The Jordanian photographer, that wan on stage in Florence with the project “Occupied Pleasures”, is now one of the artists that are part of the exhibition “Here and Elsewhere” at the New Museum in New York, curated by Massimiliano Gioni, from 16 July to 28 September 2014.
The exhibition brings together more than forty-five artists from over fifteen countries of the Middle East and North Africa, many of whom live and work internationally. The exhibition borrows its title from a 1976 film-essay by French directors Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, and Anne-Marie Miéville. Their film, Ici et ailleurs [Here and Elsewhere], was initially conceived as a pro-Palestinian documentary, but evolved into a complex reflection on the ethics of representation and the status of images as instruments of political consciousness. Taking inspiration from Godard, Gorin, and Miéville’s film—which has had a strong impact on an entire generation of artists in various Arab countries—“Here and Elsewhere” pays particular attention to the position and role of the artist in the face of historical events. A poignant example of personal reportage can be found in the short videos produced and distributed by Abounaddara, a collective of self-taught filmmakers dispersed throughout Syria, as well as in Bouchra Khalili’s video portraits, which reveal the clandestine journeys of migrants seeking to enter Europe. Through different methodologies, an unconventional form of lyrical documentary and personal reportage emerges in works in which the artist is vested with the responsibility of revising dominant historical narratives. For artists like Fouad Elkoury, whose photographs document everyday life in Beirut during and after its fifteen-year Civil War, images are able to relate the nuanced stories of uncertain times.
Artists such as Hrair Sarkissian, Lamia Joreige, and Hassan Sharif undertake experimental approaches to archival material, rewriting personal and collective traumas, and weaving fragments both real and imagined into their work. Sarkissian’s photos of public squares in Syrian cities depict sites similar to the one where, as a child, he witnessed a criminal execution one day in the early morning. Joreige undertakes an archaeology of Lebanon’s recent history in an ongoing work that presents a series of objects and individual testimonies that recall aspects of Lebanon’s various conflicts. Sharif, a pioneering conceptual artist in Dubai, works by accumulating surplus materials and found objects, but in contrast to the archaeological pursuits of other artists, his catalogues of manufactured goods reflect on globalized production and consumption. Ala Younis presents a visual essay, an exhibition within the exhibition, in which artworks, archival materials, and objects from popular culture are combined to analyze the representation of the Palestinian struggle within the historical context of Pan-Arabism.
Many the artists showed in the exhibition, among them the Saudi Ahmed Mater, Yto Barrada, Ziad Antar, Fakhri El Ghezal, Kader Attia, Mona Hatoum and also Tanya Habjouqa with on show some of her personal last works.