the foci of Woodman Taylor’s

of Women in Renaissance Venice: Social, Political

writer for GENERA#ION, Contemporary Saudi

interdisciplinary scholarship. With a Ph.D. from

and Economic Contexts will be published in 2018.

Arabian Art (Minnesota Street Project), San

the University of Chicago, he has taught at the

Dr. Shiva Balaghi is an independent scholar

Francisco, spearheaded by the King Abdulaziz

University of Illinois as well as at Jawaharlal Nehru

and curator based in Los Angeles, California.

Center for World Culture, Dahran, in collaboration

University in Delhi. After curating South Asian and

Follow her point of view on the art world on

with Gharem Studio and Culturunners. She

Islamic art at Harvard, and Boston’s Museum of


contributed to Oxford University Press’ Benezit

Fine Arts, Woodman now teaches at the American

Dictionary of Artists, with over 20 Arab and Iranian

University in Dubai, where he is Chair of the

Simone Salvo has been a part of the Magnum

artist biographies. Currently a Junior Specialist in

Department of Visual Communication, Professor

Foundation (MF) for four years, where she manages

Christie’s Dubai Post War and Contemporary Art

of Art History as well as founding convener of AUD’s

communications and events and works on special

Department, she continues to document artists

Visual Cultures Forum.

tribe 19


Image courtesy of the artist Emy Kat, from the project: THE VOID (2015- 2016) - Metal Structure (2015) 150 x 187cm

Refusing To Be Still: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Participating artists: Ibrahim Abumsmar, Abbas Akhavan, Hatem Ahmad,

In a fast-forming landscape of events, which characterises the contemporary

Ahaad Alamoudi, Badr Ali, Nora Alissa, Moath Alofi, Ahmad Angawi, Maeve

moment in Saudi, the 2018 edition of 21,39–Jeddah Arts, investigates the

Brennan, BRICKLAB (Abdulrahman and Turki Gazzaz), Ayman Yossri Daydban,

multifaceted practices that emerge in this continuously active domain. Now

Aya Haidar, Emy Kat, Ilona Kálnoky, Ali Kazma, Hussein Al Mohassen,

in its fifth edition and titled Refusing To Be Still, themes such as history and

Mohamed Monaiseer, Filwa Nazer, Abdelkarim Qassem, Abdul Aziz al Rashidi,

tradition, heritage and preservation, nature and artificiality, solid forms and

James Richards, Nasser Al Salem, Hrair Sarkissian, Saleh Serafi, Nojoud Al

unstable media will play a central role in the resolution of the project. Refusing

Sudairi, Eva Taulois, Kostis Velonis, Apitchapong Weersathekul, Mohammad

To Be Still has multiple meanings. From the endless exploration of ideas, to

Zaza, Ayman Zedani . The fifth edition runs until May 5.

never-ending thought processes arising in the most unexpected of places; from nomadic identities to time-based media and social media platforms that change

About the Curator: Vassilis Oikonomopoulos is a London-based curator

the ways identity is being understood and constructed; from the production

specialising in Modern and Contemporary Art. He is currently Assistant

of lived experience in precarious conditions and notions of safety and security

Curator, Collections International Art at Tate Modern, where he works for

in moments of uncertainty, the exhibition will uncover histories, moments and

Tate’s Middle East and North Africa Acquisitions Committee. At Tate, he has

practices that reflect on these and other pressing issues.

co-curated and organised a number of exhibitions, such the retrospective exhibition Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture and the 2016 Hyundai

20 tribe

[21,39]- Jeddah Arts is a non-profit initiative organized by the Saudi Art Council,

Commission Anywhen, with French artist Philippe Parreno in the Turbine Hall.

a group of local art supporters who wish to contribute to the local community

Prior to joining the Tate, Vassilis had held curatorial positions in galleries

through the promotion of art and culture in Jeddah.

and organisations internationally.


After Darkness: Anima-Mundi, Cornwall After Darkness opened at the Anima-Mundi gallery in St Ives, Cornwall. This solo exhibition of photographs by Abbie Trayler-Smith express the devastations of war and the trials of displacement, but they also capture the glimmer and humour in the eyes of women in Iraq, their pride and silent strength as stand in their kitchens, with their children or in the makeshift housing that they have fashioned into some semblance of home. She was struck by the horror of the situation, but also the resilience of the women, who silently held families together and fought bravely to keep their young children fed and safe, while standing behind or mourning the male members of their family. The exhibition is more than a humanitarian reportage—the evocative and moving images have been presented as a solo exhibition in a successful art gallery and have won numerous prizes, including being voted People’s Choice in this year’s National Portrait Gallery ‘Taylor Wessing Prizes.’ Sophie Kazan. After Darkness can be viewed online: anima-mundi.co.uk

Abbie Trayler-Smith, Fleeing Mosul (2016) C-type print, 37.5 x 30.5 cm Note: Sara, age 24 arrives at Hasan Sham Camp after being bussed straight from the battle. Convoys of vehicles packed with families fleeing the fighting in eastern Mosul are arriving at the camp in Northern Iraq, as the US led coalition fights the remaining ISIS stronghold in Iraq.

Ishara: Concrete, Dubai Ishara: Signs, Symbols and Shared Languages Ishara: Signs, Symbols and Shared Languages curated by Karim Sultan features new works by 10 UAE-based artists as well as by guest mentor artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian that in their work address themes related to communicating visually. The commissioned artists—Amna Al Dabbagh, Cheb Moha, Chndy, Dina Khorchid, Farah Al Qasimi, Flounder Lee, Nasir Nasrallah, Saba Qizilbash, Salem Al Mansoori and Shaikha Al Ketbi—created works for the exhibition. Four of the participating artists employed new media in their works. Farah Al Qasimi’s Everybody was Invited to a Party, pulls inspiration from the 1980s Arabic version of Sesame Street (Iftah Ya Simsim), using puppets to present language and letters as malleable objects without fixed meaning. The video seeks moments where failure to communicate creates a new opportunity. Shaikha Al Ketbi’s Ath’thaniyah, is an exploration of the artist’s subconscious, retrieving and constructing a monument accessed through her dreams. The work is process based, almost role playing the dream, and leads to more subconscious reactions, giving birth to more monuments. Ishara also includes two projects by local creatives Chndy and Cheb Moha who experiment digitally using Instagram accounts. The exhibition, the fourth in an annual series commissioned by H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Founder and patron of UAE Unlimited, was organized in collaboration with Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Founder of Alserkal Avenue and Alserkal Programming and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development. The exhibition is on view at Concrete in Alserkal until April 1. Writer – Woodman Taylor. Farah Al Qasimi, Everybody Was Invited To A Party (2018) Video performance stills

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10 Years Later: Celebrating 10 Years of Tashkeel, Dubai Tashkeel celebrates a decade of art and design practice with a milestone exhibition of commissions by 16 leading practitioners from the UAE and beyond whose own development has been integral to its story. Including Afshan Daneshvar, Ammar Al Attar, Areej Kaoud, Azza Al Qubaisi, eL Seed, Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi, Hind bin Demaithan, Maitha Demithan, Majid Alyousef, Manal Al Dowayan, Mark Pilkington, Myneandyours, Nasir Nasrallah, Ruben Sanchez, Wissam Shawkat, and Zuleika Penniman. Each has crossed paths with the organisation in some way, whether as a Tashkeel member, workshop instructor, artist-in-residence, or participant in a solo or group show. Spanning a wide range of disciplines, their works take many forms, including photography, sculpture, video, calligraphy, street art and installation. The publication Reference Point: A History of Tashkeel and UAE Art features a Q&A with Tashkeel Founder and Director Lateefa bint Maktoum, which documents the centre’s evolution as well as the development of the UAE art scene since 2008. The book will be available from Tashkeel (Nad Al Sheba) Alwayskeepthenegativesclean_HindBinDemaithan

Installation view from kiosk The Absence of Paths, Tunisian

National Pavilion.

Venice Biennale 2017: Venice, Italy The 57th Venice Biennale in 2017 had a strong presence of artists representing the Arab World. Some artists were represented in national pavilions at the Arsenale while others could be discovered at various collateral exhibitions organized throughout the city of Venice. The National Pavilion of Iraq exhibited eight modern and contemporary artists at Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti. The exhibition Archaic, which included 40 objects from the National Museum in Iraq, included the video animation The Hunter and the Hunted, by Sadik Kwaish Alfraji which captured the symbiotic yet adversarial relationship between hunters and their prey. The Tunisian National Pavilion, in its first iteration ever and curated by LIna Lazaar, presented The Absence of Paths that consisted of three kiosks at various locations within the Arsenale, where candidates applied and received a state-free passport. It brought up the bureaucratic, and often difficult process of immigration to a platform of utopia—as well as the potential to travel the world on this new passport without constraint or denial. The conversation continues online at www.theabsenceofpaths.com. Artist Moataz Nasr represented Egypt with The Mountain installed on five large screens within the pavilion, the only Arab pavilion in the Giardini. The multisensory experience explores the story of a village in Egypt as you walk through the black curtains and across a floor of dirt to view daily scenes, from day to night, that unfold, capturing the fear, and the inhibitions that exist, which then grow as monumental as the mountain backdrop. Towards the end of the six month biennial a two-day conference, Venice Biennale and the Arab World, was organized at University Ca’ Foscari on 19-20 October 2017, where historians, critics and artists discussed aspects of Modern to Contemporary Arab art, and its growing impact on the global art world. Writer – Janet Bellotto

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Photographs of Sheikh Zayed, The Empty Quarter, Dubai As its contribution to the celebration throughout the UAE of the Year of Zayed, Empty Quarter Gallery has assembled an exhibition of some finely selected photographs representing the life of the noble leader and father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, may Allah rest his soul in peace. An avid photographer himself, Sheikh Zayed was keen that his court appointed photographer Noor Ali Rashid, as well as others, recorded the transformation he led in the Emirates, from a lifecycle of subsistence and simple nomadism to the modern united nation which now occupies a forward-looking, gracious position amongst its fellow world states. Through this exhibition of photographs, The Empty Quarter celebrates the life of Sheikh Zayed as well as these tremendous developments in the UAE during his life. The Sheikh Zayed photo exhibition continues through May 19. The Empty Quarter, Sheikh Zayed with Falcon, Year:approx. 1970 Certain pairings shout out for comparison: The photographic sequences

From Barcelona to Abu Dhabi: Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi

Water By Body Heat (1972) and Agelo Ribe’s Six Possibilites of Occupying Space

In an innovative initiative to bridge the artistic worlds of Europe with those

(1973) with both Mohammed Kazem’s Tongue (1994) and Ebtisam Abulaziz’s

in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Art and Music Foundation (ADMAF) launched

Women’s Circle (2011) series. The cultural poetics of architectural spaces are

its 2018 Abu Dhabi Festival with a collaborative exhibition organized with

similarly addressed in both Cristian Inglesias’ Polytyptic (2011) and Alaa Idris’s

the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA): From Barcelona

Reem Dream (2015). The photographic skill of capturing daily life are similarly

to Abu Dhabi: Works from the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art

revealed in the sequences of Xavier Miserachs’ Barcelona White and Black (c.

(MACBA) in Dialogue with the Emirates. The ground-breaking exhibition

1964) and Ammar al Attar’s Visual Sketches from Visual Diaries (2010-2015)

display allowed viewers to compare and contrast the avant garde work

series. A revelatory discovery in the exhibition, known by few and rarely shown,

of 20 century artists working in Europe and the United States, with work

was Khalil Abdul Wahid’s video Wadi (2003). By attaching a camera to his brush,

created by three generations of established and emerging Emirati artists.

the video captures the hypnotic rhythm of his painting practice as his brush

What was particularly striking were the affinities between the conceptual

moves and meanders through and over the canvas surface. This is reminiscent

art movements as enacted in Europe and with conceptual art in the UAE.

of the iconic performance videos by Vito Acconci and Bruce Nauman also on

Although at times from different decades and distant continents, they both

view in the exhibition.


shared concerns and techniques that when viewed together generate a common resonance crossing time and space.

recording performative actions in Jordi Benito’s Transformation of Ice Into

Ammar Al Attar. Visual Sketches, from the Visual Diaries series, 2010–2015. Courtesy of the artist. FIN (2)

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Perpetual Movement: Rich Mix, london Part of AWAN Festival (Arab Women Artsits Now) Perpetual Movement considers the relationship between migration and memory in connection to the Arab world and its diaspora. Memories can be inherited, they can alter from generation to generation, becoming fragmented, creating gaps that need to be filled. The artists whose works comprise Perpetual Movement have roots in Egypt, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen and the UAE, yet they are based in Europe and North America as well as in the Middle East. Some of them have been born into the diaspora, others remain in the region, while others left their homeland due to other circumstances. They all illustrate this movement in their work in various ways, creating a rich, multilayered picture of young women from the region. The exhibition comprises the work of 7 emerging women artists with roots in the Arab region: Yumna Al-Arashi, Nada Elkalaawy, Shaikha Fahad Al Ketbi, Thana Faroq, Araz Farra, Nadia Gohar and Najd AlTaher. Curated by Lizzy Vartanian-Collier.

Ghaya, Shaikha Fahad Al Ketbi, archival pigment print (2016) Image courtesy of the artist.

ZFotoFest : Zeytinbur International Photography Festival, Istanbul Sama Alshaibi, Tammam Azzam and Rula Halawani are participating in Zeytinburnu International Photography Festival (ZFotoFest) in Istanbul Turkey. Organised by Zeytinburnu municipality, ZFotoFest is a nonprofit organisation that brings together photographers from different fields aiming to expand the limits of photographic narration. Through this edition’s theme, Oxygen, the festival aims to strengthen already existing public awareness on environmental issues through photography and film. – exploring concepts of ecological collapse, perishing nature, industrial waste, human helplessness at facing wars, and destruction caused by immigration and urbanisation. Rula Halawani’s Jerusalem Calling series gathers nighttime images of the city’s Rula Halawani, Untitled, Jerusalem Calling series (2015) archival print, edition of 5, 100 x 150 cm.

streets, to which the artist includes black and white projections of Jerusalem’s vibrant atmosphere recorded between 1936 and 1948. Mohammed Kazem, Soundless, Pastel on paper, 59 x 41 cm each existence encompassing the separation between the spirit and the body, essence and appearance. Yet the artists allow themselves to evolve in a ‘third’ reality that challenges the common idea of mutual exclusiveness of chance and determinism. The fissures that reveal the underlying abyss unveil a place that contains the time of becoming, and the manifestation of a continuum. Also a metaphysical space, these interstices allude to the most authentic form of life, the one of the ‘unconscious’

(Un)conscious: A series of small serendipities Gallery IVDE, Dubai UAE

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mind. Continuously seeping through reality, this unavoidable drive that inhabits us as a slide, a gap, a fold, a knot, or a swirl, constantly pulsates, comes and goes, opens and closes. The parenthesised

(Un)conscious: A series of small serendipities is a group exhibition in which five

prefix in the title of the exhibition in fact underlines the difficult negotiations

artists Abdelkader Benchamma, Vikram Divecha, Mohammed Kazem, Ahmad

between internal and external wanderings as well as the potentiality of chance

Amin Nazar and Hassan Sharif apprehend the irreconcilable dichotomy of

as artistic modus operandi.


Shadi Megallaa and Karim Sultan: Magnetic Fossils Around 9 pm on a rare rainy November night in Dubai, a small but intense crowd assembled at a hotel ballroom. It was the debut of MUTEK AE, an outcrop of Montreal’s critically acclaimed festival of electronic music and digital creativity. To the uninitiated, the event may have appeared like just another club night. But instead of bottle service and commercial sounds, this audience had come for something altogether less predictable: the festival’s opening act was an audio-visual performance by Shadi Megallaa, Analog Room resident DJ and founder of Dubai’s only independent record store, The Flip Side, and Karim Sultan, artist, musician and director of Sharjah’s Barjeel Art Foundation. As Megallaa hunched over his laptop and Sultan improvised on a Godin electro-oud, heavily distorted clips from Magnetic Fossils, a documentary about cassette tape culture in the UAE, filled a large screen overhead. Before long, a sparse, throbbing soundscape, punctuated by sci-fi quavers and laced

an oud, for example, oftentimes the ability to create

range of performances, workshops and a panel

narrative comes together. It’s something people

discussion adding to a core programme of live

do naturally. Suddenly, you feel there is a journey

performances. Jeff Mills, veteran trailblazer of

happening. Suddenly, it’s theatrical or filmic.’

Detroit techno, headlined alongside Dasha Rush, whose AV performance Sleepstep, with Stanislav

During the performance, some people in the

Glazow, was one of the festival’s other highlights.

audience sat down on the floor around the stage,

True to MUTEK’s commitment to fostering local

festival-style, as the room was taken over by a

talent, the line-up also featured artists from the

compelling, fundamentally ‘live’ moment that

UAE, such as Abri & the Dreamfleet, Nasrawi and

allowed a challenging creative process to unfold

Siamak Amidi. Magnetic Fossils was, however,

freely in front of an appreciative audience. In the

the only local AV performance, something Ansari

context of both electronic music and new media, this

hopes to build on for the next edition.

is still a rare thing to happen in this part of the world.

If Magnetic Fossils is anything to go by, one can For Mehdi Ansari, the man responsible for

only hope Ansari’s grit in pursuing his vision doesn’t

bringing MUTEK to the UAE, the Magnetic Fossils

wear off. Watching Megallaa and Sultan, two

performance was a personal highlight: ‘It’s the

leading lights of the local arts and independent

kind of ambient project that nobody really books

music scenes, join forces to elevate each other’s

in this city. The whole idea behind our audio-visual

creative practices felt like the beginning of

programming is to bring content that is new and

something new for Dubai. Writer - Lisa Reinisch,

hasn’t been played in many other places before.’

journalist and writer.

Dubai’s incarnation of MUTEK lived up to the

Shadi Megallaa and Karim Sultan Magnetic Fossils (2017) Live audio-visual performance Images courtesy of Karim Sultan, performance courtesy of Mutek AE.

mothership’s ethos on most fronts, with a diverse

with ethereal strains of the oud, swathed the space. For the artists, the documentary merely served as a point of departure for a wholly original, partimprovised performance. With laptops and a variety of devices, notably Megallaa’s Vermona Kick Lancet and a custom-made Jahtari Monotron siren, for instruments, they crafted a richly layered yet paredback sonic narrative. Megallaa: ‘The key with ambient music is to give every element room to breathe and shine. Only keep what you need. It’s the blanks between the notes that make the music what it is.’ Sultan applied a similar principle to the looping, monochrome visuals, for which he selected moments from the documentary that lent themselves to being watched on repeat, serving as a visual avenue for introspection. Through layers of distortion and paired with live electronica, mundane objects such as a ceiling fan, a set of speakers and a tape deck were imbued with a mesmerising visual rhythm. Sultan: ‘If you combine sparse visuals with a very simple piece of music, like the sound of a cello or

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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artists. Writer - Simone Salvo, writer and arts manager.

ADPP: The Arab Documentary Photography Program Building capacity through mentorship and creative exploration Over the past four years, the Arab Documentary

too cynical. We also thought of marriage as a duty.

Mentors often continue to work with grantees after

Photography Program (ADPP) has supported 38

After we stopped searching for ‘the one,’ that’s

the grant period, providing sounding boards for

artists and visual storytellers, with 19 women and 17

when we met each other.” They opt for a Saudi-style

exploring new ideas, connecting them with relevant

men, from 15 countries across the Arab region. They

American Gothic portrait in their unfinished swimming

experts and resources, and helping them think about

have come from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait,

pool in Jeddah.

how the work will function in the world. Through Red

Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia,

Hook Editions, a publishing community of which

Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. Viewed as an

ADPP encourages image makers to experiment with

van Agtmael is a part, grantee Zied Ben Romdhane

evolving collection, the stories produced through the

different ways of building a story, using the the term

is releasing his first book. His project West of Life

program lend perspectives that run counter to, or

‘documentary’ not as a style, but as a premise for

explores declining mining towns in the southwest

augment those prevalent in the mainstream media.

grounding projects in critical contemporary issues.

of Tunisia, using humour, intimacy and surrealism to

An example of this issue-based experimentation

create a thoughtful portrait of the region.

ADPP is a joint initiative between Magnum Foundation

is the work of multimedia artist Heba Khalifa, who

(MF), the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC),

collaborates with women she meets on Facebook.

In Zied Ben Romdhane’s series West of Life (2015),

and the Prince Claus Fund (PCF) to support and

Together in her home studio, they create mixed

a mine worker with a broken back in southwest

amplify creative approaches to visual storytelling

media environmental portraits about the anxieties,

Tunisia, a region for phosphate mining that is rich

that challenge conventional narratives about the

challenges, and pressures of being a woman in

in resources, is disenfranchised by the government.

Arab region.

Egyptian society. Over the course of their project development,

The program has opened up new ideas as well

The woman Heba Khalifa photographed in her series

grantees come together for two intensive workshops

as new opportunities for grantees to show their

Homemade (2015) said ‘I am a single mother. My

in Beirut, where they have the opportunity to

work. Tasneem Alsultan is currently exhibiting the

daughter and I are one. She is always with me. Any

connect in person with their mentors, program

project she produced as a grantee, Saudi Tales of

lover I might have, must love my daughter more

advisors (including Susan Meiselas), and most

Love, at East Wing in Dubai, which is on view until

than me. So, I cannot easily find a lover. My life is

significantly, each other. “In parts of the world where

March 12, 2018. Drawing on her own personal

overloaded. I work six days a week and am all over

creative communities face a host of challenges, the

narrative, she goes beyond the surface of elaborate

the place doing acrobatics to be able to provide a

connections the grantees make throughout the

wedding ceremonies to explore the complexities of

shelter for us.’

program provide an anchor. They support each

relationships and the nuance of the female experience so often oversimplified in stories about Saudi Arabia.

other and share ideas and resources,” says Emma For over six months, grantees receive production

Raynes, Director of Programs at MF.

support and one-to-one mentorship with

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In Tasneem Alsultan’s work from the series Saudi

photographers Randa Shaath, Eric Gottesman,

Most of the grantees are working in societies that

Tales of Love, Reneen, an art curator, and Hisham, a

Tanya Habjouqa, and Peter van Agtmael. All four of

have restrictive cultural norms and governments that

comedian and actor, were both previously married

the mentors have worked extensively in the Middle

hinder freedom of speech, so they are taking real

and divorced. Now married to each other, they realize

East, and Habjouqa and Shaath are from the region

risks in their work. Learning how to navigate that is

their mistakes. “We didn’t believe in love, and were

and based in East Jerusalem and Cairo, respectively.

one of the challenges that the program addresses.

Tasneem Alsultan, from the series Saudi Tales of Love.

In Mostafa Bassim’s series Revolution of the Mind (2016) a student, 23 years old

ADPP is mostly about process, and projects that come out of the program

says ‘In 2011, when I saw people moving in the streets asking for their rights, I

often become first chapters or the beginnings of longer explorations. “Being

started feeling like what’s happening with the revolution is the same as what’s

part of the program was a turning point for me personally and for the project,”

happening with me: my family is the regime, and I’m one of the angry young

says Nadia Bseiso, who is currently working on the second chapter of Infertile

Egyptians calling for their rights, so I started feeling like I should initiate my

Crescent in Jordan.

own personal revolution.’ In her series Infertile Crescent (2017) Nadia Bseiso’s photograph of hot springs in The ADPP community has become a safe place for exploration and

Jordan follows the route of the controversial 180 km water pipeline being built

experimentation, and has provided ongoing support and connectivity for

between Jordan, Palestine, and Israel, documenting the historic, environmental,

grantees. The program transcends geographies and political barriers within

and domestic sites that lay in its path.

the Middle East, which both enables and fosters creative cross-pollination. Habjouqa notes:

Oussama Rifahi, former director of AFAC says: ‘It is through the rich diversity of cultural expressions, the mobility of artists, and the advancement of artistic

Sometimes, the geopolitical situation in our region has stunted that growth. We

freedom that we stand the best chance to promote better understanding and

don’t always know each other. We don’t have the opportunity to brainstorm

transcend the difficult times we live today in our region.’

and be creative with people from Tunisia, from Palestine, et cetera. So, this brings everyone together and reinforces a potent Middle East, a vibrant middle

It is in this spirit that ADPP is paving the way for an expansive future for

ground for creativity.

photography, building capacity and amplifying those whose authorship is unevenly represented within the larger field.

Across the artworld, it’s most difficult to secure funding for the initial idea-phase of a project. ADPP attempts to curb any barriers for entry––you do not need a

ADPP is accepting applications through AFAC’s website until May 1, 2018.

fully realized portfolio or to have had professional training to be eligible. As such,

ADPP is advised by Susan Meiselas, Bertan Selim, and Emma Raynes, and

the program has become a hub for intensive, independent project development

coordinated by Jessica Murray. You can see more work from ADPP grantees

outside of rapid news cycles and competitive awards culture.

online at www.arabdocphotography.org.

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From top: Heba Khalifa, from the series Homemade (2015); Zied Ben Romdhane, from the series West of Life (2015)

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From top: Mostafa Bassim, from the series Revolution of the Mind (2016); Nadia Bseiso, from the series Infertile Crescent (2017)

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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artists. Writer - Janet Bellotto, artist, educator and writer.

Wild Moments Through the lens of Kuwaiti photographers The exhibition at Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) provided an introduction to the dilemmas and current mind set of photography in Kuwait—and building a discourse with the public. The photographers in the exhibition Wild Moments: Through the Lens of Kuwaiti Photographers—Dr. Mohammed Alkandari, Mohammed Khorshed, Majed Alzaabi and Maitham Almisry— pursue photography as a secondary career. For various exhibitions on the desert in Kuwait to trips to Africa, they spend hours shooting and waiting to capture the unexpected moment of the wild and potentially bringing home thousands of frames. CAP is attempting to create a discussion on how to educate the current photographer/ artist while engaging local academic institutions through exchanges as well as workshops. All the photographers have won a multitude of international awards, such as Alzaabi who provides workshops for HIPA in Dubai and is an Ambassador for Nikon and is very active on social media with over 50,000 subscribers on his Youtube channel (in Arabic). Alkandari’s series focuses on lions. My Queen, a lion and lioness stare in tandem directly in the lens of the camera. There is not only a feeling of vulnerability—due to the potential of standing in the spot of a prey—but also of one standing ground in anticipation of battle or conflict. Khorshed’s One Eye on You supports many of the other wild life eye-to-eye moments captured by these photographs. The results, capturing at times the unbelievable, provide a satisfaction of all the waiting moments. Anger, by Alzaabi, captures an elephant in a cloud of dust—the moment the animal tries to protect its skin from pesty insects. The various photographs in the exhibition capture emotion in the wild—where a viewer, in this instance, can relate to the boiling point of a situation and fog out the assailant. During the exhibition a symposium on Photography: the passion, challenge and dedication was organized with the artists and moderated by Ziyad AlArfaj at CAP. The exhibition ran from Follow the artists: @majedphotos @maitham_almisry @dr_m_alkandari

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Mohammed Khorshed, One Eye on You Archival Pigment print, 60 cm x 88 cm

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From top: Dr Mohammed Alkandari, My Queen Archival Pigment print, 108 cm x 158 cm; Majed Alzaabi, Anger Archival Pigment print, 60 cm x 88 cm

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Mohammed Khorshed, Cold Look Archival Pigment print, 60 cm x 88 cm

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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artists. Writer - Emma Warburton, arts writer and curator.

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture: Ten Years Later Addressing Realities in the Arab Region with Compelling Visual Stories A documentary photographer from Sudan exposes

events, and most recently, creative and critical

screenings – showcasing more than 40 artists from

the practice of skin bleaching and the pressure put

writings. The jury committee said ‘The pool of

15 Arab countries whose projects were supported by

on women to live up to a certain notion of beauty.

applicants actively seeks to document some of the

AFAC. It was a celebration of creativity, innovation,

In the process, he unravels issues of identity. In a

most urgent issues in the Arab world with their unique

boldness, risk-taking, questioning, critical thinking and

series of stunning pictures, a Yemeni photographer

artistic voice. ADPP invests in the personal journeys

dialogue that are the main pillars of the works of artists

documents her attachment to a protected lagoon

of these individual photographers through a program

and cultural practitioners that AFAC supports. It was

and contests the harassment she is subjected to by

where each of them can evolve their artistic practice.’

a tribute to the fresh narratives or counter-narratives

the greed of another tribe. With tact and lucidity, a

that are coming out of the region – over 1000 projects

young photographer reflects the dignity and pride of

The importance of ADPP is its long-term vision to

in ten years - through the works of photographers,

thousands of mine workers in Morocco who decided

develop a network of authentic and diverse local

musicians, writers, visual and performing artists.

to continue working in their mines illegally and in

photographers and to stimulate

inhumane conditions following the closure of coal

dialogue with photographers

mines, rather than abandon their land and community.

from within and outside the region. AFAC responds with

Such photo stories are examples of a range of non-

tailored programs to stimulate

fiction narrative styles, from classical documentary

underdeveloped art forms in the

photography to more experimental visual storytelling

Arab region; be it documentary

that the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture – AFAC jointly

photography, documentary film

with Prince Claus Fund have been supporting since

or novel writing. Similar to the

2014, and in partnership with Magnum Foundation.

impetus given to documentary

The Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP)

photography, in 2018, AFAC seeks

was launched in 2014 to address the huge gap in

to spur practitioners on creative

this genre. AFAC with its partners set out to raise the

and critical writings, research

level of creative documentary photography, to train

on arts and culture, as well as

photographers and expand their approaches to visual

entrepreneurial good practices

storytelling, and to share strong visual narratives from

for cultural institutions.

the Arab region both regionally and internationally.

AFAC recently celebrated its

ADPP encompasses not only a grant but also training

tenth anniversary with a two-

and one-on-one mentorship to accompany the

week long program in Beit Beirut

photographers in articulating their photo story.

and Metropolis Empire Sofil. The exhibition honored documentary

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AFAC current grant programs are performing

photography, but also sound and

arts, visual arts, music, cinema, documentary film,

video installations, dance and

documentary photography, training and regional

music performance, talks, and film

Previous page: Muhammad Salah, I want to be visible

Top: Amira Al-Sharif from the series A Love Song to Socotra Island Detwah lagoon, Socotra, Yemen (2014). Sadiya sits on an eroded metal fish cage, that she would use when she was young to catch fish. ‘This is my metal basket for fishing, what remain is just its structure, now it is just a memory. The fishermen wanted to take it out of the sea, but I prevented them, leave it there; at least we can sit on it in the sea, it is like a marker in the sea, if you put something under it, you know where to find it, and you also can hide the seashells, then you can bring them any time, better than going through the whole sea and not find any

Left: Amira Al-Sharif from the series A Love Song to Socotra Island Detwah lagoon, Socotra, Yemen (2014) Sadiya holds a black sea creature in the coral reef. Sadiya said that Chinese tourists see this creature as a medicine.

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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artist Writer - Valerie Behiery Ph.D, arts writer.

Arwa Abouon: The Distilled Image Reflections on emotions in humanity and the magic of the image Arwa Abouon possesses a singular appeal for

Middle Eastern or Western contemporary

inner dialogue between Abouon and her ‘self’,

anyone looking to distinguish signal from noise

visual culture reveals the work’s radicality.

yet also, through its surrealistic aspect, posits

in the oceans of images flooding our post-

While knowing that I’m Sorry/I Forgive You

visuality as encompassing both the physical and

literate world. Most images try to sell something

showcases Abouon’s parents and relates to the

metaphysical worlds. The title and scene’s allusion

or shape attitudes for political gain, and thus

painful experience of her father’s terminal cancer

to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, provides a

obscure the poetic alphabet of visuality and

certainly provides additional meaning, it is not

Western reference with an funny twist to recast

its vital role in the production of subjectivity

critical to the work’s appreciation. Forgiveness

definitions of beauty.

and knowledge. The deep awareness of the

and love are universal themes

positive potentiality of pictures characterizing

Abouon’s recurring use of humor to address

Abouon’s work originates in her childhood.

I’m Sorry/I Forgive You combines planar and

both spiritual and cultural issues allows the

For the Libyan-Amazigh artist who grew up in

perspectival space. Silent Sight 1 (Allahu Akbar)

work’s translation across cultures. The Allah

Canada, the family photo album formed the

and Silent Sight 2 (Duaa) (2012), however, push

Eye Doctor Chart (2007), a light box carrying

sole link to her forebears and original homeland.

the boundaries of representation by referencing

the words Allah and alhamdulillah printed in

Experiencing the faded pictures of unknown

two other senses in addition to vision, touch

various sizes, recasts, in contemporary materials

places and people as a threshold to a mysterious

and hearing. The black-and-white photographs

and idioms, the ophthalmologist’s chart that

world she longed to learn about cemented in

are close-ups of Abouon’s father’s face. In one

measures eyesight and perhaps, Islamic mystical

the artist, early on, the notion that images are

photograph, his hands are delicately cupped

cosmological diagrams, to question the link

both magical objects and vectors of knowledge.

around his ears, while, in the other, they shield

between physiological and spiritual vision.

the lower half of his face. Abouon’s father’s hand Abouon’s work explores her cultural and religious

gestures recall parts of the Muslim prayer cycle,

Aware that images alleviate the loss of identity

identities. While rooted in autobiography, it is

yet the images are transcultural. The overall

and belonging caused by cultural displacement,

never self-indulgent because the scenes and

impression is one of intense meditation; the

Abouon’s works re-enact –publicly and visually—,

images are consistently distilled into their wider,

father’s closed eyes denote inner vision, a realm

cultural, religious and familial genealogies that

underlying themes. I’m Sorry/I Forgive You

of experience located beyond the confines of

will not be lost. The artist’s focus has now turned

(2012), a colour photographic diptych, shows

the image. The two canvases shown alongside

to the new generations of Abouons. The triptych

an elderly couple in profile from the torso up. In

the photographs, featuring a single word in

Aqiqah Series: A Prayer then Something Sweet/

the image on the left, the man kisses the woman

brail, Allah and Muhammad, further probe the

A Prayer IS Something Sweet (2017) displays her

on the forehead; in that on the right, a reverse

relationship between touch and sight.

nephew Rayan wearing a kufi cap and enjoying a

mirror image, the woman kisses the man’s

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lollipop. Abouon explains its link to the realization

forehead. Islamic geometrical patterns overlay

Abouon appears in her own work as in Mirror,

that she now has to be a cultural mediator for

the whole image, except for the couple’s faces

Mirror/Allah, Allah (2012) that broaches the issue

him as her parents had been for her: ‘As I pass

and hands, further highlighting their humanity

of the visibility or invisibility of religion as well

on the traditions of my religion to my nephews,

and love. That images of Muslims expressing

as plural identity through the memes of veiling

I sympathize with their own struggle of having to

affection are practically non-existent in either

and mismatched reflections. The work images an

mediate between two separate cultures.’

Top diptych: I’m Sorry / I Forgive You from the series Learning by Heart (2012) digital print 76.2 x 101.6 cm; Bottom diptych: Silent Sight 1 (Allahu Akbar) (2012) digital print, 50.8 x 50.8 cm, Silent Sight 2 (Duaa) (2012) digital print, 50.8 x 50.8 cm

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From top: Mirror, Mirror/Allah, Allah (Diptych) (2012) digital print, 101.6 x 101.6 cm (each); Allah Eye Doctor Chart (2007) digital print on duratrans, 122 x 81 cm

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Aqiqah Series: A Prayer Then Something Sweet/ A Prayer IS Something Sweet (triptych), 2017 digital print, 101 x 101 cm

Experiencing the faded pictures of unknown places and people as a threshold to a mysterious world she longed to learn about cemented in the artist, early on, the notion that images are both magical objects and vectors of knowledge.

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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Anna Seaman, independent arts writer.

Basma Al Sharif: Violence in Photography The politics of an image As a Palestinian who has lived her entire life outside

with Art Dubai.1 ‘I don’t agree with the fact that just

the borders of her nation, Basma Al Sharif’s life (like

because you are a white man with a camera and

so many others from the Occupied Territories) is

privilege, you can take pictures of whatever you want.

one punctuated with violence. Her artistic practice

It’s also about the dark histories in the Arab world’s

however, is not tackling the issue of violence head

past of participating in the slave trade and how we

on, rather investigating how it has seeped into our

live with the ghosts of these pasts in the present.’

corners and walls and even inhabits the dust. In short, how it has become part of the furniture.

Despite being made in 2016, Trompe l’Oeil is still acutely relevant today. The title, from the French term

In Trompe l’Oeil, Al Sharif presents photographs

to deceive the eye, refers to paintings or artworks

in a domestic space. Inside the 80-square-metre

made to form an illusion. Al Sharif uses it to question

carpeted installation a chaise longue sofa, with some

how we decipher the information inside a photograph

battered board games beneath it is placed in front of

and the way it is presented.

two mural sized vinyl stickers that the artist describes as still life images.

‘I began to understand that the same photograph could carry two or more very different meanings

We become satisfied by a well composed image, no matter what its content, and once we are satisfied, we are apathetic

‘Each space has been artificially lit and the objects,

based on culture, context, or when it was being

like a mise-en-scène, are all slightly overly staged—all

seen,” she explains. ‘In one site the photograph

a bit un-natural,’ says Al Sharif. With the installation,

was a way of deriving information about an event,

exhibited at Art Dubai 2018 for Al Sharif’s presentation

in another it was propaganda, in a third, it was a

‘In Trompe l’Oeil, that exploration is translated into

as one of four winners of this year’s Abraaj Group Art

vulgar display of violence or crime, in yet another

an experience. I was interested in exploring how that

Prize, the artist is asking what a photograph is able

it was evidence of a crime. So, I see that there is a

experience of apathy through violent images could

to communicate, what are the ethics of reproduction

lot of violence in photography, a kind of destructive

be embodied, could be felt rather than understood

and also, the ever-more relevant issue of ownership.

strength of emotion.’

as a theoretical idea. What does it mean to try to

Inside the set, Al Sharif has illegally reproduced

Here she pays tribute to Susan Sontag’s theories

representation? What does it mean to create these

one of T.E. Lawrence’s (Lawrence of Arabia) images

regarding the way we become inured to violence

images and then store them in libraries for decades,

that was not free of its copyrights and belongs to

and cruelty through the distance of the medium of

centuries even? Who owns these images? and why

the Imperial War Museum as well as 39 variously

photography as well as being saturated by images

do we keep them?’

sized images sourced without copyright from the

of a violent nature and removed from the reality of

British Library’s archive.

them. Al Sharif says we become satisfied by a well

Whilst Trompe l’Oeil leaves the viewer with more

composed image, no matter what its content, and

questions than answers it forces the audience to

‘This work is about who has the right to make and

once we are satisfied, we are apathetic.

rethink their perspectives, which ultimately can help

reproduce images,’ Al Sharif explained in an interview

1 http://www.artdubai.ae/blog/qa-with-basma-alsharif/

them understand the world.

understand history, conflict, race, religion through

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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of The Karimeh Abbud Photography Award Exhibition at Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Palestine. Writer - Mahasen Nasser-Eldin, documentary filmmaker and lecturer.

The Karimeh Abbud Photography Award Celebrating a pioneer woman photographer of early 20th century Palestine The Karimeh Abbud Photography Award was

importance of arts and culture in shaping society’s

established in 2016 by Dar al-Kalima University

values as well as its role in creating a language

College of Arts and Culture (DAK) in Bethlehem,

of communication locally and worldwide. In the

Palestine to celebrate the legacy of Karimeh Abbud

past two years, news of the Karimeh Abbud

(1893-1940) while also revealing her contribution

Photography Award has reached Palestinians in

to the cultural life of pre-1948 Nakba Palestine.

historical Palestine, Gaza, Jerusalem, the West

Karimeh Abbud was the first Palestinian woman

Bank as well as those in the Palestinian diaspora.

photographer to pursue a career in photography

The question of how we reclaim and restore

including experimental, abstract, conceptual and

our past for future generations is at the heart

documentary. It brought together artwork of artists

Art and cultural productions allow us to explore the connectivities and relationship between the past and the present.

of the Karimeh Abbud Photography Award. Art

from Gaza, historical Palestine, Jerusalem and the

spectrum of works that explored the theme of

and cultural productions allow us to explore the

West Bank. Working with subjects of space, time,

‘place’ through documentary, conceptual and

connectivities and relationships between the past

feminism, materialism and questioning notions of

surreal photography. The exhibition explored how

and the present. The Karimeh Abbud Photography

the local and the personal, the artists took their

our concept of ‘place’- or space is continuously

Award is an endeavor to restore the past while

audience on a journey through the various realms

changing with time and our interpretation of it is

juxtaposing it with the present. This award is

and realities of Palestine today.

also varies, based on the realities and contexts we

during the first half of the 20th century. She opened

In the first year of this initiative, the award

her own studios in Haifa and Nazareth, capturing

focused on the theme of ‘Humans from Palestine,’

with her camera early modern Palestinian life and

showcasing 30 photographs taken by Palestinian

families. She traveled across the county as well as

artists who employed a diverse approach in

to neighboring countries, creating photographs that

storytelling and used different media to create

are essential for the documentation of Palestinian

expressions about society and life in current day

visual history and narrative.

Palestine. The artworks presented in the 2016 exhibition included various types of photography,

organized in conjunction with an exhibition that

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live in. Each photograph had its own story that

showcases the nominated photographs for the

In its second year, the Karimeh Abbud

engaged the Award’s theme. The photographs

award. The overall objective of the Karimeh

Photography Award Exhibition explored the

narrated the relationship between the persons

Abbud Photography Award and Exhibition is to

theme of ‘place’(al-makan) and its meaning for us

exposed in the photographs and the places

ensure that the name of Karimeh Abbud, as well

today. This theme was present in the photographs

-space- they occupied.

as her heritage, remains resonant in contemporary

of Karimeh Abbud as she documented the

Palestinian society as well as to simultaneously

various urban and rural landscapes in pre-1948

The first and second editions of the Karimeh

support the talents and skills of young Palestinian

Palestine. Her photographs exposed the rich

Abbud Photography Award and Exhibition have

photographers. This award and exhibition is a

Palestinian cultural life in rural as well as modern

been made possible through the generous support

corner stone of DAK’s vision to highlight the

urban space. The 2017 exhibition showcased a

of the Bank of Palestine Felestineya program.

From top: Nihaya al-Haj, Invisible Eyes (2016); May Herbawi, Untitled (2016)

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From top: Lana Hijazi, The massacre of dreams (2017); Mahmoud al-Kurd, The most beautiful memories are those of a place (2017)

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From top: Zenab Odeh, Our existence grants us our freedom (2017); Waseem Ali, Selfie (2017)

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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery and Galleria Continua. Writer - Dr. Shiva Balaghi, scholar and curator.

Moataz Nasr: Cairo Walk The moments that make up the life of the city For the past thirty years, the artist Moataz Nasr

with an advertisement is peeling away. The city

has been taking regular walks through Old Cairo.

is deeply embedded in Nasr’s way of life and by

Some Friday mornings, he joins an informal group

extension his art.

of scholars, writers, artists and journalists who meet at a downtown café for a walking tour of the old

‘Cairo,’ he tells me, ‘is a city of contradictions.

neighborhoods. I ask Lee Keath, a journalist for the

Everything is yes, and everything is no. Everything

Associated Press, who is a regular at these walks to

is rejected, and everything is accepted.’ But Nasr

describe what they entail. ‘It’s a lot of noticing of

takes what Cairo offers and translates it into a

details, like an Art Deco flourish on a façade or a

universal visual language. ‘I am an artist from Egypt,

door; how something newer has been built in and

rather than an Egyptian artist,’ he explains. ‘That

round something ancient; how people are using

is an important distinction. The whole world is my

and reusing old things,’ Keath explained. ‘It’s an

village. Travel connects me to many places. First and

extremely layered urban landscape.’

foremost, I am an artist.’

This sensibility, this attention to the shifting urban landscape of Cairo, is threaded throughout Nasr’s body of work. ‘In my art,’ he tells me, ‘you can see how much I love this city, how much I want to learn about it.’ Speaking with the curator and critic Hou Hanru in Rome in 2014, Nasr explained, ‘It wasn’t only about visiting museums or art scenes. If you are talking about my personal history, art is in everything around me. I was fascinated by the ancient Egyptian monuments that were everywhere; they were spread around the city the way billboards are now. The weather, the greenery, the Nile and even the people… were all very influential.’ In an ongoing photographic series, Cairo Walk, Nasr captures moments and details that make up the life of the city. The everyday mingles with the extraordinary; ancient architectural details mix with bright colored wares in the bazaar; light filters through the mashrabiya; a stucco wall painted

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It’s a lot of noticing of details, like an Art Deco flourish on a façade or a door; how something newer has been built in and around something ancient

Cairo walk (2006-2013) a selection from 81 C-prints, 40 x 40 cm

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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Lizzy Vartanian, Collier arts writer and curator.

Ourouba: The Eye of Lebanon Bringing collections with a pulse into view In the center of this year’s edition of the Beirut

political realities they face,’ says Issa. And, while

been altered in unfamiliar styles, with neck

Art Fair lay an exhibition that placed an emphasis

the curator makes no explicit comments about

openings appearing around the navel, and

on contemporary art owned by Lebanon’s most

the individual intentions of each work, images

overly shortened jackets. ‘So what does the

celebrated art collectors. Amongst paintings,

likes Rabih Mroué’s Leap into the Void (AKA The

exhibition say?’ asks Issa, ‘By showing how it is

sculpture and installations was an impressive array

Pixelated Revolution)(2011), from the Yola Noujaim

possible to bring humour and beauty in the daily

of photographic and video works by artists such

Collection, that shows a man jumping from a great

bombardment of aggression and negative news.’

as Ziad Antar, Raeda Saadeh and Ahmed Mater.

height with his arms in the air into a crowd of

A somewhat lighter work plays on a three-minute

people, speak a thousand words.

loop in Adel Abidin’s Consumption of War (2011),

Organized by renowned curator Rose Issa, Accompanying the photographs, a number

fighting with what looks like light-sabers from out

focused on contemporary art from the Middle

of video works from private collections made

of a Star Wars movie.

East that was not only made by artists from

powerful statements within the exhibition. Sharif

and working in the region, but on works that

Waked’s Chic Point. Fashion for Israel Checkpoints

Another theme that ran through the exhibition

are held within collections in Lebanon. In fact,

(2003) shows men modeling garments that have

was that of construction. Somewhat apt in the

through the process of visiting the collectors who own these works, Issa discovered artists that she had previously not known about: ‘These collections, mostly held in storage, kept distant and isolated from the centers, have attracted few local visitors.’ The visits brought to light works by artists such as Nadim Asfar, whose presence in the exhibition comes in the form of Temple de Ain Hersha, Jabal El Cheikh 2, from the Hubert Fattal Collection. In the large inkjet print, a warm orange landmass can be seen in the horizon, behind a rocky, ambiguous foreground. Much of the work on display had political undertones. Raeda Saadeh’s Angel, 2003 and Moving, 2003, both from the El-Nimer Collection, depict a woman tugging at destructed buildings, covered in barbed wire with ropes. ‘The works [in the exhibition] reflect the pulse of the region and the artists’ and collectors’ engagement with the

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showing two men dressed in suits in an office

the exhibition Ourouba: The Eye of Lebanon

Top left: Adel Abidin, Consumption of War (2011) One channel video installation, 00’03’20 min. Loop Top right: Nadim Asfar, Temple de Ain Hersha, Jabal El Cheikh 2 (2011) 87 x 120 cm, Collection Hubert Fattal, Courtesy of the Artist

Above: The Atlas Group, We decided to let them say we are convinced twice, City I (2005) 10 x 171 cm Yola Noujaim Collection, Courtesy of the artist and Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut/Hamburg Left: Randa Mirza, Remaking the city (2011) Pigment ink on photo paper 179 x 90cm Collection Solidere, Courtesy of Galerie Tanit, Beirut Previous page: Sharif Waked, Chic Point. Fashion for Israeli Checkpoints (2003) Video, 07 min. Private collection, Courtesy of the Artist

midst of an art fair held in a Beirut that is actively rebuilding itself. This can be seen most explicitly in Ahmed Mater’s Untitled I, 2012 from the Ramzi & Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation Collection, in which an aerial photograph shows cranes building what appears to be a stadium. A look at what is being left behind in favour of new buildings is captured in Ziad Antar’s Cote d’Azur, 2007, from his Beirut Bereft series and found in the Laurence and Tarek Nahas Collection. The hazy blue photograph shows a line of palm trees standing in front demolished buildings along the Beirut coast. The photographic and video works in Ourouba provided another story to a multilayered glimpse into the contemporary art collections of Lebanon. ‘These artists forge the region’s saving grace, redemption in history and art,’ says Issa, ‘in chaos we discover what endures. And in darkness we find some glow of light.’

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REVIEW Images - Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Writer - Danna Lorch, independent arts and culture writer.

The Persistent Relevance of She Who Tells a Story A Kaleidoscopic view of the Arab region’s diversity The first thing to notice in Tanya Habjouqa’s

at The American University in Cairo, and Paris. She

artists than were ultimately included, focusing on

untitled photograph is the boundless sea. Yet

observed that with few caveats, ‘The strongest

quality of photographs as much as presenting a

the horizon is dishonest. This is Gaza and there

work that I found was being done by women. I

‘kaleidoscopic view’ of the region’s diversity, both

are heavily patrolled borders—one can only go

couldn’t speculate on the reason behind that.’ She

culturally and artistically.

so far. A family picnics in generic plastic chairs,

did add, ‘I wouldn’t want to exclude the possibility

tailgating from a busted-up yellow car. The

that there are strong male photographers as well.’

She was clear, ‘Having lived in the Middle East, I

contrast between a leisurely afternoon’s reality

Once the MFA approved the exhibition, Gresh blew

wanted to veer away from buying into myths of

and the rocket-riddled traces of Gaza that normally

through her travel budget to meet many more

any sort, so my text panel starts off by saying, far

reach Western audiences is jarring. The image is one of 100 included in She Who Tells a Story, an exhibition presenting work by 12 contemporary female photographers from (or with roots in) the Arab world and Iran. Although the show first ran at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in 2013, it has continued to traverse North American institutions largely unchanged, and is now in its fifth iteration at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. As a group, the artists range from photojournalists and documentarians to proven names in blue chip galleries. These include Lalla Essaydi, Boushra Almutawakel, Rania Matar, Shirin Neshat, Newsha Tavakolian, Shadi Ghadirian, Gohar Dashti, Rana El Nemr, Tanya Habjouqa, Rula Halawani, Nermine Hammam and Jannane Al-Ani. And what is the story behind the woman who offered 12 others the platform to share theirs? Kristen Gresh, Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the force behind the exhibition, began to follow artists from the region during long expat stints in Cairo, where she served as Curator of Photographs at the Rare Books and Special Collections Library

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Below: Jananne Al-Ani, Shadow Sites II (2011) Single-channel digital video, black and white, with sound. Jointly owned by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art—Linde Purchase Fund for Contemporary Art, Salke Family Endowment Fund for Contemporary Art, Michael D. Wolk Fund for New Media, and Edward Linde Fund

Far left: Rana El Nemr, Metro #7 (2003) Archival pigment print Museum purchase with general funds and the Abbott Lawrence Fund Lower left: Tanya Habjouqa, Untitled, from the series Women of Gaza (2009) Archival pigment print . Museum purchase with general funds and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund for Photography Center: Rania Matar, Alia, Beirut, Lebanon (2010) Archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist and Carroll and Sons, Boston

removed from the tales of Scheherazade, these are contemporary narratives by contemporary women.’ While the veil, the ultimate object in any Orientalist script, appears frequently, the notion of art that examines its presence (or absence) is framed as almost retro, with Shirin Neshat in particular positioned as paving the way for younger artists like Newsha Tavakolian to disregard it entirely, moving on to other topics. In Tavakolian’s case this is Iran’s ban on female soloists’ voices being heard in public or on recordings. The Listen series is dominated by six large-format portraits of Iranian songstresses’ faces frozen mid-note. The Canadian War Museum may seem a strange venue for a show bent on dispelling conflict-saturated fantasies of daily life in the region. However, the location is more timely than ever in a prejudiced era where Canada is seen as one of few welcoming homes to immigrants and refugees from the region.

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IN CONVERSATION Images - Courtesy of the artist.

Manal AlDowayan in Conversation with Eman Ali Complexities of cultural critique My first encounter with Eman Ali’s dark and luminous

if we talk about bridal beauty. *My photograph Self-

photographs happened last year in London, during

portrait as Khaleeji Bride would be a good reference

the Royal College of Art graduate exhibition. Her

here. Gender in this instance becomes unreadable,

photographs were hung in a dark and dimly lit room,

as the surface beneath the layers of paint cannot

the low ceiling and lifted floor created an intimate

be seen. It’s strange to observe how, rather than

and cave-like space with glossy images hung at

increasing the effect of the real, this insidiously

eye level all around the room. In her collection, Her

undoes producing a fiction before our eyes, an

Holeyness, Eman fluidly moved between the

image so bizarre it becomes uncanny. Woman as

sarcastic play on words and the seriousness of the

impossible being.

commercialisation of female chastity. Eman, half Omani and half Bahraini, comes from two countries

MD: In your project Her Holeyness, you focus on the

with a strong contemporary photography scene, with

surface of things, more specifically the idea of clean

artists like Hassan Meer, Ghada Khunji and Waheeda

femininity. With such an intimate topic, how can the

Malullah. Although, I find that her subject matter is

surface lead to depth in your subject?

not bound to her regional context at all. Still as an Arab artist, she is compelled to work with a mindset

EA: Beauty products appeal to the fantasy of

that is alert to the complexity of cultural critique, but

changing one’s body. I use this fact to build a picture

it is especially tricky when attempting to gender the

of the female body as a commodity, a set of surfaces

critique. Through her photography, Eman is forging

to be maintained, manipulated and represented. I

a new conversation about gender assumptions in

am heavily inspired by the excess of color in 1980s

media and the society that consumes this media.

advertising and choose to work with a vivid colour palette in order to reproduce the standard of colour

Manal AlDowayan: You describe your practice

advertising to accentuate its artificiality and eroticism.

that capture physical places. How important is the

as an ‘exploration of the performance of gender

In Arab Muslim societies, I consider there to be

seen compared to the unseen in your artworks?

in Arabic culture’, How do you think gender is

strong religious and consumerist ideologies that act

being performed today? How do you capture this

as influencing factors in the idolising of female purity.

EA: In this project I experienced these monumental

performance in your works?

This creates a lens in which the marketing of beauty

buildings in Oman as beautiful physical spaces

products can be viewed as an extension of religion

that exist in the realm of reality but somehow

Eman Ali: I have witnessed the immaculate

and a purveyor of, in some sense, ultimate values.

feel simulated. I wanted to convey this feeling of

performance of femininity first hand growing up in

Innocence, purity and the desire for wholeness.

the artificial through the intensity of color in my

the khaleej. The women around me were queens in

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Through her photography, Eman is forging a new conversation about gender assumptions in media and the society that consumes this media.

photographs and I considered the materiality of

the art of seduction, skilled in the game of illusion.

MD: You continue to explore the surface of things in

the paper on which I printed on carefully, a reflective

An exquisite masquerade that gave way to the

your project Corridors of Power this time addressing

metallic option with a plastic feel, to further enhance

possibility of excess, even verging on the extreme

the idea of “non-places” in a series of photographs

the sense that these public spaces were somehow

Self-portrait as Khaleeji Bride (2016) C-type Fuji Gloss print, 110 x 76 cm

illusory. My intention behind this body of work is to leave space for the viewer

EA: These are just two examples from a larger collection of re-appropriated

to ask themselves: how to make this fit together, these bodies, these buildings

texts where the tone oscillates between being playful and instructive. My

and what they stand for? And how to shape the future? What is important for me

interest here lies in how transformation is brought about through manipulation.

is not to tell you how to read the images, but ask: What do you see reflecting

I find that context can be very interesting to play with and that by pulling my

back at you through the glossy surface?

references out of the luxury department store and putting it into the gallery, the language off the packaging changes and becomes something foreign.

MD: You present your photographs in strictly constructed spaces. You use

In an absurd reimagining of the region, my presentation playfully uses the

lighting, the colours of the walls, and framing to feed into the final work. Can

visual languages of advertising and tourism and transposes them on the

you tell me about your stylistic choices when presenting your photographs

female body itself.

and how important is the environment surrounding the framed image to you? MD: Finally can you tell me what has your attention these days? What makes EA: I think of the interior and/or exterior architecture of a space as a frame and

you want to make art?

stage for my works and how I transform it serves to contextualise what I display. EA: Mountains. I plan to spend a considerable amount of time on nature’s MD: In your works Tighty Tight and Daily Freshness, you re-appropriate texts

most exquisite features working on something mystical. What I enjoy is

used in advertising campaigns describing feminine products. Why did you

engaging in a series of poetic actions and working with this flow to unravel

separate the text from the imagery of the advertisement?Â

something interesting.

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From the series Corridors of Power (2015) C-type Kodak Metallic print, 110 x 76 cm

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From the series Her Holeyness (2017) C-type Kodak Metallic print, 59.4 x 84.1 cm

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IN CONVERSATION Images - Courtesy of the artists.

Kayfa-ta Independant Publishing Initiative A Conversation Between Ala Younis and Maha Mamoun In 2012, artists Maha Maamoun and Ala Younis

environment we live in and through. So in a sense

co-founded Kay-fa ta, an independent publishing

both kinds of work complete each other, one

initiative that uses the popular form of how-to

focusses on my individual practice, the other on

manuals (how=kayfa, to=ta) to respond to some of

the ground we stand on.

today’s perceived needs; be they the development of skills, tools, thoughts, or sensibilities. These

Ala Younis: My work is meant to be a preparation

monographic books situate themselves in the

(as small as a one step ahead) towards the future.

space between the technical and the reflective, the everyday and the speculative, the instructional

I understand we stand on shakey grounds and see

and the intuitive, the factual and the fictional.

knowledge lives longer and could move people faster towards knowing how to deal with critical

Tribe asked them to answer the questions they

situations. I have learnt so much from other artist’s

would pose to themselves as they attempt to plan

research related to the area, and think, despite

and situate the future processes of their project.

the commercial aspect of art production and its acquisition, I want more space for such potential

Why do I produce what I produce?


Maha Mamoun: In general, I do what I do in order to be able to live. It’s how I process and engage

Who do I address in the first place - myself or

with the world.

others - and why?

Its my mode of personal engagement and

AY: I feel I address time; not a particular person/

or maybe any work in general, addresses both

processing. Finding threads of interest, looking

community, not myself though in a way it starts

oneself and others. I think starting off from oneself,

at patterns of thought/cultural production that

and ends at myself. I feel my work makes me speak

as opposed to setting out to address others, stands

shape our world and that resonate or intrigue

to and in the name of the makers. I also think I

a better chance of being sincere and strong.

me at a certain moment is how I chose to go

produce for the public domain, even when I know

about. It’s my form of thinking through the world.

the material is not necessarily of interest to the

Who does my work speak to and in what circles

It often starts from an ambiguous emotional/

general public, the mere possibility of this being

does it circulate? Contemporary art circles and

conceptual space that shifts from one project to

of value to someone (even if in the non present

audiences, other?

the other and often only becomes clear to me in

time) makes me put it out. Also, sometimes, I feel

MM: I do not know really who my work

its real intent in retrospect when the work is done.

I am speaking to and about Arabs, though not all

“speaks to” in the sense of who feels and is

Collective work that I have engaged in so far

or any Arabs.

affected by it. But clearly it circulates in the

whether with you or CiC for example has been

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These monographic books situate themselves in the space between the technical and the reflective, the everyday and the speculative, the instructional and the intuitive, the factual and the fictional.

more or less closed contemporary art circles.

similar to the above motive of survival in the sense

MM: One is not separate from others. We develop

Maybe these circles are the most suited for the

of creating better terms of existence for oneself

in relation to each other and in response to one

reception and circulation of my work. Though

and one’s field, in an attempt to shape the cultural

another. And so, a work that is sensitive and strong,

I would prefer of course if the contemporary

Kay-fa ta Publications

art circles were more open and engaging to a wider audience.

Ala Younis

AY: So far, and mostly, my work is received by contemporary art networks.

Hanging Gardens is an growing set of photographs and texts that are attempts to

Do I invest in a relationship with the local audience? I hope/feel Kay-

prepare the ground for a future garden. They are collected from public gardens,

fata helps here. I also sometimes use the space of my work in a foreign

or personal gardens that exist in the public space like in front of someone’s house,

language as a refuge or a shield from unwanted (local) intervention.

and from statements produced by others, who happen to share the same fondness for certain elements from these gardens.

What subjects, gaps, issues, emotions, ideas (kayfa ta lingo) do I want to touch in this collective work?

Maha Maamoun

AY: I seek to understand what knowledge can relate or allow to deal with

The Subduer was born out of a regular visit to one of the many public notary

the current and coming times. I want to commission the production of this

offices in Egypt. In these offices, citizens, state functionaries and legal/bureaucratic

knowledge. And I want to unpack the permissions and relationships that

processes strain on a daily basis to continue functioning with and against each

allow our work.

other. In the midst of these tense relationships, or maybe because of them, prayers abound. A slew of soiled and aging sheets of paper, informally pinned or taped

MM: For me, Kayfa ta was a response to a clear shift in the values and needs

on the walls, appear on the walls of these offices.

of our time. 2011 saw the expression of the depth and breadth of this real and desired shift. One aspect that relates to this publishing project, was our

Calling on our higher selves, our finer temperaments, our sense of forgiveness,

experiencing, during the difficult years of 2011 onwards, of the ethical and

and reminding us of the brevity of this material world, these prayers project a

political fall of figures and writers one believed in before. And the rise of new

parallel or supplementary world-view to the highly regulated material world

voices whose political, ethical and intellectual positions were much worthy of

of these offices.

respect and much more attuned to the real needs and desired values of our time. It is those individuals whom Kayfa-ta wishes to give a platform to. We

Following this paper-trail, Maamoun visited many public notary offices across

commission artists, writers, theorists...etc whose language and thought we

Cairo to surreptitiously record the appearance of these prayers with the camera

believe is pertinent and valuable. And we ask them to point the readers to what

of her mobile phone. A photographic installation is accompanied by a publication

they believe are the pressing ‘subjects, gaps, issues, emotions, ideas..’ of our time

that reflects on these prayers and their context.

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Top: Ala Younis, Image #1 and (below) #2, Streets covered by their own trees.Gardens with grounds touched by the sun. I bought two mango trees from Cairo flower fair for 30 EGP each because they were planted in imported soil. Exporting national soil is not allowed in Egypt. They were small but their trunks to long to fit in the suitcase and so I packed them separately. At the airport, the officer said no soil can leave from the country. He’d let me pass if I checked the plants in my luggage. In Amman, in the garden in front of my window I planted the two mango trees. The Egyptian gardener gave them special care when he knew where they came from.

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Top: Ala Younis, Image #3 and (below) #4 Dark green, almost black from how green they are. I realized that I favor botanical gardens. Somehow they are my places in the cities I visit. I always arrive early and they are most of the time empty, except when I am looking for a bench to sit on. I never really try to memorize the names of the large thick-trunk trees, probably because I am always sure I could find them when I want, on the internet.

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Maha Maamoun, from the series The Subduer (2017) various sizes

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PORTFOLIO Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Jumana Gouth, arts writer and curator.

Ahmed Mater: The Archive in Performance Charting and scripting a record of Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia’s recent history has been minimally

too are under a spotlight. A rabbit ‘caught in the

recorded. Absent an archive, the past does not

headlights’ freezes. A human, under the harsh

enter the present. Missing the link, stories of today

glare of the media—or caught in the perpetual

fall away and the moment does not cohere. In this

brightness of a towering construction site—hides.

and re-written, perhaps the country’s only archive

For Mater, this has been a lifetime of work; for Saudi it is but a brief moment on a timeline characterized by much change, yet it is a fulcrum between past and future.

of what was and is now on the horizon.

A ceremonial drummer sounding anticipation

tumult, scenes, characters and narratives cannot be assimilated, let alone performed. The urban

For Ahmed Mater, this moment in time has led

scene structures the psychological condition, with

to his own performance: works created through

each space—interior, exterior—forged through

actions — found, recorded, spontaneous and

constant cycles of reconfiguration. In the spaces

sometimes scripted—with his compulsion to

between these currents, life carries on. On some

document keeping pace with the tempo of

sites, the shockwaves of mass demolition and

seismic and rapid change. His Desert of Pharan

reconstruction are so recent, so regular, that the

series, grouped into distinct zones of reflection,

performance and its effects are only just starting

brings to the fore Saudi’s main protagonist,

to be staged.

Makkah. Here we have an archive being written

Day-to-day life continues, the torrents of change around us buffering past and unfurling through

and the presence of the worker Jabril on both

future. We find ourselves in the eye of the

The archive, wrote Michel Foucault, is not

a heavenly ascent and a bizarre commute,

storm—his great swirling narrative picks up its

necessarily ‘inscribed in an unbroken linearity,

shackled to labour, comprise the prologue. They

pace only to drop it again, before reorienting its

but comprised of events‘ composed together in

are our guides; the installation of old windows

direction and re-initiating its force some weeks

accordance with multiple relations, maintained or

the backdrop that hints at other times. The

or months later.

blurred in accordance with specific regularities;

photographs are scenes. The play’s climatic

that which determines that they do not withdraw

spectacle comes in lightning; Magnetism is a

Caught as we are, with baited breath, between

at the same pace in time, but shine, as it were,

resolute finale. The ‘distinct figures, composed

applause or hiss, how do we perform? The

like stars, some that seem close to us shining

together in accordance with multiple relations1’

drumroll, that timeless signifier of anticipation—a

brightly from far off, while others that are in fact

draw on the undercurrents of Saudi’s present

nail-biting, beat-skipping prelude to a

close to us are already growing pale.’

realities. For Mater, this has been a lifetime of


performance—is omnipresent. For what comes next on Saudi’s cultural, social and political

Under this premise, the Makkah of old,

timeline characterised by much change, yet it is

landscape? In the midst of what seems like a

depicted being slowly dismantled within Mater’s

a fulcrum between past and future. Anticipation

perpetual cliff-hanger, how do we delineate the

photographs and films, is the closest star—that

lodges within the story as we wait, the world

truth from fiction?

which is already growing pale. In this way, the

waits, to see what’s next. Although, like any

archive, or the continual process of recording,

audience, we know this will inevitably tip towards

is for Mater akin to the process of scripting.

a future in which the details are yet to be scripted.

The performance plays out around us, but we

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work; for Saudi it is but a brief moment on a

Magnetism IV (2012) 226 x 281.8

Mater’s action involves accumulation; pushing the boundaries of Saudi’s

Mater’s sculptural works may be spontaneous or scripted, but are most

own self-definition through a proliferating nexus of information. Desert of

often improvised. They tap into the propensity for the accidental even

Pharan, a series of hundreds of works, charts the site of Makkah, with its

within finely authored plans. Lightning strikes its billion bolts of electricity

expansive, at times destructive or awe-inspiring changes. This conveyance

into the desert, rendering something spectacular and strange from the

of activity, a people, a city being folded down only to be resurrected taller,

expanse of nothing. So too with these scenes of pre- and post-apocalyptic

brighter, more appealing, plays as the opening scene. This performance is

cityscapes—some abandoned, some planned, some emerging from the

hot and overwhelming in the summer, cold and windy through the winter.

desert. The skyline sits silent as only glass towers can—pregnant with

Amid this carousel of changing tableaux, people and their lives seem to

implications of their fragility, yet strident in their potential, too.

stand still. These controlled experiments point to both the force of nature and man’s Mater employs this diligent and assertive lens to script an idea of Saudi,

attempts to wield power over it. To harness a desert, build a city where

using its own cultural, social and political reality to thread the tale. Ashab

once there was but sand, requires a storm—a momentous push of energy

Al-Lal, or Fault Mirage, does so through archival slides. Juxtaposed, they

in one direction. We wonder daily if this is a climax.

pin past to future through images that both collide and merge—confusing what is real with what has been fictionalized. Oil pipelines slice through

Drum Roll, Please — if now comes the storm, what calm will come after?

groups of barefooted children, Sheikhs kneel and pray to a backdrop of

1 Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge and the Discourse on

an oil mine; holes burn through skies over European holiday snaps.

Language (New York: Pantheon Books, 1972), p. 129.

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Previous page: Untitled, 147 x 220 cm From top: Untitled, 10 meter wide wallpaper; Desert of Pharan (2008–2015)

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From Real To The Symbolic City (2012) 245 x 292.5 cm

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Untitled, 180 x 270 cm Lightbox

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Untitled, 100 x 150 cm Lightbox

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Previous page: From the series Desert of Pharan (2008–2015) The Return (2015) Diptych, Archival pigment print 100 x 150 cm (each)

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From the series Desert of Pharan (2008–2015)

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Untitled, 60 x 90 cm Archival pigment print

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Untitled, 33 x 50 cm Archival pigment print

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Old Poet from Ashab Al Lal: Fault Mirage (2016) 21.5 × 11.5 × 9.5 cm wood slide projector with glass slide

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From top: Crisis from Ashab Al Lal: Fault Mirage (2016) 21.5 × 11.5 × 9.5 cm wood slide projector with glass slide Roadblock from Ashab Al Lal: Fault Mirage (2016) 21.5 × 11.5 × 9.5 cm wood slide projector with glass slide Next page: Social Fabric 02 (2017) 147 x 220 cm Archival pigment print

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PORTFOLIO Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Emma Warburton, arts writer and curator.

Mustapha Azeroual: Observation and experimentation. And at the start of it all, there was light, there was colour, there was form Much of Mustapha Azeroual’s work rests in the

only technical and theoretical, but physical as well;

poetic space between opposites. Indeed, Azeroual

the piece is actually not a conventional image, but

works in a way that is at once representational and

rather an installation of large colourful sheets of

abstract, technical and organic, deliberate and

translucent acrylic forming a landscape one can

accidental, and referential and forward thinking.

physically move through. The work presents the

Simultaneously activating dichotomies in both

concept of an image as a environment, and as such,

method and concept, the artist has succeeded in

the visual landscape is subject to change with the

developing a photographic practise that deeply

passing of time, and the movements of the individual

satisfies aesthetically and technically.

experiencing it.

Azeroual trained as a scientist, and therefore he

As one passes through the installation and shifts

brings into his art practise an approach to image

positions, colourful surfaces that once stood alone

making that is substantially based in observation

become suddenly layered in the spectator’s frame

and experimentation. Much of his work gives the

of vision, and new shadows and highlights are cast

impression of being born out of scientific method,

where before there were none. Thus, the image,

one that involves careful measures, planning, testing,

or visual landscape, is altered and experienced

and the formulation of theories and hypotheses that

differently for each spectator. On the one hand,

will likely inform a next approach. Tracing the artist’s

Variations as a photography work is conventional

work since 2010, for example, shows how ideas

in its reference to landscape, colour, and shadow.

are experimented with, new life is breathed into

However the physical and theoretical dissection of

traditional methods, and elements from one project

the photograph, and the process of experiencing an

are carried, in new form, into the next. The result is a

image as an enveloping environment, is fresh and

methodological and aesthetic evolution that fluidly

revealing of the artist’s scientific method.

permeates the artist’s total oeuvre.

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Azeroueral’s work is a beautiful example of how old technologies are revitalised in modern contexts, and deep conceptual investigations find form in aesthetically exquisite ways. our ability to remember, or recognize, an image. The artist begins with traditional printing and shooting

Some of these same themes are carried into

techniques, such as using pinholes and gum

One very obvious point can be made about

Azeroual’s later projects, where they enter new

bichromate, to distort the image by stretching its

Mustapha Azeroual as a photographer: nature,

evolutionary territory. Experimentations in the form

exposure over time. This approach allows Azeroual

and most distinctly considerations of light, colour,

and function of the image are maybe most palpable

to augment the image in stages, abstracting it

and form, are nearly always at the point of creative

in the extensive series entitled Résurgences, 2010-

with light streaks and shadows, and producing the

departure. Earlier series, such as Variations, 2012,

2015, where the artist dramatically plays with the

effect of a multiplicity of viewpoints - similar to in

focus on deconstructing the photographic image -

deconstruction of pictures, both physically and

cubism. The series then sees these images physically

reducing it to its most essential natural elements of

visually. Beginning with the motif of the tree as a

dissected and rearranged on multiple planes. Arbre

colour, value, and degree of lightness and darkness.

subject of collective memory, Azeroual investigates

#1, (2011 - 2015) for example, is a large-scale mobile

In Variations, the process of deconstruction is not

the effects of appropriation and fragmentation on

that suspends from the ceiling, composed of 200

From the series Variations#1 (2012) Installation composed of PMMA colored plates, size variable.

porcelain plates, each printed with an incomplete image of a tree. The mobile

of a horizon line - a suggested delineation between the heavens and the earth

appears first as a sculpture rather than an image; it is three dimensional - a mock

- is found in the gradations of hues. The final images are derived from purely

landscape to be experienced with the entirety of the body, and not solely with

photographic colours that exist nowhere else apart from the surface of the

the eyes. However there is room for pictorial interpretation, as the mobile is not

photosensitive film. Because these colour fields are photographically unique,

static, but rather is subject to change with subtle shifts in air flow and spectator

each viewer may experience them differently. Additionally, each work in the

behavior. With Résurgences, Azeroual takes this investigation into the properties

series is printed using lenticular technology. This printing procedure gives the

of the image even further, eventually printing on three dimensional porcelain

images an illusion of depth that further causes them to change in appearance

objects whose planes avoid being viewed all at once, due to the geometric

depending on the position of the viewer. Here again we see how Azeroual is

structure of their forms.

devoted to understanding the nature of the photographic image as not singular, but plural and multifaceted. Radiance demonstrates how photography is at

Azeroual’s interest in how images are created and interpreted has also inspired

once mechanical and natural, and while a photograph may be produced in a

a number of works where the artist relinquishes control in the photographic

vacuum-like context, it can always be formally traced back to nature, memory

process, rather than the very deliberate interception with images we see in

and subjectivity.

other projects. The Radiance series, 2016, for instance, is based on a process for recording colours. The project is inspired by the idea that an artist has

Mustapha Azeroual’s visual language is one formed from a unique hybridization

limited control over the colours that are recorded and restored while producing

of scientific and artistic vocabularies. Highly formal yet refreshingly experimental,

photographic positives. To create the Radiance series, Azeroual uses a camera

Azeroual’s work is a beautiful example of how old technologies are revitalised in

to capture colour variations during sunrise and sunset, printing these colour

modern contexts, and deep conceptual investigations find form in aesthetically

patterns according to the proportions of a landscape where the general idea

exquisite ways.

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From the series ReĚ surgences #1 (2010) Monochromatic gum bichromate print 52 x 42cm

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From the series ReĚ surgences (2011-2015) Silver gelatin print on baryta 110 x 90 cm

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From the series ReĚ surgences (2011-15) Installation Arbre # 1 composed of 200 porcelain plates supports of gum bichromate prints, 150 x 150 x 300 cm

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From the series ReĚ surgences (2014-2015) Gum bichromate prints over porcelain volume

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From the series Radiance #5 (2016) UV print on lenticulare support 170 x 120 cm

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From the series Radiance #4 (2016) Trichrome gum bichromate prints 38 x 58 cm (each)

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PORTFOLIO Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Woodman Taylor, art historian, curator and ethnomusicologist.

Ebtisam Abdulaziz: Activating Identities Performance Art of Ebtisam Abdulaziz Within the Conceptual Art movement in the United

going through a constraining passageway, viewers

Arab Emirates, Ebtisam Abdulaziz has developed

entered a screening room where they were outsider

one of the most innovative art practices, with her

witnesses to the exchange between an optometrist

work moving from two-dimensional visual variations

and his patient during an eye examination enacted

and photo sequences into the time-based realms of

in the video. In the ensuing dialog there is an active

installation, performance and new media. As a third

negotiation between the male optometrist, who

generation, yet core member, of the Conceptual

through his definitive statements tries to assert

Art movement founded and then incubated by

his authority while his female patient voices an

Hassan Sharif, Abdulaziz’s practice takes cue from her

opposing view point when describing which

mentor Sharif’s performative approach to systematic

direction the ‘E’ she is asked to view is facing. In

art.1 Sharif’s Jumping No. 1, My Body in the Store,

ways similar to her Women’s Circles series, in her


The artistic vision I am trying to convey through this work lies in the difference between vision and illusion, between seeing an image and moving away from it into a world of imagination

which was intended to be viewed within a specially

In her My Brain installation, from 2006, Abdulaziz

which she activates in her work. As she says, her

constructed experiential installation came with

created an installation that also included a running

aim is to ‘stimulate the viewer to think as a person

Abdulaziz’s Vision and Illusion, begun in 2004 and

video. Again the project was an epistemological

solving a mathematical problem and trying to

fully installed at the 7 Sharjah Biennial of 2007. After

enquiry into how viewers register visual and aural

reach a solution.’4

and Body and Square No. 1, all from 1983, are

work Abdulaziz advocates for the subject position

seminal performance pieces for Abdulaziz as well

of a woman. Additionally, as Abdulaziz recounts,

as for others in the group. The remaining record

she intends for her video installation have an affect

for these works planned and performed out of the

on her viewers by making them question the role

sight of any audience are a Muybridgean series of

and authoritative status of vision. ‘The artistic vision

photographs capturing individual moments within

I am trying to convey through this work lies in the

the performance. Protégé Mohammad Kazem, in

difference between vision and illusion, between

his Tongue series of 1994, and then Abdulaziz, in

seeing an image and moving away from it into a

her Women’s Circles from 2010, also initially used

world of imagination. A moment’s reflection reveals

single frame photography to similarly capture their

that an illusory image often leads the observer

performative acts.

into a heightened sense of visual and mental


The shift into real-time video of performance


1 For details of her involvement with the group see Bana Kattan’s transcribed interview with Ebtisam Abdulaziz in Maya Allison with Bana Kattan and Alaa Edris, But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community 1988-2008 (Abu Dhabi: New York University Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, 2017) pp.194-215. 2 For more on the use of photography by these artists see Woodman Taylor, Tracing Performed Concepts in Tribe, Issue 00 (2015), pp.124 -129.

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information by mapping video footage to CAT scans of areas of her own brain where the respective types

In her Autobiography, created over the following

of stimuli are registered. Both of these projects reflect

year of 2007, Abdulaziz activates aspects of her

Abdulaziz’s early training in mathematics and science

own life to critique society in the UAE. To question

3 https://artistebtisamaziz.com/artworks/videos/ accessed 9-3-2018.

the validity of society measuring the value of an 4 But We Cannot See Them, op.cit., p.196.

Stills from the video Remapping Al Fahidi (2013) Performance video Remapping al-Fahidi - While listening to a series of men trying to pronounce the Government’s new designation of al-Fahidi for a historic neighborhood, Abdulaziz trys to re-train her own geographical consciousness by repetitively writing the word out. Yet her reflexive unconscious resists, redirecting her hand to write the historic neighborhood’s name of Bastakiya as a resistive act defying male and political domination.

individual by the amount of their bank balance, a question often asked,

the governmental renaming of the neighborhood that until recently was

particularly when a woman’s marriage is going to be arranged, Abdulaziz

called ‘Bastakiya.’ When her hand reverts to the more familiar ‘Bastakiya’ we

dressed in a black suit covered with varying bank balances which in the

sense a resistance to the directive of the male voices. When taking Yves Klein

video she is seen extracting from an ATM, the ultimate arbiter of value in

blue to actively paint the inside of a human sized plastic bubble in her Blue

commercialized UAE society. The video then follows her as she shocks and

Freedom project, we see Abdulaziz assert a sense of artistic and personal

confounds random bystanders within a variety of societally coded spaces,

freedom from the secure inside of the bubble, where everything outside

from an upscale coffee shop, to a plebian supermarket and finally to areas

looks blue, yet those outside have a blocked view of who or what is within.

where immigrant South Asian workers relax on their day off. Again, her intent in her video is not to merely document her performance, but to have an

Finding that as a woman her artistic freedom was restricted within the

affect on viewers, making them question why people should judge others by

UAE, in 2014 Abdulaziz decided to move to the United States. Her three

their economic means. This also was one of the first art projects to include,

video works completed after moving, Structures of 2015, Unashamed

indeed acknowledge, South Asian workers within their framing of the UAE.

from 2016 and Islamophobia completed in 2017, each strongly critique the structures and restrictions of society. Through performances activating

With her two multimedia projects from 2013, Remapping Al Fahidi and Blue

subject positions of a now unabashed woman artist and then as a Muslim

Freedom, through her own performance within the video Abdulaziz again

living in a growingly Islamophobic United States, in her recent multimedia

questions patriarchal and political power structures. In Remapping Al Fahidi

projects Ebtisam Abdulaziz continues to advocate for women artists as

we see Abdulaziz desperately trying to train herself to write ‘Al Fahidi’, which

well as Muslims living in the West like herself, while also aiming to have

we simultaneously hear men reciting in their varying pronunciations, following

an affect on those who view her work.

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Stills from the video Remapping Al Fahidi (2013) Performance video

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Stills from the video Unashamed (2015) Performance photographs & video 45 x70 cm Unabashed – A woman writes ‘unabashed’ in the reflective orange glow of warning signs all over her black suit. In the process, she finally also begins to move freely, in an unabashed way.

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Stills from the video Society Structure (2015) Performance photographs 50 x 70 cm Structures – Through a performance sequence, a black-suited woman who is severely constrained within a cube, begins agitating movements to then break through the confining cube’s boundaries, to finally emerge freed from these constraining societal structures.

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Stills from the video Blue Freedom (2013) Installation (sphere), performance photographs, 100 x 80 cm Blue Freedom – From standing in a clear plastic sphere, Abdulaziz methodically paints the interior with a Yves Klein like blue, ultimately creating a private blue space within that she associates with her own freedom of artistic expression.

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Stills from the video Islamophobia (2017) Performance photographs & video 45 x 70 cm Islamophobia – In a post-Trumpian world Abdulaziz partially hides herself behind her repetitive writing of the word “Muslim” on a clear partition, creating a veil through which non-Muslims label and stereotype people originating from those countries that Mr. Trump tried to ban.

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Stills from the video Autobiography (2007) Performance photographs 8 x 10 cm Autobiography – Dressed In a black suit covered with luminescent green bank balances taken from her daily ATM interactions, Abdelaziz’s woman shocks people as she walks through her daily life, from shopping, to ordering food at an upscale coffee shop to relaxing in a grassy knoll where South Asian workers enjoy their time off. Through her performance Abdulaziz critiques how society reduces people to their monetary figure of their account balance as well as how society creates boundaries where Emirati women are never allowed to relax nor intermingle in urban spaces inhabited by immigrant workers.

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Stills from video the Vision & Illusion (2005) Performance video & installation room, mirror, dimensions variable Vision and Illusion – After moving through constraining spaces leading to a screening room, Abdulaziz takes viewers through the process of her own eye examination where you see and hear a dominant male doctor try to dictate what Abdulaziz is seeing, yet in her responses, sometimes with “incorrect” answers, she resists the authority of the doctor, used here as a metaphor of male-dominated society.

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PORTFOLIO Images - Courtesy of Ahmad Mrowat Collection. Writer - Kevin Jones, independent arts writer.

Karimeh Abbud: A legacy The first Palestinian woman photographer On the surface, it’s a stirring success story of a

say for sure who is who? Does one landscape denote

pioneering woman. In 1932 Palestine, against the

Abbud’s eye more than another? What ciphers must

backdrop of the British Mandate, an enterprising

we conjure to ascertain authorship?

young photographer, Karimeh Abbud (1893-1940), placed an ad in Al-Karmil newspaper trumpeting her

Loss, that Palestinian constant, taints this story as well

unique value proposition—“the only national female

as countless others. ‘The Nakba was a catastrophe

photographer in Palestine”—playing at once into the

in every sense of the word,’ confides Reverend Mitri

growing nationalist (read: non-sectarian) label, as well

Raheb, Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in

as promoting her gendered agility to photograph

Bethlehem (where Abbud’s father himself was at the

women in their own homes. A canny self-marketer,

spiritual helm for some 50 years), in Mahasen Nasser-

Abbud stamped her postcard-format prints with the

Eldin’s documentary biopic of Abbud, Restored

embossed moniker “Lady Photographer” in both

Pictures (2012). ‘We lost the land,’ he continues.

English and Arabic. Today, she is largely recognized

‘We lost the narrative. And we lost everything that

as the first Palestinian (or Arab) woman to have set

had taken shape and place during the preceding

up her own photographic studio, and to have worked


consistently in a field dominated, at the time, by men. Yet this is precisely what Abbud retrieves for us— But it is also a tale of mystery and loss. The archive

an anthology of accumulated life processes that

is enigmatic. This wellspring—from which was

constituted the quotidian in early 20th century

drawn the first comprehensive exhibition of Abbud’s

Palestine. Abbud was not just (inadvertently)

works at Amman’s Darat al-Funun (18 May to 24

documenting some familial inner sanctum, but

Karimeh Abbud, Studio C. Sawides, Haifa, Palestine.

September 2017)—only surfaced in 2006. In that

indeed an entire social class. And beyond: when she

sculpted wooden door complete with hand-shaped

year, an Israeli antiquarian named Boki Boazz, who

ventures out into the world, her images seem almost

knocker. Elsewhere, a pair of stony-faced siblings

had allegedly acquired a collection of some 400

contemporary—of “now,” but somehow glistening

in traditional headgear, a fidgety tomboy freeze-

(mostly) signed photographs from a house in the

with a residue of “then.”

framed in a sculpted armchair, or a dapper youngster

Qatamon neighborhood of Jerusalem, sold his

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perched next to a telephone, offer testament to a

stockpile to researcher Ahmad Mrowat, director of

The portraits are as moving as they are revealing.

world of privileged self-consciousness.

the Nazareth Research Project, who folded it into his

Unsurprisingly, children and women abound. A

own fledgling trove.

sage-smiling, black-clad girl, her hand-held doll,

The many women’s portraits provide initial glimpses

floor-bound hobbyhorse and crouching toy dog

of Abbud’s hefty, almost man-like cousin Mateel, a

Yet the archive is contaminated: it contains images by

creating a ludic triangulation, stares at the camera,

photographic fetish threading throughout the entire

Abbud, but also those she collected, or others still,

at once complicit and defiant. A booted young boy,

archive, even into the most experimental hand-color-

of hazy provenance, that lingered in family albums.

wearing a tartan-patterned trench coat and matching

variation works (Abbud tints her cousin’s dress in

How, then, to separate fact from conjecture? Can we

pointed hat, reigns as a mini-maître des lieux before a

peach and turquoise in one series). A single self-

portrait dots this line-up of feminine narrative fantasy: sitters play instruments, don

Two currents provide a crucial prism through which to interpret Abbud’s

Bedouin dress, or seem beloved, caressing fulsome bouquets. Smart, swaying

particular talent. First, the market. While she excelled at a specific breed

handbags, coquettish hats, strapped character shoes, sleeveless pleated frocks—

of empathy and complicity in her studio portraiture, she was also shrewd

every sartorial detail summons heady evidence of a life tragically smothered.

enough to eschew the reductive Orientalizing trend: nowhere can we see the

The men’s portraits, far fewer than those of women and kids, tend to be of the

trivializing Biblical euphoria so common in Mandatory Palestine—costumed

classic head-and-shoulder ilk. The backgrounds and props herald from Abbud’s

phantasms catering to Western fetishization. Second, social class. Purely in

(transportable) studio, yet transmit messages of both progress (phones, cars) and

terms of content, we are confronted with a genteel world of learned, pious

heritage (tarbouches, proto-keffiyehs).

yet progressive, upper class Palestinians; only when Abbud steps away from the sturdy oaken interiors and jolly studio backdrops does she document

Reducing Abbud’s work to mere documentary anthologizing, though, would

an industrious, less privileged class. But the very fact that this body of work

disserve the artistry that pulses through her creative output. An Arbus-like

materializes such social strata is enormously important to a more nuanced

frankness wafts across many of the (mostly female) sitters’ gazes. The “Lady

vision of pre-Nakba Palestine.

Photographer” set aside her marketing compunction long enough to experiment not only with colour (Mateel’s chameleon dresses) but narrative: in one image,

It is very likely that Abbud was sensitized to the growing Zionist threat under

a tree is literally painted onto the negative, snaking up through the hands and

the British Mandate: after the 1936 Palestinian uprising, her father, Reverend

contouring the head of a placid female subject; in another, a woman is hand-

Abbud, began organizing cultural events in Bethlehem with titles like “Zionism

painted into sainthood with a saffron-tinged halo.

and the Old Testament” and “Jesus and the Homeland.” Najib Nassar, the staunchly anti-Zionist founder of Al-Karmil newspaper, was among her social

Abbud’s work beyond studio portraiture is perhaps her most startling, where

circle. While this early awareness would certainly ground her “national”

it hits its most artistic, almost contemporary, stride. Punctuated by seemingly

positioning, it may be a stretch to say that her precocious sense of impending

spontaneous images of “everyday” Palestinians, this body of work also comprises

Zionist doom led her to capture so frankly her own Palestinian surround. In

interiors, Nazareth cityscapes and landscapes of the surrounding countryside.

any case, it is obvious now that powerfully coordinated forces have conspired

From an olive-picker perched on a ladder, her face framed by branches, to the

to suffocate the Palestinian narrative, to insist that pre-Nakba Palestine was a

sun-shafts beaming under the vaults of a church, dancing through the columns,

social desert, some cultural wasteland. While Abbud’s oeuvre does much to

images from these series bear the singular mark of being at once highly formal

disprove this Zionist revisionism, it is also an oeuvre with hallmark aesthetic and

yet strangely intimate, humane.

formalist strengths. If nothing else, it is worthy of further study and scholarship.

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Portrait of unidentified woman, with tree painted on the print afterwards.

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Left to right: Portrait of unidentified woman (possibly her sister Lydia) Portrait of unidentified woman Portrait of her cousin Mateel, hand-coloured

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Left page: Portrait of unidentified pair of young athletes child Portraiture

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PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Lizzy Vartanian Collier, arts writer and curator.

Alia Ali: Borderland Fabric becomes the conduit to question identity Alia Ali, a Yemeni-Bosnian-American multimedia

to interact with anything beyond the material.

artist, explores the processes that unite and

Who are the characters? Are they male or are

divide us all at once. Her BORDERLAND series

they female? Are they young? Maybe they are

consists of figures completely engulfed in

old? Moreover, are the figures hiding or being

the national and traditional fabrics of eleven

hidden? The material in itself becomes a border

different world regions. She uses textiles as a

and a barrier between the character that has

tool to question our modern understanding of

been photographed and the viewer, creating

a ‘border’ and to provoke thoughts on identity,

an uneasy distance between the photograph

barriers and belonging.

and its audience.

The term “border” relates to the junction where

Ali describes her characters as ‘-cludes’ and

nations collide, often causing violence against

leaves it to the viewer to decide whether they

identity. The “borderland” then, is the area that

have chosen to be depicted in such a way,

surrounds these borders where people interact

asserting their power and will: the ‘include.’

with these borders imposed on them. Fabric,

Or, that they have been manipulated into their

says Ali is ‘a material that divides us and unites

categorization and representation: the ‘exclude.’

us all at once.’ In January 2017, Ali found herself

In some of the images the figures position

witnessing the inauguration of Donald Trump

themselves or have been positioned in stances

as President of the United States, a man who

that would appear strong, with their limbs,

purported bigotry and fear when promoting his

though covered, on display. This is particularly

campaigns. The primaries in the run up to the

true in the images where the characters fabric-

election stunned Ali, who was witnessing both

covered bodies are photographed against a black

a normalization of hatred and an increase in

background. Whereas in others, the subjects look

nationalistic tendencies, something she reacted

like they have been confined, with their patterned


textiles blending in to vibrant fabrics behind them, with only their head and shoulders visible.

By manipulating textiles, Ali uses something that

Perhaps where the figures stand out behind the

almost everyone in the world touches on a daily

black, they may even be exposed, whereas the

all. The same way that borders on a map mean

basis to question the social barriers that inhibit

clash of patterns in other prints might display

nothing and everything all at the same time,

the incorporation of others. ‘Textiles are separate

the meeting of cultures colliding.

they separate peoples that are already side-by-

from religion, they are cultural and that is an

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I think each textile or set of textiles within an image says just enough to tell a story, it’s the story of those enveloped in the fabric- on their own terms and through a visual language. Collectively, it makes an archive

side. Ali’s images force the viewer to question

important distinction.’ The fabrics used in the

Fabric is soft, and in many ways so are borders.

what a border is, and how these are enforced.

BORDERLAND series covers any hint of skin, hair

We think of borders as being quite hard,

Moreover, on what side of the fabric do we find

or identity, removing the ability of the subject

although actually they are often not tactile at

ourselves and where does the power lie?

from the series Borderland (2017)

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from the series Borderland (2017)

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from the series Borderland (2017)

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PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Sulaf Derawy Zakharia, writer.

Ghada Khunji: FaRIDA An alter ego A woman stares out of a photomontage that is an

the lens on herself, she was producing work that was

unabashed recreation of a Frida Kahlo self-portrait.

uncharacteristically introspective.

The woman, FaRIDA, bears an unnerving resemblance to the Mexican painter, as does the photomontage

Kahlo was ‘… an artist who had been bending genders,

to the painting. Both women, in obvious pain, stare

blending ethnicities, making the personal political and

stoically out of their respective works.

revolutionizing the concept of ‘beautiful,’’2 well before it became fashionable. Rediscovering Kahlo’s work at

Ghada Khunji – prodigal daughter, award-winning

that point in her life resonated deeply with Khunji. The

photographer – returned to Bahrain in 2013. In the

impact was visceral, spawning FaRIDA who features in a

twenty-five years that she had lived in New York, she

series of photomontages that are beautifully shameless

had developed a style influenced by photographers

appropriations of Kahlo’s paintings.

such as Diane Arbus and Annie Leibovitz. Her work was outward looking and vicarious. Like Arbus, Khunji

‘There is an alchemy in pain,’ says Khunji, and in telling

appeared to capture an essential part of her subject

the story of her own pain she recounts the suffering

with a candid immediacy but, at least superficially,

of all women and describes its transmutation into

she remained a voyeuristic observer firmly situated

strength and beauty. She tells of limiting taboos and

outside her work.

confronting realizations: women’s relationships with their own bodies, societal restrictions imposed by

Given Khunji’s earlier documentary work, Kahlo seems

gender, heritage, and class, the pain of loss as distinct

an unlikely inspiration. Kahlo’s paintings are deeply

from that caused by physical or emotional violation.

personal, an ongoing investigation of her inner life

The photomontages are almost identical in composition

and personal pain so intimate and self-absorbed

to Kahlo’s paintings, and like the paintings, they are

that at times they have been described as ostensibly

rife with symbolism, but Khunji, by incorporating her

narcissistic1. Unsurprisingly, prior to her return to

own motifs, creates a visual vocabulary entirely her

Bahrain, Khunji’s interest in the Mexican painter’s work

own. Each object in the photomontages is owned

was cursory.

by either Khunji or members of her immediate family and holds a deep personal significance.

By the time Khunji was reintroduced to Kahlo’s paintings

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in 2015, her work had experienced a marked shift.

In her version of Kahlo’s Self Portrait with Thorn

Feeling that documentary photography was neither

Necklace and Hummingbird (1940), she replaces the

understood nor appreciated in Bahrain in the same way

thorns with her mother’s bangle which she pairs with

as it was in New York, she had started to experiment

her grandmother’s earrings. The butterflies that adorn

with photomontage as an alternative medium. Turning

her hair come from a collection that her mother had

1 Prignitz-Poda, Helga (2003), Frida Kahlo: A Painter and Her Work, Schirmer/Mosel

2 Cotter, Holland (2008), The People’s Artist, Herself a Work of Art, New York Times

Andre Breton once famously described Frida Kahlo’s paintings as a ‘coloured ribbon around a bomb.’ FaRIDA, may in time prove to be no less incendiary. purchased while on holiday in Thailand. The coloured butterflies hug the side of her head; the darker ones fly away taking with them the dark thoughts that plague her. She replaces Frida’s monkey with an Arabian falcon. It sits protectively on her shoulder, but it digs its talons into her flesh drawing blood. The bird is a part of her, its tail feathers blending into those of the one tattooed on her arm. She asks to what degree are we complicit in our own pain? She replaces its eye with one of her own, her third eye. The effect is at once shamanic and surreal. An ‘Immaculate Heart’ replaces the hummingbird referencing the suffering of the Virgin Mary and recalling the Catholic influences of her early childhood. FaRIDA remains a work-in-progress as Khunji continues to expand it as a form of therapy for herself, a realization of strength and beauty, as well as an exploration of her pain in relation to others’. Andre Breton once famously described Frida Kahlo’s paintings as a ‘coloured ribbon around a bomb.’ FaRIDA, may in time prove to be no less incendiary.

Self Portrait with Cropped Hair, from the series FaRIDA

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Self Portrait with Necklace, from the series FaRIDA

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Itzcuinti Dog with Me, from the series FaRIDA

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PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Danna Lorch, independent arts and culture writer.

Jalal BinThaneya: Industry Cannibalized landscapes bring an awareness of oil ‘Are we going to celebrate the last barrel of oil that

Oil is inescapable and so are the industrial

reports geared towards investors. However,

leaves the region or are we going to despair?’ Jalal

processes and places that render it so useful.

BinThaneya follows a strong line of fine art

BinThaneya’s photography relentlessly poses this

There is a rising paranoia about what would

industrial photographers including Edward

same question from conflicting angles as he trawls

happen without it. But is that going to become a

Burtynsky, Margaret Bourke-White, and the f/64

cannibalized industrial landscapes of the United

reality anytime soon? ‘The beautiful thing about

Group. The latter was founded in the 1930’s by

Arab Emirates for answers.

petroleum,’ BinThaneya explains, ‘is that it never

Ansel Adams and Willard Van Dyke and caused

really disappears. Dilute it and it’s in the water.

offense to other photographers at the time.

Classifying himself as “an accidental artist,”

Burn it and it’s in the air. Bury it and it’s in the

F/64 was committed to a realist aesthetic that

BinThaneya fell into a serious practice entirely by


called attention to fading agrarian landscapes,

chance when in 2013, he looked on as workers

processes and implements—a stance that broke

began to unceremoniously demolish the historic

It is challenging to draw out the original purpose of

with the romantic, painterly styles popular with

watchtower on Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port. Built in

BinThaneya’s machines from the isolated segments

Americans who, during and after the Great

the 1970’s as the export of petroleum reserves

he reveals—but this kind of factual knowledge

Depression looked to art for a dream of better

supercharged Dubai towards globalization, Sheikh

is not the point of the work. ‘I’m not concerned

days ahead. BinThaneya can relate.  ‘I find I am

Rashid famously held meetings in the stronghold

with the project of documenting these spaces and

in a similar situation trying to bring out the raw

during the 90’s. At first, BinThaneya stood by with

issues,’ he clarifies. ‘Instead, I am amplifying them

image, when the way most people perceive

hands clasped together as though paying his

in large format to drive public debate about what

the purpose of images here is to make things

respects to the dead. ‘That’s a piece of our history

is happening behind fences and walls.’

beautiful or for nostalgic purposes. My subject

just gone’ he thought, fiddling with the iPhone in

matter doesn’t fit in.’

his starched white pocket. ‘So I began snapping

The photographs divulge steel pipes tangled

hundreds of photos.’

like snakes, fairytale-like spiral staircases leading

He is grudgingly committed to slow photography.

up broad oil tanks, and intricate ladders sinking

It can take months to confirm a site as multiple

He has gone on shooting to understand—and

into sand. There is an unexpected element of

levels of permission, specialized protective gear

even at times— to provoke ever since. Industry, an

poetry here. Although there are never any

and an accompanying in-house engineer are

ongoing series, gains rare access to, examines and

people present, these are actually portraits, as

compulsory before the shutter can even click in

contrasts obsolete and active refineries, pipelines

everything BinThaneya captures involves nature’s

the government-operated facilities. When access

and oilfields. By making dormant industrial ghosts

manipulation by human hands. Individual pieces

does finally come through, BinThaneya shoots

his subjects, BinThaneya aims to jolt viewers into an

from the series have been shown in group

rapidly, alternating between three different

awareness of how oil is synonymous with material

exhibitions around the UAE at spaces including

cameras. Film has to be sent to New York for

culture, added to everything from nail polish to

Tashkeel, Sharjah Art Foundation and The Empty

developing, then to Germany for scanning—a

aspirin, water pipes and asphalt roads. Like an


process that takes weeks, is expensive and

irrepressible sugar craving he says, ‘we are hungry

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suspenseful, and demands unusual patience

for it but don’t realize. Everything would come to a

Today most industrial photography is of a

for someone who is the product of an instant,

standstill without industry. We can’t live without it.’

corporate nature, appearing in glossy annual

results-driven era.

Gas Station 3 (End of an era), from the series Industry (2016) Archival pigment print, 148 x186 cm

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Oil and Gas Field 6 and (below) 1 from the series Industry (2016) archival pigment print 148 x 186 cm

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Previous page: Oil and gas field 7-2 from the series Industry (2016) Archival pigment print 148 x 186 cm Oil and Gas Field 7 (Under pressure) from the series Industry (2016) Archival pigment print 148 x 186 cm

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PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist, the Arab Image Foundation and the Ruya Foundation. Writer - Suzy Sikorski, art historian and writer.

Latif Al Ani: Through the Lens Father of Iraqi Photography Latif Al Ani, whose role as ‘Father of Iraqi

beautiful images, regardless. My concern was the

Photography’ encompasses three decades of

beauty of the image, not politics. This was my creed.

documentation, from the 1950s through 1970s. His

The fear was already planted inside of me, but I took

work captures the belle époque of the cosmopolitan

advantage of this job to document.’1

and modern Iraq during these years, detailing a wide range of political, industrial and colloquial cultures of

Taking up photography at the age of 15, his earliest

the time, from the 1958 anti-colonial revolution up

photos were of his natural environment, and of

until the rise of Saddam Hussein and the Iran-Iraq

people, including faces and those on rooftops.

War in 1980. A subtle interplay between objects,

One of his friend’s, Aziz Ajam, editor for the Iraqi

people, archaeology and urban life, his photographs

Petroleum Company’s Arabic language magazine

narrate a jarring realism of a fleeting moment within

Ahl Al Naft [People of Oil], helped him to become a

a booming Iraq.

trainee there, and it is there that he began to develop his film in studios on Rashid Street. As he says on his

Al Ani was employed by the British controlled

early interactions with his community, ‘It was always

Iraqi Petroleum Company, later developing the

an event when I went to a place with my camera.

photography department at the Iraqi government’s

People gathered. It became my social identity; it

Ministry of Information and Guidance in 1960. In

imposed a certain authority, garnered respect, and

the 1970s he became Head of Photography at

people responded well to it since everyone wanted

the Iraqi News Agency, amassing over 1,500 black

their photo taken. I often pretended to photograph

brick buildings and infrastructure projects. In one

and white documentary photos in their archive. In

someone while aiming elsewhere. People always

of the exhibited photos, Pipe construction for the

the Ministry of Information, he was regarded as

wanted to touch the lens.’

Darbandikhan water pipeline project, a worker is


the only Iraqi who knew how to develop colour

in the process of constructing the foundations of

photographs, training others like Bulus Hanna and

Al Ani’s works displayed in the current show, at the

the dam that are illustrated in the photo by a bulky,

Halim Khatat who weresome one of the first to shoot

Sharjah Art Foundation, curated by Sheikha Hoor

whirling structure of spirals that beget a combination

aerial photographs of places like Liberation Square,

Al Qassimi, feature a juxtaposition between formal

of loops of shade and sunlight, bringing a rich

Mirjan Mosque and the ruins at Ctesiphon. Al Ani

and historical contrasts. They orchestrate a jarring

interplay in elements of form, light and historical

traveled throughout the country to photograph for

invitation to the shifting vantage points, cropping

reference to the forefront.

the magazine published by the department – New

and scale contrasts that he wished to create,

Iraq, which was printed in five different languages:

beckoning to a new era of photography that had

For decades, Al Ani produced these images out of

Arabic, Kurdish, English, French and German. He

never been executed in the country before. His works

this explicit fear since the revolution of 1958, recalling

documented all facets of Iraqi life, including its

feature beautiful landscapes and ancient murals of

‘there was no stability…Fear was a major motive to

industrial boom, cultural preservation, the comraderie

his land juxtaposed against modern elements of

document everything as it was. I did all that I could

of its workers, and agricultural production. As the

1 Latif in conversation with Tamara Chalabi, published in Latif Al Ani, M. Montazami, Hatje Cantz, 2017). 2 Ibid.

to document, to safeguard that time.’3 In 1980 the

artist said, ‘I always translated the message into

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My concern was the beauty of the image, not politics. This was my creed. The fear was already planted inside of me, but I took advantage of this job to document.

3 Ibid.

Lady in the Eastern Desert (1961) Archival pigment print 25 x 25 cm

photographer stopped producing work; he was devoid of his passion, finding

At 85 years old, the artist remains in Baghdad, eager to find the next generation

his country without the beauty he felt within those three glamorous decades.

of young photographers that may capture the same shimmers of hope and perseverance he found. Not only do his works encapsulate the Iraqi struggle,

Today much of his archival photographs have been destroyed due to the

but they also seek to embody the tragedy of loss, whether it be of memory,

US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and it was only recently that the artist has been

or of a fantasy that merely existed within the enchanting objects and people

rediscovered. In 2015 his work was featured in the Iraqi Pavilion’s ‘Invisible

surrounding us. His works appear to yearn for a momentous continuity that

Beauty’ at the 56th Venice Biennale and his first monograph was published

we all seek in the many ‘golden eras’ of our evolution, caught within a time

by Hatje Cantz with support from the Ruya Fondation. Subsequently, he won

capsule we seek to celebrate but that is unable to manifest into our current

the Historical Book Award at ‘Les Rencontres d’Arles’ in 2017.

realities anymore.

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Stolen head that was not retrieved, Hatra (1960) Archival pigment print 25 x 25 cm

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Left to right: Building the Darbandikhan Dam (1962) Archival pigment print 25 x 25 cm Al Aqida, High School, Baghdad (1961) Archival pigment print 25 x 25 cm

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US couple in Ctesiphon (1965) B+W digital print on Fine Art paper 25 x 25 cm

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Top left: Al Malak, Baghdad (1964); (right) B+W digital print on Fine Art paper 25 x 25 cm

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PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist and Athr Gallery. Writer - Sandra Williams, curator.

Moath Alofi: Doors of Barlik Salvaging the present for the future. After several years spent living abroad, Saudi

the city’s historic neighborhoods and communities,

photographer Moath Alofi returned to find his

is perhaps the best example of this.

hometown of Medina vastly transformed by development projects, with historic neighborhoods

In Doors of Barlik Alofi photographed the

razed to make way for new construction and the

neighborhoods slated to be demolished and created

expansion of the Mosque of the Prophet. In recent

“types” from the demolition process: the ill-fated

years, Medina and nearby Mekkah have undergone

houses with their blue-spray painted numbers (used for

a rapid transformation fueled by the global Muslim

residents to receive financial compensation from the

community’s growth and the expansion of air travel,

government), the machines that tear them down, and

which have brought ever more pilgrims to the two holy

the mosques that linger in deserted neighborhoods.

cities. Capitalizing on the economic boom of tourism,

Alofi’s documentation recalls John Divola’s Isolated

the government has constructed new roads, parking

Houses series but where Divola saw life clinging on in

lots, hotels and shopping malls to accommodate the

barren, hostile environments, Alofi records its decline

surge of pilgrims. This development has led to the

at the epicenter of civilization, the city.

destruction of historic buildings and neighborhoods, which has drawn the attention of critics and artists,

The absence of people in Alofi’s landscapes is startling

including Alofi and Ahmed Mater. Fearing the loss

and amplified by the homes and detritus that are

of the city’s historic identity, Alofi took to Medina’s

mementos of the once-thriving communities. Alofi’s

streets to photograph the changes.

critique of community displacement is made explicit in his titling of the series, which refers to seferberlik, a

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Like the German photographers Bernd and Hilla

term for the Ottoman administration’s early-twentieth-

Becher, Alofi relies on repetition, forming visual

century practice of conscription but also more

typologies of related structures: abandoned roadside

specifically to the deportation of Medina’s inhabitants

mosques, soon-to-be demolished homes, and ancient

to Greater Syria. As a collective memory for Medina’s

sites comprehensible only from a bird’s eye view. His

residents, seferberlik is a painful reminder of forcible

spare and straightforward style places an emphasis

removal by a dominating power. In its totality Doors

on form, particularly the rectilinear structure of homes

of Barlik is a near-apocalyptic vision. What appears

and mosques that lend themselves to compelling

to be the devastation of war is instead a reflection of

minimalist compositions. Form, however, is only the

the ravages of capitalism on vulnerable communities,

surface of Alofi’s intent. Harbored within his exquisitely

a phenomenon occurring around the world. As a

composed photographs are concerns for the rapid

counterpoint to the glossy promotional materials

and unchecked development of Medina and the

used to promote development projects throughout

abandonment of the historic city’s past. His series

Saudi Arabia, the series is a warning to society that

Doors of Barlik, which addresses the destruction of

misguided modes of development are undermining

For Alofi, Medina’s evolving urban landscape and its environs are a space for salvaging the remnants of history and reflecting on the city’s contemporary trajectory. the living communities that have sustained the city. For Alofi, Medina’s evolving urban landscape and its environs are a space for salvaging the remnants of history and reflecting on the city’s contemporary trajectory. Alofi has stated that he is creating an archive for future generations, where they might see what came before the malls and roads. His photographs then are an act of preservation, recording what is soon to be lost while simultaneously shedding light on the destructive effects of commercial development in the hope of altering present policies. In his seminal work, The City in History, Lewis Mumford wrote, ‘The chief function of the city is to convert power into form, energy into culture, dead matter into the living symbols of art, biological reproduction into social creativity’.1 Alofi aids Medina in this process through his photography, drawing art from the wreckage of a city in transformation. 1. Lewis Mumford, The City in History San Diego, CA and New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2005), p. 571.

Doors of Barlik, From the series Doors of Barlik (2016) Archival pigment print 80 x 120 cm

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From the series Doors of Barlik (2016) Archival pigment print 80 x 120 cm

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From the series Doors of Barlik (2016) Archival pigment print 80 x 120 cm

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From the series Doors of Barlik (2016) Archival pigment print 80 x 120 cm

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From the series Doors of Barlik (2016) Archival pigment print 80 x 120 cm

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PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Lulu M Al-Sabah, art consultant and writer.

Myriam Abdelaziz: Portraits Telling the stories behind the headlines Myriam Abdelaziz was a teenager when she

18 days to demand the end of President Hosni

watched the Rwandan genocide unfold on TV.

Mubarak’s 30-year reign. Abdelaziz documented

The shock of that 100-day period in 1994, when an

this historic event.

estimated 800,000 Rwandans were brutally killed, haunted her for years. ‘I couldn’t believe how

The strong, powerful images in her series,

the world could be so dark,’ she says. It sparked

Egyptian Revolt, show the determination and

her desire to tell stories, even devastatingly sad

camaraderie of the protesters in Tahrir Square,

stories, in the medium of photojournalism. Indeed,

along with the injuries, near-fatalities and burnt

her first documentary work after graduating from

out cars. ‘Those people deserved to gather on

the International Center of Photography in New

the square, there were a lot of things that were

York City in 2006 was on Rwanda. Entitled, Portrait

unfair,’ she says, ‘After the revolution, there was

of a Genocide, it is a tribute to the survivors. The

a huge wave of arrests on journalists… it became

ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutu sympathizers

unsafe to photograph.’ Abdelaziz believes that a

portrayed bear the markings of the genocide on

lot of people were fooled by this revolution, as

their bodies, which are maimed, disfigured and

the situation only got worse in Egypt. ‘[They] are

scarred. The immense psychological toll of this

poorer today, life is harsher, back to a dictatorship

with no education?’ she asks. Abdelaziz compared

human tragedy is reflected in their eyes.

that is worse… if there was no hope before, there

her inability to work in Egypt to a break-up in that

is even less now, many are hardly surviving,’ she

she shut down as a mode of protection. There was

After Rwanda, Abdelaziz turned to Cairo, the city

explains. The crackdown in Egypt led her to adopt

no point in thinking about all the stories that could

where she was born. In her series, Men Dreaming,

a new style of photography, fine-art inspired

be covered if there was no red tape. ‘In Egypt,

she depicts men at work in various professions,

by documentary, as she was no longer able to

there are tons of stories not being told… I put it

including a baker, a tailor, a gardener, a fruit

document the struggles of her people.

behind me because it was sad and frustrating…

seller, a juice-maker and a mechanic. These men

it was time to transition,’ she says. Abdelaziz

are among the 90% in Egypt who live below the

Her first series in this new style, entitled Trashtails

poverty line, on less than $100 a month. They

(2015/2016), would also be the last series she

are described as dreamers because most cannot

produced in Egypt. The portraits and landscapes

By 2015, Abdelaziz had been living in New

afford to educate their children, get married or

were taken in an area outside of Cairo that was

York City for ten years with a green card and

own anything of value. ‘While I was working on

strewn with heaps and heaps of garbage. Children

was now eligible to become an American

this series, I felt something was going to happen

in tatty clothes pose amidst the garbage, which

citizen. Having grown up in Geneva with a

in this country,’ she says, ‘While interviewing the

was the photographer’s way of expressing her

French citizenship and Egyptian parents, she

men I photographed, I could hear the despair…

disgust at the situation. ‘The garbage is a micro

was used to a multicultural upbringing. Yet

some were not able to save enough money to

representation of the bigger picture, of children

the prospect of becoming an American citizen

buy a TV.’ That something did happen on January

growing up in a rotten environment… What does

led her to question what it means to be an

25 2011, when the people took to the streets for

it mean for a country when millions are growing up

American. She says, ‘The American identity is


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It sparked her desire to tell stories, even devastatingly sad stories, in the medium of photojournalism

embarked on her most ambitious project to date.

Untitled #3 From the series ‘Egyptian Revolt’ (2011)

very complex, I spent a year contemplating it whilst travelling alone across

her to other people. Her travels increased her tolerance to diverging

the country.’ For the first three-month stretch, she headed south from

viewpoints and led her towards this conclusion:

New York to Colorado, passing through Texas, New Mexico, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. For the final one-month stretch, she went West

‘People came from all over the world to build this country and made it the

and North, to places such as Nevada, Washington State and California.

strongest country in the world. The US government does not back you.

She photographed over 100 people. Every person she approached was

It is the US citizens that pay taxes for their health insurance, education…

excited to participate as they loved the idea of the project and identified

citizens work hard and pay the government. The people built this land and

with the concept.

country. Of course, I am becoming an American. I want to be a part of this.’

Abdelaziz discovered communities of Pakistanis and Swedes in Kansas,

One month after obtaining citizenship, Abdelaziz voted in the US election.

which is representative of the sheer diversity that exists in America.

The candidate that won was against all the reasons that she felt made America

She realized that, ‘The strength of America is in its diversity. Our

great. Her series, which is still on-going and soon to be made into a book,

differences make us strong.’ People welcomed her, hosted her, gave

is called We The People. She staunchly believes that people should unite

her recommendations as to where to eat and sleep while also connecting

on the basis that our differences make us unique.

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From top: Untitled #1 and Untitled #2 from the series Egyptian Revolt (2011)

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From top: Untitled #1 and Untitled #2 from the series Portraits of a Genocide (2009)

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From right to left: (top) Untitled #1, Untitled #2, (below) Untitled #3, Untitled #4 from the series Trashtails (2014)

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From left: Untitled #1 and Untitled #2 from the series WE THE PEOPLE (2017)

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PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist. Writer - Sabrina DeTurk, academic, writer and art historian.

Zeinab Al Hashemi: Mapping Space and Time Documenting change through pattern and process Zeinab Al Hashemi is perhaps best known for her

repetition. Al Hashemi is interested in the way the

three-dimensional works, however her photographic

cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi were put together,

series Urban Phantasmagoria (2013-2016) also reflects

seeing them as ‘well designed rather than organic.’ Her

a number of themes and concepts that are critical to

own highly choreographed and impeccably rendered

her practice. The works in the series are created from

photographs reflect that intentional design not only

composite satellite photos of Dubai and Abu Dhabi

in their subject but in their style.

and incorporate Al Hashemi’s fascination with patterns, mapping and the representation of space and time.

Al Hashemi describes one of the main ideas behind

She also admits to an ‘obsession’ with patterns that comes through in this series as well as in many of her other works.

Urban Phantasmagoria as showing ‘not what is, Al Hashemi worked with the United Arab Emirates

but rather what could be.’ Photography has since

bear no relationship to the photographs of Urban

(UAE) satellite center to acquire the images used in this

its earliest days been associated with both realism

Phantasmagoria. However, Al Hashemi sees

series and comments that she enjoyed the ‘challenge’

and manipulation and is thus a fitting medium for

Metamorphic as a ‘continuation’ of that earlier

of explaining her project and the opportunity to

explorations and documentations of change in

work as it references mapping, landscape and the

collaborate with an organization that was not used to

space, time and landscape. Urban Phantasmagoria

relationship between the natural and manmade.

receiving requests from artists. She sees collaboration

also considers the relationship between manmade

The artwork combines stained glass and metal mesh

as central to her process. According to Al Hashemi

and natural environments, and the tensions that can

and the colours of the glass reflect elements in the

‘I do not limit myself to certain media or skills’ and

exist between these two states. The photographs in

topography of Saadiyat Island, where the Louvre Abu

by collaborating with others she can expand the

the series feature both urban and desert landscapes

Dhabi is located, specifically the sand and water of and

boundaries of her practice to incorporate a broad

and several show the sometimes uneasy balance

around the island. The mesh itself is the reinforcing

range of media and styles.

between the two that is visible in the UAE. Sand dunes

steel ubiquitous in construction projects throughout

encroach on the edges of suburban housing tracts

the UAE, thus providing a manmade juxtaposition to

For the photographs in Urban Phantasmagoria Al

while vast resort complexes shape the ebb and flow

the earthly elements reflected by the stained glass.

Hashemi focused on the idea of mapping and urban

of the Arabian Gulf. The rapid pace and large scale

It is almost as though the sculpture forms the logical

design as concepts underpinning the images. She

of development in UAE has frequently been noted

conclusion to the explorations of space, place and

also admits to an ‘obsession’ with patterns that

as placing the manmade in tension with the natural,

time begun in Urban Phantasmagoria.

comes through in this series as well as in many of her

or perhaps with the traditional, and Al Hashemi’s

other works. The photographs in the series have a

photographs, with their disorienting appearance,

Zeinab Al Hashemi is a Dubai born and based

kaleidoscopic quality and this distortion sometimes

nod to that tension.

conceptual artist and designer specializing in site-

completely abstracts the landscape, leaving little

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specific installation and spatial art. She received her

reference for the viewer other than color and pattern.

One of Al Hashemi’s most recent projects,

BA in Multimedia Design from Zayed University and

In other images, however, signal landmarks such as the

Metamorphic (2017), was designed for the exhibition

has exhibited widely in the UAE and internationally.

Burj Al Arab or Burj Khalifa form a repetitive hallmark

Co-Lab: Contemporary Art and Savoir-faire, one of

She is represented by Cuadro Gallery and is currently

that both grounds the viewer in space and time while

the inaugural exhibitions of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

engaged in the development of a public art project

expanding our horizons through the destabilizing

This sculptural installation at first glance seems to

in the UAE.

Abu Dhabi 2: Coast Collision (2016), archival inkjet print Next Page: Al Ain: Mirage (2015), archival inkjet print Dubai 2 (2013), archival inkjet print

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PROFILE Images - Courtesy of the artist and the Third Line Gallery. Writer - Kevin Mitchell, architect and educator.

Tarek Al-Ghoussein: Al-Sawaber Dwellings as the expression of those who dwell within them Less that 10 years after oil was discovered in Kuwait

Although Erickson provided a novel architectural

in 1938 the first shipment was exported, and the

solution that was well considered in many respects,

proceeds were used to fund state-sponsored

Tarek Al-Ghoussein’s photographs of Al-Sawaber

programs that provide free healthcare, education

reveal that the complex now stands derelict and

and housing for citizens. The country also invested

in a state of disrepair. Asseel Al-Ragam, in The

in an extraordinary urbanization project, and the

Destruction of Modernist Heritage :The Myth of

first master plan for Kuwait City was completed

Al-Sawaber 2,provides a comprehensive account

by Minoprio, Spencely and Macfarlane in 1952.

of the problems that plagued the project from the

Although aspirations were ambitious in scope and

beginning and explains that the proposed density was

scale, the approach to planning from the 1950s

never achieved because only 524 of the proposed 900

onward has resulted in sprawling low-density

apartment units were built. Additionally, commercial

neighborhoods that demand dependence on

enterprises such as restaurants and stores were not

the automobile and necessitate ever-expanding

integrated ,and Erickson’s original proposal was

traffic networks.

impaired by the omission of a number of key features when the project was handed over to the contractor.

Fulfilling the government’s aim of providing

home. In Human Space, O.F. Bollnow examines the meaning of “homeliness” and considers how it could

adequate housing for Kuwaiti citizens has proven

Beyond the compromises made during the initial

challenging .According to Sharifah AlShalfan ,the

implementation of Al-Sawaber, the fact that the space

authority responsible for evaluating applications

provided in the apartments was only one-third of

‘Thus the dwelling becomes the expression of

and providing housing faced a backlog of

that provided in single-family homes and the lack of

the individual who dwells in it, a piece of this

approximately 19,000 applications in1.1980

a designated diwaniya – even though distinct formal

individual which has become a space .So it can

be created:

The inability to keep pace with demand and

and informal living areas were provided – imposed

only be inhabitable to the extent that the person

recognition that higher densities were desirable

constraints. The limited space, at least relative to

in question knows how to dwell in it .One must be

due to increasing land values in urban areas led

single-family homes, and the absence of a dedicated

able to sense this even in a strange dwelling .The

the government to consider alternatives to the

diwaniya not only affected usability, but also likely

objects in it must be melted into the life of the

single-family home .Canadian architect Arthur

impacted the resident’s perception of how they may

dweller by the practice of being looked after]…[ .

Erickson was invited to submit a proposal for

be viewed within their broader social networks.

the dwelling must not only express an individual,

the Al-Sawaber area in Kuwait City in 1977 and

but at the same time reflect a long past, if it is to

he responded by designing a series of stepped

Regardless of the shortcomings, Al-Sawaber did

housing blocks arranged to form open linear green

fulfill a rentier bargain between state and citizen by

spaces between buildings.

providing housing; however, the abandonment by

Al-Sawaber’s spaces failed as residents could not

residents reveals that the housing never became

dwell within them. Bollnow maintains that the

1 S. AlShafan, The Right to Housing in Kuwait: An Urban Injustice in a Socially Just System, Research Paper, Kuwait Programme on Development, Governance and Globalisation in the Gulf States. London: LSE Department of Government, 2013. p. 8.

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Al-Sawaber provides a context for extending the exploration of themes related to transience and belonging.

2 Asseel Al-Ragam. The Destruction of Modernist Heritage: The Myth of Al-Sawaber. Journal of Architectural Education 67:2. pp. 243–252.

give us a feeling of security and stability in life’3.

objects in a dwelling become part of the life of the 3 O.F. Bullnow. Human Space. trans. C. Shuttleworth. London: Hyphen Press, 2011. p. 145.

From the series Al Sawaber (2015 - 2017) Digital print 30 x 40 cm Archival pigment print

dweller by being looked after, and these objects – in addition to expressing

units and the individual expressions intended to provide the security and stability

an individual – provide security and stability. Al-Ghoussein’s photographs

essential for “homeliness.”

present spaces and objects that were once looked after and, rather than being melted into the life of the dwellers, were left behind. The spaces and

Al-Ghoussein’s framing of the interior heightens the tension between the

objects have perhaps been forgotten by the families that once lived in the

standardized apartment and personalized treatment, and results in subtly

apartments but, although they no longer form part of the history of the family,

ironic images that reveal idiosyncratic attempts to make an undesirable dwelling

spaces and objects nevertheless remain part of the past of Al-Sawaber and

inhabitable. Landscapes are common in the wall treatments throughout

reveal intertwined histories of individuals, families and government-sponsored

Al-Sawaber, whether in the form of fairy-tale castles against pink skies or floral-

initiatives to create a community that ultimately proved to be uninhabitable.

patterned prints. In more elaborate examples, such as Al Sawaber 0282, an oddly scaled bird inhabits a maple forest complete with falling leaves that have turned

While Al-Ghoussein’s images from Al-Sawaber examine abandoned spaces

from green to yellow and red at the end of summer; although the telephone

and objects, the photographs neither aestheticize the decay that results from

jack remains concealed under a faux forest floor, the electrical outlet remains

neglect nor dispassionately document found conditions. At first glance there

as a chrome-plated reminder that the reality of Al-Sawaber is inescapable.

are similarities between the scenes from Al-Sawaber and Robert Polidori’s photographs of the interiors in cities like Beirut, Pripyat, Chernobyl and New

The proliferation of simulated landscapes throughout the apartments in

Orleans. The richly textured images of environments where decomposition has

Al-Sawaber is curious in light of the fact that Erickson’s master plan included a

been set in motion by catastrophe or conflict reveal the care taken by Polidori

large park-like space that extended throughout the project. However, there was

to locate and compose vivid scenes of damage and deterioration. In contrast,

no provision for private outdoor space beyond the small covered balconies that

rather than focusing on making images that appear as painterly vignettes,

resulted in the distinctive façade. Al-Ghoussein’s images of wall surfaces reveal

Al-Ghoussein considers the relationship between the non-descript apartment

desires to create a home that perceptually extended beyond the constricted

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Wallpapers from the series Al Sawaber Digital print 100 x 150 cm Archival pigment print

space of the apartment and subsumed both interior and an imagined exterior

knowledge of Kuwait is evident in the choice of subject matter, as well as

within the private realm.

in the manner in which spaces and objects are presented. The project may seem to be a departure from Al-Ghoussein’s earlier work but, when viewed in

The objects collected from the apartments provide an intimate impression

relation to considerations of what constitutes “home”, Al-Sawaber provides

of the lives of former inhabitants. By decontextualizing the pieces and

a context for extending the exploration of themes related to transience

isolating them in individual photographs, Al-Ghoussein emphasizes their

and belonging.

particular – and often peculiar – qualities. Abandonment of the objects calls into question claims of importance for those who once possessed them.

Al-Sawaber will likely be demolished in the near future. Al-Ghoussein’s

Even though the pieces were discarded, they nevertheless reveal part of

work is therefore timely as it provides insight into the lives once lived in

Al-Sawaber’s complex history as they were presumably, to use Bollnow’s

Al-Sawaber and serves as a record of an important part of the Gulf’s recent

formulation, ‘melted into the life of the dweller’ in the past.

past. More significantly, the Al-Sawaber project presents spaces and objects with a sense of irony that never devolves into condescension, resulting

Al-Ghoussein’s Al-Sawaber project is personal, not in the sense of an

in perceptive depictions of how dwellings become the expression of the

immediate connection to the building complex or its previous inhabitants,

individuals who dwell within them.

but in terms of understanding what one is looking at when looking at what

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remains of one of the Gulf’s few attempts to create high-density government-

This essay was originally published in the e-catalogue for the Al-Sawaber

funded housing. The vast array of spaces and objects within Al-Sawaber

exhibition at The Third Line (November 5, 2017 - February 14, 2018). The

make it a rich site of investigation for any photographer, but Al-Ghoussein’s

essay is reprinted with permission of the author and The Third Line.

From the series Al Sawaber (2015-2017) Digital print 100 x 150 cm Archival pigment print

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Interiors from the series Al Sawaber (2015-2017) Digital print 21 x 28 cm Archival pigment print

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Objects from the series Al Sawaber (2015-2017) Digital print 21 x 28 cm Archival pigment print

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NEW MEDIA Images - Courtesy of the artist and Athr Gallery.

Mohammed Al Faraj: Sofia, The Turtle and Death to TV, Long Live the Image Video installation, 2018 This digital installation sets up a configuration of screens into a 3-dimensional box, onto which 3 distinct narratives are diffused. The work sets to blur the lines between factual footage and fiction in a bid to raise questions around our absorption of information through channels that we are exposed to on a daily basis. The use of visual material, audio, space, colour and light all contribute to the experiential dynamic of this body of work. The 3 films are presented in a sort of factual gradient, from factually correct, to partly fictional and finally a cinematic montage of images interlaced with presumed narratives. The first segment, titled Sofia, sets the scene of a contemporary TV program around recent news regarding a robot called Sofia who was granted Saudi citizenship. This footage is then juxtaposed with real life footage of a stateless people.

The work sets to blur the lines between factual footage and fiction in a bid to raise questions around our absorption of information through channels that we are exposed to on a daily basis. a burning TV in a deserted location. A man stands

The second segment, titled The Turtle, looks back at

before the camera, with a TV in place of his head,

1980’s footage of a 100 year old turtle being released

pointing a gun to it. As he sets off the gun, birds fly

into open waters. The incredibly moving scene is later

free. What follows is a sequence of disjointed footage

juxtaposed with the ruthless slaughter of an elderly

which pans out until it stops before a mirror reflecting

turtle by Saudi men in a bit to eat it. The turtle moves

back the camera as it zooms into the lens.

across the screens, whimsically floating through space. This body of work pivots on notions of perspective,

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The third and final segment, titled Death to TV, Long

both literal and metaphorical, where the fragmentation

Live the Image, fills the whole installation’s screens in

of the image echoes a wider statement about the

its entirety. It starts with a black screen with but the

diffusion and reliability of news and information we

sound of a fire burning. The screen later elucidates

have grown so reliant on.

Sofia, Video Installation view

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The Turtle, Video Installation view

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Death to TV, Long Live the Image Video Installation view

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SERIES Artist - From Kuwait, lives and works in Chicago Images - Courtesy of the artist.

Farah Salem: In-Between the Skyline of Kuwait City Behind the lens of In-Between the Skyline of Kuwait City is documentation over a five-year period of Kuwait City as a meditative process. As a creative, my mind constantly flashing with ideas and thoughts. However, walking down the city streets has helped me find inspiration, allowing me to dynamically flow with my thoughts as I moved with the motions of the city. I have consciously witnessed moments that were often considered insignificant, yet to me, looking beyond the rising skyscrapers that have taken up space in our modern definition of urban life in Kuwait City, I capture the raw experience of the city. With its constant flow of movements, events, multiculturalism and realities, intimately merging with mundane moments of lonesome, solitude, craftsmen’s activities, decrementing architecture and customs. Most importantly, this work is a reflection of my experience as a woman going on such an adventure. Questioning the traditions of women’s locations in the photographed context, through stolen frames from this experience. The work’s intention is to spark questions and start a dialogue about the social constructs we live in and adhere to.

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Salem completed a BA in Visual Communications in Kuwait, where she had

into developing more conceptual work, reflecting on this journey on the

dreams of traveling, exploring cultures and freely expressing herself. At

backstreets of Kuwait City, while preparing to embark on completing an MA

the age of 18, all she had was a car and camera, and she began to explore

in Art Therapy & Counselling at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

her city like a traveling stranger. Five years later, her art process evolved

She is the 2017 Laureate of the International Womens Photo Award

Pray before the dawn, because they always fly away From the series In-Between the Skyline of Kuwait City (2010-2015) print on unstretched canvas 33 x 49 cm

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Previous page: Kuwaiti Spring from the series In-Between the Skyline of Kuwait City (2010-2015) print on unstretched canvas 29 x 45 cm

Red Scripts from the series In-Between the Skyline of Kuwait City (2010-2015) print on unstretched canvas 29 x 45 cm

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Orange Mist from the series In-Between the Skyline of Kuwait City (2010-2015) print on unstretched canvas 33 x 49 cm

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SERIES Artist - From Palestine, lives and works in Abu Dhabi Images - Courtesy of the artist.

Joanna Barakat: Imposter Series I am an imposter. My cultural and national identities are woven from the threads of nostalgic stories, none of which are my own. Having left Palestine as an infant, I have always felt like a foreigner in my native land. I reconstructed my identity with snapshots of what my story could have been by inserting myself as a child into the backdrop of daily Palestinian life. A few of the original photographs of Palestinian street scenes were shot during the filming of my final project for Central Saint Martins, a film about the physical and psychological borders faced by Palestinians that was later shown at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art. The rest of the photographs were taken while doing research for my master’s dissertation about Palestinian street art for the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Instead of another tale from the diaspora, a new narrative emerges from these manipulated photographs restoring a sense of indisputable belonging.

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Through various mediums and techniques, Joanna Barakat’s work is predominantly

Her family moved to the United States from Jerusalem when she was a year

portraits that explore how we interpret and understand our identity while

old when her father decided to open his ancient art gallery in Beverly Hills. Her

expressing her feelings about the current situation in Palestine and how that

deep understanding of art and her own visual language emerged from having

affects the construction of her own cultural identity. Interested in alternative

grown up surrounded by art from all ancient civilizations. She moved to London

forms of communication, she brings together elements of photography,

for university where she did her BA at Central Saint Martins and her MA at the

Palestinian embroidery and street art to challenge and question collective

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is now living

ideas and stereotypes using a reimagined contemporary Palestinian aesthetic.

in Abu Dhabi. @joanna.barakat.art

Imposter in Palestine, from the Imposter series (2017)

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Posing in front of Wall next to Qalandia Checkpoint from the Imposter series (2017)

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Standing Next to Crates from the Imposter Series (2017)

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From top: Selling Grapes in Khalil, from the Imposter series (2017); Pulling up Sleeve in Ramallah, from the Imposter series (2017) The Arabic graffiti translated into English reads: ‘the right of return and autonomous decision is the right for every free Palestinian.’

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Eating Ice Cream From the Imposter series (2017)

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SERIES Artist - From Palestine, lives and works in Los Angeles. Images - Courtesy of the artist.

Alexandra Nazari: Conceptual Strategies Through a practice that utilizes photography, sculpture, collage and drawing, my work employs a myriad of formal and conceptual strategies in order to explore deas of loss, accumulation, fragmentation and displacement. Central to my work is a kind of disorientation: of scale, perspective, time, space and place. Through these means of distortion, my images and objects present the familiar yet produce the unnamable and the unplaceable. Through the repetition of these and other motifs, a surreal and heightened sense of contradiction and ambiguity begins to emerge. This uncertainty and displacement of the familiar in turn creates a kind of amnesia, a forgetfulness of the senses that ultimately demands the presence of the viewer.

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Moon, why do you look at me like that? Archival pigment print (2016) variable size

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Shell, Archival pigment print (2016)

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The Glass Ceiling, Glossy engineer print, Archival pigment print (2016) variable size

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The mirror doesn’t lie, Archival pigment print (2016) variable size

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Self Portrait, Archival pigment print (2016) variable size

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SERIES Artist - From Lebanon, lives and works in New York City. Images - Courtesy of the artist.

Lara Atallah: Mediterranean Coordinates Named after the Mediterranean sea’s coordinates, this body of work consists of Polaroids made along southern European and western Asian coastlines, along with sun prints made from pebbles and small rocks, culled from the different beaches that were photographed. The Polaroids were deliberately damaged in the first 30 seconds of their development. Devoid of any human presence, these distorted landscapes depict the sea as a somber place. Bordered by over 20 countries, the Mediterranean is commonly perceived as a place for recreation and leisure. Of late, the sea has become the only viable route to safer shores for the many refugees fleeing war zones aboard hazardous over-packed rubber boats. In many cases, these boats never make it safely to their destination, resulting in dozens of deaths at a time. For those who survive, the Mediterranean has come to represent the stage of a perilous journey, while for others, it is a final resting place.

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Atallah is a New York-based artist and writer. Her practice is informed by

from Parsons The New School for Design, and is a recipient of the Khaled

her interest in the political nature of landscape and the power it holds

Ead Samawi Scholarship. Her work has been exhibited in the US and

to reshape our perception of borders. She holds a MFA in Photography


Untitled, Pebbles #2, #1, #8 2017 Sun Print 12.7 x 17.8 cm

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From right: Untitled, Mythimna #2 (2017) Polaroid print 8.98 x 10.80 cm; Untitled, Marseille #5 (2018) Polaroid print 8.98 x 10.80 cm; Untitled, Beirut #2 (2016) Polaroid print 8.98 x 10.80 cm

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From top right: Untitled, Barcelona #1. Untitled, Beirut #11 (bottom) Untitled, Milos #1, Untitled, Palermo #5 (2017) Polaroid print 8.98 x 10.80 cm

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SERIES Artist - From Bahrain, lives and works in Dubai. Images - Courtesy of the artist.

Ali Shehabi: Middle East to the World Ali Shehabi is an emerging photographer based out of Dubai. Shehabi’s interest in photography was first triggered by exploring other artists’ and photographers’ portfolios that were shared online. In 2015, he began experimenting with an analog camera his mother had from the 80’s, which he still uses today, and was quickly inspired to pursue an education in photography. Shehabi moved to Japan to study art, and following his experience of living in a culture he found to have little perception of the Middle East, he was inspired to document his personal experience of the region in a contemporary context, focusing on its youth culture, and his own memories and sense of nostalgia. Shehabi’s work repeats motifs that have particular meaning for him, drawn from personal memories. Flowers have a strong presence in the artist’s work for instance, as his father at one point owned a flower shop, and retro clothing make a frequent appearance, as Shehabi’s mother kept a lot of 80’s fashions that have influenced his visual vocabulary.

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Ali Shehabi was born in a small village in Bahrain, and moved with his

the in , Japan. His recent work focuses on layering contemporary cultural

parents to Dubai at the age of two. As a young adult he studied engineering

documentation in the Middle East with imagery drawn from nostalgia and

for a time before transitioning to a formal education in photography at

personal memory.

From the series Middle East to the World (2017-2018)

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From the series Middle East to the World (2017-2018)

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From the series Middle East to the World (2017-2018)

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From the series Middle East to the World (2017-2018)

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SERIES Artist - From Saudi Arabia, lives and works in Jeddah. Images - Courtesy of the artist.

Majid Angawi: Until Dawn Majid Angawi’s project Until Dawn aims to represent the night as a spiritual journey, divided into three chapters: night as a Situation, night as a Friend, and night as a Container. For the idea of night as a Situation, Angawi presents a narrative, where the night offers a personal journey through emotions of loneliness, fear, growing familiarity and eventual calm. Night as a Friend is conveyed through the artist’s reflection on growing to see the night as a wise and giving friend. And finally, night as a Container presents the notion of one taking on the form of the night, and eventually becoming it.

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Majed Angawi is a young photographer from Jeddah. His passion for

one with Arabian Wings ‘Special Edition 2’, ‘Al Hangar’ and more. Majid’s

photography started in 2010 when he established his company in visual

interests are now focused on documentary photography and street

production SARD24 in 2016. He participated in the “Young Saudi Artists’

photography and the effects it has on society with the classic formats of

exhibition in 2015 and exhibited his works in number of art exhibitions,


The night falls and a yearning within my heart is awakened. A longing for the dark takes over me and I am at once engulfed in its black cloak and glowing with the light within my soul.

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The night comes back calling for you, like a dear friend returning from a journey, bearing gifts from far away lands.

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The night is a loyal and loving companion. Should you walk away, it patiently awaits your return. And once you are back, it embraces you to give you of itself once more;

Drown in the ocean of the night and you are transformed into a finless fish drifting away in its dynamic current, moved by a will that is not your own.

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You are captivated by its presence.. morphing into its shape, sculpted by the darkness from every corner of your being.

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And as dusk makes way to dawn, your heart breaks as you prepare to bid the night farewell yet again.. Now the sun rises, and it all disappears, like nothing ever was.

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SERIES Artists - Sultan from Saudi Arabia, lives and works in Riyadh - Osama from Syria, lives and works in Minneapolis. Images - Courtesy of the artists.

Sultan bin Fahad and Osama Esid: Sukoon {sukoon. Noun. (plural sukuns) A diacritic (ْ‫ )ـ‬used in the Arabic abjad to mark the absence of a vowel} The most authentic dialogue we have is that between our conscience and our choices. Seen through the every day arbitrary decisions that are taken, it is the truest reflection of what consoles us and what motivates us. It is these discourses that shape the direction of our lives, individual and collective. And it is the intersections of these journeys that shape our composite consciousness and the narratives of our societies. Triggering memories of a recent history, these photographs of symbolic cultures reflect the space between human social interaction and our faith, asking us to pause for a moment and reflect on our own journey. Sukoon is a collaboration between Bin Fahad and Esid

Sultan bin Fahad

at the same time in his father’s tailor shop. In 1994, he decided to leave Syria

Bin Fahad is an abstract painter, sculpture and a photographer inspired by

and travel to Paris, and in 1996 he moved to the US, where he continues to live

memories and ritual. He uses mixed media and natural materials, working

and work in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He developed the majority of his series in

with canvases of varying shapes and sizes. He was born in Riyadh in 1971 and

Cairo between 2003 and 2005, which later on formed a mobile gallery across

loved painting as a child, then studied engineering and switched to a degree in

Spain titled A Play on Representation; The Egyptian Experiment, 2007-2012. Esid

Management at King Saud University. Sultan obtained his Masters degree from

held solo exhibitions and participated in collective ones internationally including:

the University of San Francisco and grew his interest in art while there, starting

in Spain, France, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the UAE. He

his art collection and frequenting museums and fairs.

also gives workshops in the US and the Middle East. He has participated in international art fairs, such as Art Dubai, Art Hong Kong, Art Shanghai and Paris

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Osama Esid

Photo. The Tropen Museum in Amsterdam acquired a selection of his works for

Born in Damascus, Esid studied at the Technical Institute of Damascus, working

their permanent collection.

Sultan Bin Fahad and Osama Esid, Directions from the series Sukoon (2017) Archival pigment print, 76 x 94 cm

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Sultan Bin Fahad and Osama Esid, Directions from the series Sukoon (2017) Archival pigment print, 32 x 94 cm

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Sultan Bin Fahad and Osama Esid, Directions from the series Sukoon (2017) Archival pigment print, 86 x 103 cm

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Sultan Bin Fahad and Osama Esid, Directions from the series Sukoon (2017) Archival pigment print, 108 x 97 cm

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BOOK Images - Courtesy of artist. Writer - Janet Bellotto, artist, curator and educator.

Ali Bin Thalith: Truly, Madly, Deeply Diving Deep With Underwater Photography Growing up in a traditional pearling family from

Some of Bin Thalita’s most unusual, or certainly

Dubai, Ali Bin Thalith had an early affinity for the

unexpected photographs are of land mammals

sea. Both his father and grandfather were traditional

swimming, as seen from under the water. In the

pearl divers—who would make three minute long

UAE Bin Thalita discovered a group of Arabian

dives with a nose clip and finger protectors—

sand gazelles swimming, with their thin legs

scoured the sea floor for oysters cultivating their

churning up the water as they cross shallows

prized iridescent pearls. For Bin Thalith it is the

between islands. At a tourist resort in the Andaman

variety of fish and other underwater creatures

Islands Bin Thalita found a most unique elder Asian

that he diligently searches for and as he says “To

elephant who enjoys swimming, again capturing

be among all that life makes me feel completely

a ‘fish eyes’ point of view!

euphoric. It is a spiritual attachment, as if I were born to the sea.” With his strong connection to

In addition to quickly establishing himself as one

the sea, he captures the vividly colorful beauty of

of the best underwater photographers, Bin Thalith

underwater life.

has been very active in the world of international photography. While studying for his diplomas in

In his new book Truly, Madly, Deeply, Ali Bin

Photojournalism and Documentary Photography,

Thalita shares his deep passion for underwater

he befriended Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh

photography as well as for the actual fish and

Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum,

creatures he has found during his dives at locations

who shares his intense passion for photography.

throughout the world. In the volume he includes his

When Sheikh Hamdan established his Hamdan

most striking underwater photographs as well as

International Photography Award (HIPA), he

details on the variety of creatures he has captured,

chose Bin Thalita to run it as HIPA’s Secretary

including their scientific names and peculiar traits,

General. Subsequently in 2014, in recognition for

such as of shrimp that live off hosts that they

his role at HIPA, Bin Thalita was the first Emirati

symbiotically also protect from prey. Some of his

or Arab to be honoured with the International

most poetic photographs capture the movements

Photographic Council’s Professional Photographic

of schools of fish swirling together in coordinated

Leadership Award.

circular motion or mammals like elephants treading

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It is these stunning photographs of Bin Thalith that become the new prized works of art that display the infinite beauty of nature.

water. Culled from his archive of photographs

Through his beautifully composed photographs of

assembled over many years, readers of his book

underwater worlds, Bin Thalith subtly conveys his

are treated to underwater views from some of the

own profound feeling for the sea. Within the sea,

he calls the ‘poetry of water’ at work. By capturing

very best diving locations in the world, from the

through its diversity and beauty, he sees divinity

not only the visible, but also what is invisible, Bin

Sulawesi islands of Indonesia to Sipadan, a remote

at work. This makes him revere the sea as being

Thalith’s photographs visually communicate this

Malaysian island and Cebu in the Philippines.

spiritual, where you can see and experience what

soul of the sea.

Asian Elephant, Elephas maximus, From the series Truly, Madly, Deeply, Andaman Islands, India An Asian Elephant swimming in shallow water. Asian Elephants are the most unexpected animals to see swimming inthe ocean. In Asia, elephants have been tamed and trained to work for thousands of years. This particular domesticated Asian elephant named “Rajan� is over 60 years old and seems to have found enjoyment in swimming with tourists as part of his retirement plan.

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Previous page: Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt Below: A red lionfish, Pterois volitans Next page: Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

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PROJECT SPACE Top left to right: Alya Osman Freedom (2016). Nasreen Shaikh Jamal Al Lail, Memories of the Soul Left to right: Huda Ali, Confidence, from the series Projections (2017). Sarra’a Abdulaziz A Woman Called Freedom (2017) Book Cover: Jana Ghalayini, Crazy Flowers (2017) silkscreen on chiffon

Banat Collective: In the Middle of It All Banat collective is a creative community made in response to the lack of artist

and constructed by centuries of

spaces and discussions about womanhood in the Middle East and North Africa

cultural and social tradition.

region. However, we aim to be inclusive of all nationalities and genders to promote peace and balance within our community. Our platform aims to support creatives

Globally, these rules and norms

seeking to produce, collaborate and share their work with the world.

can be seen disrupting the already fragile path of growth

In a time where constant media misrepresentation is in our news feeds, the collective

with unattainable expectations.

seeks to rethink the ways which we perceive women of colour through showcasing

Yet despite the many struggles

contemporary art, poetry and writings through online content, print, exhibition-

faced, the trials of womanhood

making and events. We believe that art is the most ideal and useful tool to spread

uncover happiness, resilience

awareness that goes beyond geographical borders.

and independence. This book serves as a reminder to people around the world, that even through it all,

Discussions of intersectionality, feminism, gender and identity politics from a

women are breaking societal expectations and creating their own identity. In this

‘middle-eastern’ perspective is becoming increasingly relevant and important. Banat

book, we show artists who are reclaiming their younger selves through honest

collective offers a space for discussion and creation and to address these questions

and compelling works of art that should inspire you as well. In the Middle of

and issues that course through our everyday lives. Social Media: @banatcollective

It All brings together artists from the Middle East & North Africa who tell their

About In The Middle of it All

today. The book features photography, poetry, illustrations, stories, collages,

For young girls, ‘coming of age’ is a phenomenon that occurs in both the private

mixed media and audio that narrate the intricacies of growing up through their

and public sphere, making the journey of growth difficult and demanding.

own personal lens through 5 chapters and 31 artists and writers. Available to

Often overlooked in the Arab world, girls’ rites of passage have been framed

purchase on www.banatcollective.com

stories and remember moments that are the core of who they have become

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