press release

The inaugural exhibition in Gallery I will be a group show curated by Rami Farook, with works from The Farook Collection. This explosive show features works by a plethora of contemporary artists from the region and the world. Inspired by the post-9/11 world we live in, 'THE STATE' references both the political state as well as our current global condition.

The show also sets the agenda for Traffic, pointing towards a focus on collective discourse as well as regional art patronage. Pieces by emerging artists such as Abbas Akhavan and Sara Rahbar, sit side-by-side with established names such as Allora & Calzadilla and Mona Hatoum. Their works explore diverse conceptual ideas and are presented in various media, but all come together to build a highly charged portrait of 'THE STATE'.

Curated by Rami Farook, Director of Traffic, THE STATE features 26 works by 16 artists from around the world

Abbas Akhavan Born in Tehran in 1977, Abbas Akhavan has been living in Canada since 1992. His background in Art History and Visual Arts has taken his artistic practice through a variety of mediums including painting, installation, video/performance and site-specific ephemeral work. Akhavan’s recent works focus on domestic spaces and those just outside the home – the garden, the backyard, and other landscapes. He explores the powerful relationships rooted in the domestication of nature and the territorial use of space to emphasize the ritualistic nature of (art) spaces and art viewing but, more importantly, to render the audience as active viewers and impending voyeuristic trespassers.

Sama Alshaibi Sama Alshaibi is an artist born in Basra, Iraq - to an Iraqi father and Palestinian mother – and is now a naturalized US citizen. Alshaibi’s works evoke the language of suffering, displacement and loss. She often uses her own body as both a protagonist and a site, linking struggles and the way that nations have affected and twisted lives through her bodily performances. Her auto-ethnographic approach is informed by her own history of living in war, the double negation to her familial homelands and her countless encounters with those policing borders from the undesired.

Tarek Al-Ghoussein Born in Kuwait in 1962, but of Palestinian origin, much of Tarek Al-Ghoussein's work deals with how his identity is shaped within the context of inaccessibility and loss. Indirectly affected by the realities that his counterparts in Palestine face, Al-Ghoussein spends his time reconstructing allegories for the obstacles, barricades and walls erected in the Occupied Territories from a distance. Now based in the UAE, many of his photographs include the artist dwarfed by a vast desert landscape, stuck in front of remnants of walls in the middle of an open space.

Allora & Calzadilla Jennifer Allora, born in 1974 in Philadelphia, and Guillermo Calzadilla, born in 1971 in Havana, have been in collaboration since 1995. Through sculpture, photography, performance, sound and video, their works have been concerned with the ideas of nationality, borders and consumerism in profoundly conceptual and metaphorical ways. They have both been chosen to represent the United States at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, marking the first time that an artist pair or collective has been picked by the nation to fill the prestigious role. Allora & Calzadilla currently live and work in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Al Braithwaite Born in West Germany in 1979, Al Braithwaite studied Human and Physical Geography at Oxford University. In 2002, he travelled extensively around the Middle East with the artist collective Off Screen, later co-authoring the book of this project, Off Screen: Four Young Artists in the Middle East. His self-styled ‘maximal art’, tackles the subject of terrorism with humour, yet manages to stay respectful to what is an obviously complicated issue. Braithwaite views his works as a juxtaposition between old and young, Oriental and Occidental, and sees it conveying a powerful message about the geographical realigning of power in the 21st century.

James Clar James Clar’s work is a fusion of technology, pop art and visual information. His work has been an exploration of media technology and often charts the common intersection that is light, the shared element between all visual mediums. Following a move to the Middle East in 2007, his unique vantage point as the only media artist from America practicing in the Middle East has led to more conceptual works. While still analysing light and media technology, his conceptual themes have expanded to national identity and globalism. Recent works have also continued his fascination with pop culture - the all-connecting force that makes the world a smaller place and allows for ideas to disseminate at rapid speed.

Shezad Dawood Shezad Dawood was born in London in 1974 and trained at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art before undertaking a PhD at Leeds Metropolitan University. Dawood works across many different forms of media, and much of his practice involves curation and collaboration, frequently working with other artists to build on and create unique networks of critically engaged discursive circles. He was recently announced as a winner of the 2011 Abraaj Capital Art Prize, alongside four other artists from the MENASA region. He currently lives and works in London.

Ayman Yossri Daydban Ayman Yossri Daydban has spent most of his life in Jeddah and identifies with Saudi Arabia, but is in fact a Palestinian with Jordanian nationality. This sense of national dislocation and fragmented cultural identity has had a profound effect on his artistic practice. His exploration of responsive performance and sculpture has led to pieces that interact with the viewer in a personal manner. Locked away in his studio in Jeddah, Daydban engages in the production of experiences, rather than simply producing commodities, designed to be hung, bought and sold.

Fouad Elkoury Fouad Elkoury was born in 1952 in France, and currently lives between Paris and Beirut. He is known for being at the forefront of photographic practices in Lebanon and the wider Middle East and has covered the various social and political upheavals these regions have experienced. In 2001, Elkoury introduced video into his repertoire with the film Lettres à Francine to accompany the chiaroscuro-esque photographic series Sombre, along with Moving Out (2003) and Welcome to Beirut (2005). Elkoury’s On Love and War, a series of journal entries spanning the duration of Israel’s onslaught onto Lebanon in August 2006 was shown in Lebanon’s first National Pavillion in the Venice Biennale of 2007.

Mounir Fatmi Born in Morocco in 1970, Mounir Fatmi constructs visual spaces and linguistic games that aim to free the viewer from their preconceptions of politics and religion, allowing them to contemplate these and other subjects in new ways. His videos, installations, drawings, paintings and sculptures bring to light our doubts, fears and desires. They directly address the current events of our world, and serve to both clarify the origins and symptoms of global issues, as well as speak to those whose lives are affected by specific events.

Daniel & Geo Fuchs The German artist-duo Daniel and Geo Fuchs, born in 1966 and 1969 respectively, are known for photographic works that deal with borders and border experiences. Recently their works have taken on the themes of life and death, but continue to retain the unique Fuchs sensibility. Their project Toygiants, one of their recent successes, is a photographic exploration of toy figures, both vintage and modern. In extreme close-ups, the Fuchs show iconic characters such as Batman and Superman, alongside real life figures of good and evil – Che Guevara poses next to Abraham Lincoln and George Bush is juxtaposed with Osama Bin Laden. The images range from the humourous to the overtly provocative.

Ramin Haerizadeh Born in Tehran in 1975, Ramin Haerizadeh’s tutorage under the influential Iranian photographer Massoud Massoumi provoked an interest first in making photographic images and then re-appropriating them to his own ends. Haerizadeh presents a fragmented and disparate representation of Iran’s inner life since the Islamic Revolution. Through collage of found photographs and manipulated scans of his own bearded face, the artist interrogates the sacrificial violence associated with the toppling of the Shah and its implications on the psyche of his country.

Mona Hatoum Born in Beirut in 1952, but of Palestinian descent, Mona Hatoum has been a resident of the United Kingdom since 1975 but currently lives and works between London and Berlin. She works in a diverse range of media including installation, sculpture, video, photography and works on paper. Fear and power dynamics play an important part in her work, especially as seen in class, gender and race relationships; as well as through cultural displacement and discrimination.

Adam McEwen Born in 1965 in England, Adam McEwen now lives and works in New York. Through sculptures, paintings and installations, McEwen attempts to jolt viewers out of their desensitised modern existences. Text is often a major component of his work, as seen in the obituaries he created for living celebrities such as Jeff Koons and Kate Moss, as well as the pieces built out of text messages received from friends.

Andrei Molodkin Andrei Molodkin was born in Boui, Russia in 1966 and currently lives and works in Paris, France. Molodkin’s early days as a soldier in the Russian Army - where he assisted in the delivery of oil in Siberia – has led to an artistic career that critically addresses contemporary cultural and geopolitical issues. He is known for his use of several non-traditional and non-artistic materials: crude oil, blood and ballpoint pens. In 2009, his work was chosen to represent Russia at the 53rd Venice Biennale.

Sara Rahbar Sara Rahbar was born in Tehran in 1976, but fled her birthplace during the period of immense upheaval that followed the revolution in Iran and the start of the Iran-Iraq war. Rahbar studied in London and New York, and now spends most of her productive life in New York. The symbol of ideological and nationalistic violence, the Flag, has been one of the main focuses of her collage conversations and contestations.

THE STATE - Works from The Farook Collection

Künstler: Abbas Akhavan, Sama Alshaibi, Al Braithwaite, Allora & Calzadilla, James Clar, Shezad Dawood, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Fouad Elkoury, Mounir Fatmi, Daniel & Geo Fuchs, Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Ramin Haerizadeh, Mona Hatoum, Adam McEwen, Andrei Molodkin, Sara Rahbar