“Young artists from countries across the GCC and beyond have united in a ground-breaking exhibition in London.”
Reconnecting Arts is a platform supporting emerging contemporary Middle Eastern creatives. The platform aims to increase the visibility of Arab emerging creatives in the region as well internationally through our exhibitions, features, magazines and workshops. The platform is committed to facilitating cross-cultural dialogue.
Reconnecting Arts presents, TRANSITION a showcase of 42 emerging Middle Eastern Artists reflecting on the ways transition has taken place in their life. Ranging from fine art, calligraphy, sculpture, photography, to video, zines and installation, the artists explore topics and issues that shape the lives of Middle Eastern artists both locally and internationally. This includes the effect of urbanisation as well as displacement, the impact of balancing East and West, embracing faith and the future of the Middle East.
DEFINING THE NARRATIVE.
It is vital to understand that contemporary art from the Middle East and art by Arab artists does not translate into art about the Middle East. Arab contemporary art is a way of expression, where the artists reflect on their individual self.
Emerging artists are now creating work that narrates their own lived experiences, where they challenge, question and consciously manoeuvre dialogue surrounding issues and triumphs that face each one of them. The artists in this exhibition are now taking control of their own representations rejecting the ideas that have been pushed onto them. Unapologetically exploring themes of religion, displacement, language but on the other hand exploring themselves as artists and as humans first of all.
“It is about how these artists have transitioned geographically, artistically or personally. It is about them taking control over their own narratives and expressing themselves freely without assumptions and without being guided as to what sort of art they ‘should be’ creating. We want to be able to celebrate all stories and all backgrounds.”
MERGING GEOGRAPHICAL SPACE.
While Arab artists are often grouped and defined by their ethnicity rather than their work, there is still a need for such segregation due to the art world often being one of inaccessibility to minority artists. In order to occupy spaces as Arab artists, the artists often need to collectively unite.
Arab artists are categorised according to race and geopolitical location amongst other categories and we very rarely see exhibitions that merge polar opposites of the generalised views of the Arab region. We tend to always see one side being of “oil, construction and privilege” or “war, violence and displacement.” To make a point that either side can create work expressing their lived realities without competition and without resentment, both of which is usually implied or even encouraged amongst galleries, curators and artists, In the selection of artists in this exhibition, it was vital in bringing the artists together despite their geographical or other differences.
While some artists may want to focus on the politics or war of their country with every right to do so, another artist from the very same country may want to focus on the optimistic future of it. This exhibition embraces both sides. The idea of the unity of the Middle East within art Is a far stretch but the idea of acceptance of either story on the spectrum is integral in allowing Arab artists to move forward. For now, the exhibition embraces the collective of Arab artists spanning from Syria to Palestine, America to Europe and hybrids to the Gulf.
“We are not politicians or economists – we don’t have that kind of power – but at the community and student level we have to try to engage and break down walls. We want to do something through media and art which is a language that everyone can understand regardless of language, race or religion.”
REJECTION OF EXCLUSIVITY AND THE RISE OF ACCESSIBILITY.
The occupation of both online and offline spaces by emerging Arab artists has flourished rapidly in the last few years, with collectives and platforms nurturing, mentoring and supporting emerging creatives. It is important to distinguish the use of the words artists and creatives. The use of ‘creatives’ is to create an accessible space where those who may not necessarily be ‘artists’ according to their definition or that of the art world, yet they are still creatives who produce visual work.
Emerging artists and creatives do not just want to be passive exhibitors but want to reclaim their own voices and narratives. With so many progressive ideas, innovative work and thought-provoking dialogues, they have still not been given their due recognition. The significance of creating such spaces allows us to encourage and accept alternative methods of creativity from the rise of phone art to the engineer who creates at midnight.
Our selection of artists and creatives bends the rules that are often enforced when selecting artists. We reject the idea of exclusivity but embrace the rise of accessible spaces. for all, no matter their background or position in the art sphere. The importance of these spaces is vital to the growth of the emerging art scene in the region and beyond, more specifically Arab artists no matter where they are geographically or artistically.
A publication was produced showcasing all the artists as well as a few select interviews with some of the artists. The publication can be purchased online. http://reconnectingarts.bigcartel.com
Abdulaziz Yousef / Ahmed Al Jufairi / Alaa AlQedra / Ali Al Sharji / Ali J Al Sammarraie / Amani AlThuwaini / Amna AlBaker / Ayham Jabr / Balqis Alrashed / Bdoor Al-Sudiry/ Eman AlHashemi / Esra Alhamal / Estabrak Al Ansari / Faisal AlKheriji / Farah Altaweel / Fatima Mohammed / Feras Zuhair Nour / Gida Hamam Homad / Heba Abed / Hessa Al-Ali / Inas Al-Soqi / Ishtar Al-Shammari / Jana Ghalayini / Latifa Al Darwish / Maryam Al-Homaid / Mashail Faqeeh / May AlSaad / Meshal Al-Obaidallah / Mohamed Mazloum / Muhannad Shono / Nada Baker / Nasser Al-Attiyah / Om Kalthoom Al-Alawi / Othman Khunji / Rex Choux/ Rasha Dakkak / Rawan AlMahrouqi / Riem Ibrahim / Saliah Bryan / Sara Al-Buainain / Sara Qaed / Shaimaa Alaa / Taqwa Al Naqbi.
The exhibition was a first of its kind where no one narrative was pushed to depict the Middle East. It was about the artists as individuals firstly. Despite the political issues in the GCC and across the world, the artists came together through the mutual passion for art.
More info about the exhibition dates and location here.
The exhibition was kindly supported by Qatar Museums.