Fouad Elkoury, Color snapshot, Place des Canons (Beirut 1982), 2014
Courtesy of the artist; The Third Line, Dubai; and Galerie Tanit, Munich/Beirut

“Here and Elsewhere”
at New Museum, New York

August 11 2014
2:30 PM

At first glance, political and historical matters surrounding the Arab art world seem daunting to encapsulate, and understandably so. Wafa Hourani’s mixed media sculptures, Qalandia 2087 (2009), give us a look into a dioramic perspective of Palestinian refugee camps, with strangely soft lighting peaking through each window and faint sounds and music streaming through the doorways. The simple reaction to homogenize a multifaceted culture is exactly what New Museum’s current major exhibition “Here and Elsewhere” aims to work against. The position of the artist in this midst of uncovering historical narratives creates a dialectic between self, collective memory and present day political discourse. Full disclosure of hidden nuances in personal discovery alongside trauma become hard-hitting and sticky. Representation through images and the status of such in the face of historical and contemporary consciousness is of concern to over forty-five contemporary artists including Ziad Antar, Marwa Arsanios, Fouad Elkoury, GCC, Tanya Habjouqa, Etel Adnan, Basma Alsharif and Akram Zaatari. Borrowing its title from a 1976 film-essay by French directors Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin and Anne-Marie Miéville, the exhibition, along with a number of approaches and styles, highlights the vast differences among inspirations and tribulation in contrasting landscapes inclusive to the Arab World. The show outlines multigenerational observations with a presentation of novelist and painter Etel Adnan’s seventy-three page manuscript The Arab Apocalypse (1989), a critical response to the Lebanese war, and her meditative oil painting series Untitled (1985-2012). A fully illustrated publication will be released alongside the exhibition co-edited by Negar Azimi and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie. (Ashlyn Behrndt)

“Here and Elsewhere” at New Museum, New York, runs through September 29