Danna Lorch

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Art Dubai Modern Turns the Tables on Gender Stereotyping in the Middle East   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Art Dubai March 16th, 2016 - March 19th, 2016
Posted 3/16/16
“Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?” The Guerrilla Girls have famously been asking the same question since 1989, when the feminist group first pointed out that “Less than 5% of the modern art section [at the museum] are women.” That was in New York, but does the same hold true for the representation and visibility of modern women artists in non-western regions? While the West is quick to slap a “suppressed” sticker on Middle Eastern women as a group, fixating on veiling as... [more]
Metro Manila Meets Dubai: Curator Ringo Bunoan Talks Art Dubai's Philippines Focus   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Mark Barretto, Roberto Chabet, Tammy David, Jed Escueta, Miguel Lope Inumerable, IC Jaucian, Gino Javier, Czar Kristoff, Wawi Navarozza, Katherine Nuñez, Jayson Oliveria, J Pacena, Julius Redillas, Issay Rodriguez, Gail Vicente, Tanya Villanueva at Art Dubai March 16th, 2016 - March 19th, 2016
Posted 3/14/16
This week Art Dubai will be the first international fair to give contemporary art from the Philippines pride of place, as Ringo Bunoan (an artist, writer, researcher, and curator) curates Marker, the fair’s annual geographically-focused presentation. Under Bunoan’s direction Marker’s 100-square-meter area will concentrate on four artist-run spaces in metro Manila: 98-B, Post Gallery, Project 20, and Thousandfold. Installations by the late Roberto Chabet, widely recognized as the Philippine’s... [more]
With Collaboration and Performance Twin Photographers Represent South Africa’s Muslim Community   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Hasan & Husain Essop at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde November 16th, 2015 - January 7th, 2016
Posted 1/2/16
Twin brothers Hasan and Husain Essop have a completely collaborative photographic practice in which the two (after a lot of planning, arguing, and negotiating) reach consensus on every shot. Because of the danger of many of the locations they shoot at as well as the consensus-building character of their collaboration, the Essops’ practice is based entirely on in-depth preparation and leaves no room for spontaneous street shots or on-site experimentation. , their second solo show at Gallery... [more]
New York City, San Francisco, London, Berlin, and Miami.   Can a not for profit entity truly exist in a country that does not assess taxes? In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), neither Emirati citizens or expat residents pay taxes. As a result, high-income individuals and companies aren’t incentivized to make charitable donations or establish foundations based on tax write-offs, as in many other countries like the US. Though some galleries, foundations, and programs describe themselves as not... [more]
The Soho and Tribeca neighborhoods of New York City in the late 70s and early 80s were in many ways the hunting grounds of the original . The painter Linda Francis puts it bluntly: “We were thieves.” She was part of an art tribe who illegally rented commercial lofts on the cheap and worked in a community, struggling to eat as much as to answer important questions about what constituted art. Was it Duchamp’s urinal turned fountain, Monet’s water lilies, or Warhol’s soup cans—and who was... [more]
Contemporary Tehran: Istanbul's Iranian Gallery Focus Shows an Art Scene on the Rise   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Contemporary Istanbul November 12th, 2015 - November 15th, 2015
Posted 11/10/15
Following high-powered political negotiations, Iran recently expanded its 30-day visa upon arrival program to include citizens of a number of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern nations—including France, Germany, and Singapore, all with a concentration of high-end galleries and collectors. The new policy has already resulted in an increase in “cultural tourists,” and a boom in the art tourism industry seems an inevitability.  “I can say 70 percent of my collectors are local or international... [more]
With New Paintings Adel Abidin Questions the Perception of Arabic-Speaking Media   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Adel Abidin at Lawrie Shabibi September 14th, 2015 - November 10th, 2015
Posted 11/3/15
Iraqi-Finnish artist Adel Abidin returns to his painterly roots for the first time in six years with , a solo exhibition running at Lawrie Shabibi in Dubai. The show, which challenges society’s perceptions of Arabic-speaking media, gives visitors the feeling of watching live news on television, with some irony added in. The outstretched hand of a cleric appears from behind a microphone-strewn podium, while his body is obscured in black. The artist seems to suggest that figures of authority are... [more]
Palmyra, Nimrud, Khorsabad, Bosra, and Jonah’s Tomb are just a noted few of many ancient sites that have been decimated by ISIL bulldozers, sledgehammers, bombs, and looters recently. It is clear that the group has calculated plans to culturally cleanse the Arab world of history that doesn’t reinforce its narrow interpretation of Islam, thereby removing all memory of the Assyrian, Mesopotamian, and Akkadian civilizations as well as any legacy of peaceful pluralism. In February, the United... [more]
Human scale snail sculptures in primary colors dot the pristine terraced lawns leading up to the 57,507-square-meter Heydar Aliyev Center, a Zaha Hadid-designed concert hall and exhibition space that perches like a space station amidst Baku’s congested multi-lane roads and construction cranes busily renovating crumbling Soviet-era architectural beauties. Exterior shot of the Heydar Aliyev Center, designed by Zaha Hadid. Photo: Jeffrey Lorch   A few minutes’ drive along the Caspian is YARAT... [more]
Amir H. Fallah Creates a Portrait in Cactus and Lava Lamps in The Caretaker   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Amir H. Fallah at Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art May 28th, 2015 - September 27th, 2015
Posted 8/25/15
Amir H. Fallah’s portraits resemble the site of an archaeological dig. When Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb, the young pharaoh’s body was wrapped in shrouds with his material possessions painstakingly arranged around him. Likewise, Fallah incorporates everyday objects from a subject’s home into ornate, unconventional portraits that obscure the figure’s face, finding profound connections in the seemingly mundane and charm in the ugly. It’s not coincidental that much of his work... [more]
Faig Ahmed shares his Baku studio with what he refers to as his “Tribe,” a group of young artists who split materials, bookshelves, and even food, in a communal setting. In 2011, the painter Aida Mahmudova and a group of local artists including Ahmed, founded YARAT as a platform for contemporary art in Azerbaijan. Along with a 2,000-square-meter flagship space neighboring the recently built European Games stadium, and the social enterprise space YAY Gallery, YARAT offers both established and... [more]
In response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality, Ramallah-based artist Khaled Jarrar wittingly spurred a cultural debate in the West Bank when in open daylight hours on Monday he painted a rainbow on a section of the wall in the West Bank near the congested Qalandiya checkpoint. Almost instantly, the other pervasive wall in Jarrar’s life, his Facebook page, became a tangled bramble of death threats, pledges of solidarity, and heated discussion. The mural, which... [more]
Alserkal Avenue, Dubai’s industrial arts district, was originally a marble factory and is tucked away in the city’s least tourist friendly area, near labor camps, auto repair shops, cheap cafeterias, and makeshift mosques—a far cry from the five star hotel lobbies and glitzy skyscrapers the city is most often associated with abroad. In the wake of the first Christie’s auction of Contemporary Middle Eastern Art in 2006, and the launch of Art Dubai as an annual fair platform for the region the... [more]
Two boys crouch on either side of the wall that separates the West Bank from Jerusalem. They are smuggling 1,000 loaves of (“bread of Jerusalem”) through a hand-bored hole in the concrete. Ramallah-based artist Khaled Jarrar interviews them from behind an unsteady camera. “Pull! Pull!” urges the older boy. Dust from both the flour and the wall is seen as the younger child collects the bread on the other side in a makeshift production line. The zero-shaped egg loaves, dotted with sesame seeds... [more]
Two chador-clad figures gesticulate with fully covered arms onscreen at the rear of Carbon 12, a gallery in Dubai. It would be easy to yawn and dismiss Anahita Razmi’s video, (above), as yet one more work in which an artist covers Middle Eastern women’s faces and bodies to insinuate that they are voiceless. That assumption is turned on its (veiled) head, once one picks up a set of headphones to listen to the work’s sound, which reveals that the performers are actually a male and female couple... [more]
Typing Syria is a social experiment and performance piece running in a Whatsapp group through the month of April. Subscribers are not allowed to engage with the characters, and are encouraged to eavesdrop but not act. This voyeuristic relationship echoes the international community’s attitude to the Syrian situation four years on, which can be likened to the screen saver that comes onto the iPhone after 30 seconds of inattention. Throughout the performance, two old friends, fictional... [more]
Melting Machismo: Nadia Kaabi-Linke's Fahrenheit 311   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Nadia Kaabi-Linke at Lawrie Shabibi March 16th, 2015 - May 14th, 2015
Posted 3/30/15
Medically speaking, at precisely 311 degrees Fahrenheit, testosterone, the male sex hormone, begins to melt. With her second solo show at Lawrie Shabibi in Dubai, Nadia Kaabi-Linke presents eight place-centred works that each conduct an autopsy on masculine qualities and myths—from war and glory to violence and heroism. The seven deadly sins run in parallel. In case you need a re-cap of Dante’s Inferno, these are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. Nadia... [more]
What would happen to the art market if all work was sold and acquired democratically? That’s a pretty controversial question to ask at an art fair. In its 9th edition Art Dubai (March 18–21) drew an estimated 25,000 visitors to view modern and contemporary art from 92 galleries in plush exhibition halls. The art market in the United Arab Emirates is about as old as the fair, but thanks to a solid gallery scene, some record Christie’s auctions, and easy import and export policies, Dubai is... [more]
Sharjah Biennial 12: The Right to the City   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Sharjah Art Foundation March 5th, 2015 - June 5th, 2015
Posted 3/16/15
It is a pity for someone with a good sense of direction to visit Sharjah Biennial 12 (SB12) at Sharjah Art Foundation. You are given a map with free admission, but I advise that you leave it folded in your back pocket, because the best part of the Biennial involves getting lost in the maze of coral-walled alleyways leading to contemporary galleries that shock in their contrast to the heritage area in which they sit. Turn a corner and you might hit a dead-end; or you could find yourself face to... [more]
Middle East-centric shows are having a moment in American museums, but the Middle East, North Africa, and Mediterranean (MENAM) focus at this year’s Armory Show (March 4-8) will mark the first time a fair in the US has brought a large showing of art from the region to a commercial environment. Curator Omar Kholeif and focus partners Edge of Arabia and Art Jameel have selected a handful of galleries, each of which will feature a maximum of two artists, balanced between modern and contemporary.... [more]
Savvy Lebanese talk show host Zaven Kouyoumdjian broke a story on February 10 announcing that Beirut Municipality may remove all street art murals and graffiti from the city as part of a new overarching national policy to ban political slogans, posters, banners, and flags from public spaces. While technically street art has always required a permit from the municipality, that rule was seldom enforced in the past, and writers from all over the world have visited Beirut to beautify the already... [more]
The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s roof weighs the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower—its dome references the Islamic architectural cornerstone of the mosque. According to French architect Jean Nouvel’s poetic vision of a “rain of light,” an intricate layer of geometric incisions in the dome will optimize sunlight to create a constantly changing installation inside the museum. Set to open its doors to the public by the close of 2015, the 260,000-square-foot Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first museum to be... [more]
Hazem Harb and his sketches; Courtesy of Salsali Private Museum   Hazem Harb drew the roman shades in his home studio to block out the shockingly bright desert views and force himself to concentrate. He was finishing the plans for , his upcoming solo show at Salsali Private Museum in Dubai. The show’s press release had come out that day and ours was the first interview he would give of many. As a result, he projected a kind of calm intensity. Although Harb’s home is Gaza—a place he can’t... [more]
When London-based sound artists Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver first arrived in Dubai for an 11-month residency at Tashkeel, all they could hear was the white noise of air conditioning units. Slowly, their ears adjusted and natural sounds began to break through. While we spoke on the terrace outside the gallery, Fari draped herself on a settee, a droll setup that made me feel like a Freudian psychologist, particularly when our interview took a turn to the theoretical. Our bodies absorbed the... [more]
In much of the Middle East, graffiti is regarded as a form of vandalism—a subversive crime to be scrubbed away or painted over and concealed. However, that outdated understanding may be shifting, due to the impact of the wildly popular Djerbahood Project. From July through August, 2014, Djerba, an ancient Tunisian island, recently welcomed around 150 of the world’s best known and emerging street artists to bring new life to the whitewashed walls of the tiny, traditional village of Erriadh. The... [more]
The Egyptian Revolution incited an outpouring of graffiti, most of it politically motivated and aimed at an audience of ordinary Egyptians. A multitude of artists—including Ganzeer, Keizer, Ammar Abo Bakr, and the late Hesham Rizk—put their lives on the line to write on every available surface, from walls to military barricades and even army tanks. Basma Hamdy and Don Karl aka Stone meticulously documented the street art that came before, amidst, and in the aftermath of the Revolution and... [more]
Street artist eL Seed introduced (a marriage of traditional Arabic calligraphy and contemporary graffiti) to the Arab world in 2012 when he famously painted a Koranic verse calling for tolerance onto the façade of the Jara Mosque’s minaret in his ancestral town of Gabes, Tunisia. Although his work is not political, eL Seed rapidly became the high profile poster artist for Arabic graffiti, with a collaboration with Louis Vuitton, a public art project painting 73 meters of freeway underpasses in... [more]
Gulf Artist Collective Brings Their Diplomatic Parody to the Middle East   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
GCC at Sharjah Art Foundation October 11th, 2014 - December 10th, 2014
Posted 11/14/14
Representatives of The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (The Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC in abbreviation) deliberate while seated in red silk chairs around a polished wooden table engraved in gold leaf. GCC, a collective of eight artists largely of Kuwaiti origin have installed a doll-sized replica of the table in the center of an otherwise empty and sterile exhibition space at Sharjah Art Foundation. The table huddles weakly beneath the glare of LED lights streaming... [more]
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