MIAMI, FL.- Canvas magazine presents the third and final talk in their Gender, Wars and Chadors panel discussions that focus on Contemporary art from the Middle East. The three internationally renowned artists participating, Ghada Amer, Kader Attia and Akram Zaatari, will be in discussion with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-director, Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects, Serpentine Gallery, London.
Organised by Canvas as a forum for free expression and debates which cannot be aired in the region, this event offers the rare chance to hear these artists in discussion on issues of regional stereotype, censorship and identity.
With the recent global surge in interest in Middle Eastern art from institutions and collectors alike, key questions arise: Can art help shift sensitivities in the Gulf? To what extent can artists combat artistic stereotypes which tend to be over-represented in the West? Where will the next generation of artists be educated? How can artists tackle censorship, when subjects such as nudity and politics are out of bounds in parts of the region?
Born in Cairo in 1963, Ghada Amer moved with her parents to France in 1974, where she began her artistic training 10 years later at Villa Arson, Nice. Amer takes traditional notions of cultural identity, abstraction, and religious fundamentalism and turns them on their heads. In her well-known erotic embroideries, she at once rejects and repudiates first-wave feminist theory that the body must be denied, to prevent victimisation. By depicting explicit sexual acts with the delicacy of needle and thread, their significance assumes a tenderness that simple objectification ignores. Amer currently lives and works in New York and has exhibited at, among others, the Venice Biennale and the Brooklyn Museum.
Kader Attia was born in 1970 into an Algerian family in Paris. He studied at the École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, spending a year at Barcelonas Escola de Artes Applicades. He held his first solo exhibition in 1996 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and has since exhibited regularly throughout the world. Using his own identity as a starting point, Attia tackles the increasingly difficult relationship between Europe and immigrants, particularly those of Islamic faith. Attia gained international recognition at the 50th Venice Biennale (2003) and is one of the winners of the 2009 Abraaj Capital Art Prize. In 2010, Attia will take part in the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship Programme.
Akram Zaatari lives and works in Beirut. His work shows commitment to researching, collecting and studying documents that communicate complex political situations or geographic phenomena within the larger context of Lebanon and the Middle East. It is particularly focused on the relocation of borders after military incursions and withdrawals, and on the role of surveillance and fear in imposing borders and subsequently creating states of closure. Zaatari has exhibited extensively and through his interest in the notion of collecting as an art practice, co-founded the Arab Image Foundation in 1997 (AIF), which, among other things, focuses on studying and archiving the photographic work of the photographer Hashem El-Madani (1928).
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Hans Ulrich Obrist joined Julia Peyton-Jones, the Serpentine Gallery Director, in 2006 as Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects. Prior to this, he was Curator of the Musée dArt Moderne in Paris for six years. Obrist has curated and co-curated over 200 solo and group exhibitions and biennales internationally since 1991 including, among others, the First Berlin Biennale (1998) and the First and Second Moscow Biennales (2005 and 2007). In 2007, Obrist co-curated Il Tempo del Postino with Philippe Parreno for the Manchester International Festival, also presented at Art Basel 2009. In the same year, the Van Alen Institute awarded him the New York Prize Senior Fellowship for 20078. In 2009, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).