The exhibition comprises the work of 7 emerging women artists with roots in the Arab region: Yumna Al-Arashi, Nada Elkalaawy, Shaikha Fahad Al Ketbi, Thana Faroq, Araz Farra, Nadia Gohar and Najd AlTaher.
How does your memory of a place change once you have left? What happens if you are ethnically associated with a location but have never even been there? Memories can be inherited, they can alter from generation to generation, becoming fragmented, creating gaps that need to be filled. They can also change with time. Some memories can be buried, while others can be idealised.
The artists whose works comprise this exhibition have roots in Egypt, Kuwait, Syria, Yemen and the UAE, yet they are based in Europe and North America as well as in the Middle East. Some of them have been born into diaspora, others remain in theregion, while others have left their homeland due to other circumstances. They all illustrate movement in their work in various ways, creating a rich, multilayered picture of young women from the region.
People have been moving to, from and through the Arab region for hundreds, even thousands of years. They still do. With them memories also move, are created and are altered through time. Sometimes travel is required to discover one’s own heritage. At other times movement is vital to seek safety. In our technological and globalized world, many of us have the gift of travel, but some our hindered due to powers beyond our control.
Perpetual Movement – and exhibition that addresses a multitude of reasons for and the impact of migration and investigates the fragmented memories that are created and passed on as a consequence of these actions. Movement can be both positive and negative, there are many reasons why it takes place, but it is always happening.
Yumna Al-Arashi (b. 1988, Washington D.C., USA) was born to a Yemeni father and Egyptian mother, and raised in the United States. She studied International Politics at The New School in New York City and her on-going photography work has received support from The US Department of State Office of Art in Embassies, International Women’s Media Foundation, The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, National Geographic Abu Dhabi, and VSCO. She was named an Up And Coming Female Journalist by Forbes Magazine in 2011. Yumna’s work confronts her own struggles of identity and placement in the social realm as both a woman and a Muslim. Her background in politics and journalism shines in her work, where she approaches humanitarian matters such as women’s rights and labor injustices.
Nada ElKalaawy (b. 1995, Alexandria, Egypt) is a London-based Egyptian artist in the final year of an MA in Painting at the Slade School of Fine Art. Her practice attempts to record what is being forgotten and mark what should be erased from collective memory. By delving into an archive of family photographs and recordings that span three generations, Elkalaawy explores cultural and personal identity, diaspora, displacement, feminism, Islamophobia and the male gaze. Her work is autobiographical and exposes her own history, genealogy, and nationality, questioning what should be retained from her past and what should be lost. Though her practice revolves around her own background, it is not just a family portrait; but also an attempt to unfold her story as an artist living between two countries and cultures, narrowing down to what she wants to show about her homeland and to convey her two identities merging into one.
Thana Faroq (b. 1990, Sana’a, Yemen) is a Yemeni documentary photographer based in the Netherlands. She pursued an M.A. in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at university of Westminster in London. Thana has collaborated with various international organizations, such as Care, Oxfam, the British Council and UN women to tell the stories of women, children and internally displaced people in Yemen. Her work has featured in several prominent media outlets such as Al Jazeera, CNN Arabia the Huffington Post, BBC, the World Press Photo and others. Thana's work questions identity, boundaries and conflicts. She has recently received Genesis imaging mentorship and a bursary award for her recent project 'The Passport.'
Araz Farra (b. 1994, London, UK) was born in London to two Syrian-Armenian parents. She studied Fine Art at Middlesex University for three years where her adoration for video art and photography grew. Araz spent her childhood summer holidays in Aleppo, Syria. Coupled with living in a cosmopolitan city like London, Araz finds culture and identity to be the key element in her work. Growing up as part of the Armenian Diaspora Araz has felt compelled to share her people’s story through her art.
Nadia Gohar (b. 1989, Cairo, Egypt) was born in Cairo, Egypt and received her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston, Massachusetts in 2012. She has exhibited internationally at The Table, Little Sister Gallery, The Power Plant, Artscape Youngplace, Project Gallery, Toronto, Canada; Sleep Center, New York; Samson Projects, Boston, USA; Liberia Cascianelli, Rome, Italy. Gohar currently lives & works in Toronto, Canada.
Shaikha Fahad Al Ketbi (b. 1995, Abu Dhabi, UAE) is a visual artist whose main practice involves photography, drawing and installation art. Her art explores themes of self-awareness and blurs the line between fiction and reality.
Najd AlTaher (b. 1993, Kuwait City, Kuwait) is a Kuwaiti visual artist who voices her personal point of view in regards to issues of social politics through conceptual photography, videography and installation art. She’s been exposed to the artistic field since a very young age. Continuous travel helped her learn the importance of craft and detail, and gain the tools to envision and collage different cultures in a modern way. She has won the Crossway Foundation award twice and toured Japan and the US alongside other artist. AlTaher aims to become a voice to the Arab youth.
Lizzy Vartanian Collier (b. 1993, London, UK) is a London-based writer and curator of mixed Lebanese-Armenian and British descent. She has an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and is an assistant editor at I.B.Tauris publishers. Lizzy has written for publications both in the UK and the Middle East including Canvas, the Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed, ReOrient and Suitcase magazines.