News / Arts & Entertainment

    Contemporary Arab Art at NYC’s New Museum

    Arab Art Featured at NYC’s New Museumi
    X
    August 22, 2014 2:10 AM
    The first museum-wide show of Arab art in New York City is spread out over five floors at the New Museum, and exhibits work by more than 45 contemporary artists. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the show.
    Carolyn Weaver

    The first museum-wide show of Arab art in New York City, spread out over five floors at the New Museum, exhibits works by more than 45 artists from 12 countries. Many are animated by a documentary impulse, seeking out new ways to represent realities, but with a “critical approach to image-making,” said associate curator Natalie Bell, who helped organize the show with New Museum artistic director Massimiliano Gioni.

    “We found that a lot of artists were thinking critically about whether images are capable of conveying a truth, whether images are transparent, and trying to create works that could convey these ideas," Bell said.

    "Here and Elsewhere," as the show is called, opens in the museum's lobby with a photographic mural satirically portraying an ultraluxe, virtually gold-plated hotel in the Arab world. It's by the GCC, a group of artists who take their name from the Gulf Cooperation Council.

    Many of the works on display point only indirectly at social and political realities, however. Photographs by Hrair Sarkissian of bland, empty city streets and squares in his native Syria, spaces where public executions were held, seem to ask the question: How did what happened here leave no trace?

    Questions of war, immigration and displacement appear throughout the show, as in Moroccan-born artist Bouchra Khalili’s huge videos of maps traced by immigrants and refugees. A film, Infiltrators, by Ramallah-based Khaled Jarrar, documents furtive attempts by Palestinians to bypass the wall that barricades Israel. Jarrar was scheduled to visit New York in July to take part in a panel discussion at the New Museum, but was denied permission by Israeli authorities to travel from the West Bank.

    In a video by Lebanese artist Mounira Al Solh, the camera pans over parts of a lamb, slaughtered for a feast, as the narrator considers whether trauma can ever be truly "registered" in the moment, or filmed without exploitation. The film is in part about the trauma of being a refugee, inspired by the million or more Syrian refugees now living in Beirut.

    “She’s speaking more poetically about the experience, both linking it to her experience fleeing Beirut for Damascus, during the Lebanese civil war, when she was younger, and also reflecting on her family at that very moment, and these get-togethers they’re having," Bell said.

    The videos of Iranian-born artist Rokni Haerizadeh, in contrast, are fable-like, with animal figures painted over the human protestors in news footage of political demonstrations.

    A sculpture like a tree made of confetti, by Dubai-based artist Hassan Sharif, is constructed of surplus manufactured goods: everything from copper wires to string to cut-up plastic shoes. Qalandia 2087, a tabletop city model by Hebron-born Wafa Hourani, is a utopian vision of a Palestinian refugee village.

    “While it looks very realistic, as a kind of architectural model, it’s also very simple.  And that’s something that interested us also, because it’s a way of reminding us that art can be made with very simple materials," Bell said.

    The work of Moroccan artist Mohamed Larbi Rahali is another example. Since 1984, he has drawn, painted and created tiny collages on the insides of matchboxes, a project he calls Omri (My Life).

    Most of the artists in the show have not previously exhibited in New York. Bell said many are indifferent to commercial art markets, or of no marketable interest to them. Many also reject the notion of themselves as “Arab” artists. 

    The huge size of the New Museum show underlines another point, she added: art from the Arab world today is so diverse that it resists all attempts to categorize it.  

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Nielsen's, Sina Weibo Team Up for Closer Look at Chinese Social Media

    US-based rating agency reaches deal with China's Twitter-like service to gauge marketing effectiveness on platform which has more than 200 million users

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Border Crossings: Bannersi
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 04, 2016 1:07 PM
    Singer and Songwriter, Michael Nelson better known as "Banners" sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London in Studio 4 to talk and perform songs from his debut self titled EP.

    Singer and Songwriter, Michael Nelson better known as "Banners" sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London in Studio 4 to talk and perform songs from his debut self titled EP.