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"Cross-border: Contemporary female artists from the Arabian Mediterranean region" opens at the ZKM
Susan Hefuna, Silence Forever. Wood, ink, 260 x 260 cm © Susan Hefuna Photo: Graham Waite.

KARLSRUHE.- With the exhibition “Cross-border” the ZKM presents for the first time exclusively contemporary women artists, and, likewise for the first time, from the Arabic-influenced Mediterranean region. With a focus on these countries, a complex art scene is presented which has increasingly drawn attention to itself following its rapid and dynamic development over recent years.

Not only since the beginning of the Arab Spring have Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, the Autonomous Palestinian Territories, Syria and the Lebanon found themselves in a state of political and cultural transformation, an unfolding event which is being followed in Europe with a mixture of great interest, curiosity and hope, but also with skepticism. This growing interest may also be observed in the German art world. In general, however, this field remains relatively unknown within Germany. In regions, in which galleries and museums have no long tradition, since the 1990s many art spaces have emerged which react to the high-level creativity in conflict-intense and dynamic art centers of art such as Cairo and Beirut.

In terms of content, the exhibition emphasizes the artistic investigation of different aspects surrounding the theme ‘borders’ and the transcendence of such borders in individual, cultural, political and territorial connections. In the face of the Arab Spring this theme is topical, especially with respect to questions relating to the relationship of the individual to the external world, to reciprocal influence, foreign or autonomous determination, as well as with respect to the possibilities of the individual, to actively shape his life and/or environment. The works of the artists, most of whom were born in the 1970s, are marked by the tension between traditional Arabic and new, Western influences, which, no less important, have been conditioned by the development and dissemination of new media and technologies. Many of the artists represented in the exhibition have spent extended stays abroad; many of them live or commute between different countries. Drawings, photographs, video installations and sculptures testify to the artist’s multimedia examination of the political, social and cultural themes within their respective life worlds. The artists – in some sense as pioneers – have already dealt with
these questions in the years leading up to the Arab Spring. Thus, a large part of the exhibits had already been produced prior to 2010.

By way of the artist’s works, the exhibition offers a more differentiated angle on the regions, which invites viewers to revise prejudices and to discover new perspectives.

Arwa Abouon, Lara Baladi, Anna Boghiguian, Yto Barrada, Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Diana El Jeiroudi, Rana ElNemr, Reem Ghazzi, Mona Hatoum, Susan Hefuna, Emily Jacir, Amal Kenawy, Bouchra Khalili, Diala Khasawnih, Randa Mirza, Faten Rouissi, Mouna Jemal Siala, Oraib Toukan

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