LONDON.- Al Braithwaite, the provocative young creator of Museum No. 1: Hizbollahs Caviar, set out in 2002 with big ambitions: he wanted to bridge the gap opened by warfare using the common language of art and humanity. Having sold his possessions, he left London with an idealistic group of artists to live in the Middle East.
Six Years Distilled into One Piece of Art (4kg of World)
Six years working and travelling in Turkey, Iran, Kurdistan, Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Britain, and the United States have fertilised, nurtured, and given birth to this extraordinary, immaculately-presented, and conceptually-rich response to a patch of history dominated on many fronts by War on Terror anxiety (and what Braithwaite calls Junk Bulletin Hypertension leading to multiple strains of Congenital Mistrust, Media Obesity and Flagburning Bloodlust). The nub of the leatherbound tome a kind of provocative fusion of found texts, drawings, bullets, prayer beads and photographs seems to cast new light on both sides of a political thoroughfare, and create a thought-provoking thrust through the various intractable layers of conflict. The unique juxtaposition of ideas, the sharpness and clarity of the artists vision, and the thousand-mile quirkiness of the assemblages made from rubbish and found objects are what distinguish the collection.
In addition to Museum No. 1: Hizbollahs Caviar the limited edition artist book, Braithwaite will also showcase a selection of other artworks in his fascinating repertoire of sapele mahogany cabinets, submachine guns, trapped worms, and enlarged kid drawings. His ascendancy as the trickster of art from the Middle East is fast being cemented.
Conceived in the style of a double-take Orientalist treasure trove, the work augments that tradition with a fresh gamut of explosive rhetoric, notable for its un-bigotted, un-stale, un-flinching, un-compromised, pacifying yet revolutionary, content. The Middle East art scene could be heralding a rising star its own Joseph Beuys.
Born in West Germany in 1979, Al Braithwaite studied Human and Physical Geography at Oxford where he won the Shell Prize for his immigration thesis and the Henry Oliver Beckitt Prize for his film dissertation. Braithwaite travelled extensively in the Middle East in 2002 with Off Screen, a nomadic collective of artists. The collective covered Iran, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, exhibiting and collaborating with local artists as they went. Braithwaite co-authored a book Off Screen: Four young artists in the Middle East. (Booth-Clibborn Editions 2004). Braithwaite has exhibited internationally; in Tehran, Muscat, Amman, London, New York and Amsterdam. Exhibitions include FBI and Chocolate: A Public Installation, Penn Station, Baltimore, MD, USA (2007), Off Screen: Axis of Evil at Briggs Robinson Gallery, New York City, NY (2004), Deepression (2004) and Deeper Depression (2006) at Atbin Gallery, Zangar Gallery and Zahad Gallery, Tehran, Iran (2004; 2006), Off Screen: New Blood at Orfali Gallery, Amman, Jordan (2003). Braithwaites work is in collections including the British Council, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA) and the Royal Jordanian Collection.
Rose Issa Projects is located at 269 kensington High street, London W 8 6NA.