The conception of a nation state is a relatively new phenomenon, its roots only dating back a few hundred years. The idea is generally centred around territorial sovereignty, economy, language, ethnicity and geography. Indeed, cartography and modern map-making technologies gave way to invisible lines being drawn in the sand, carving up separate corporal identities based on those artificial demarcations. But in our current globalised world, these partitioned territories appear to be more and more fragile, blurred, and even fictitious. The mythical enterprise of man-made borders is shifting day by day, where we find ourselves searching for new ways to unify or divide the world we live in. In this uncertain climate, no one knows what the future will look like. The utopian vision of separate independent peoples is in a state of chaotic disarray.
In this exhibition, artists Monira Al Qadiri and Cristiana de Marchi explore the possibilities of the Present through a selective elaboration on the Past and Future of the MENA region, as an allegory for a wider geographic context. By using form, colour and feeling, the artists dispel myths and create new unities, in what can be perhaps perceived as an unlikely association of possibilities, yet an alternative to a widely accepted nationalistic concept of belonging.
The history of navigation has been intricately related and depending on the routes featured in the sky. If maps were once written in the “vault of heaven”, melting the sky would then be a new possibility for redesigning geography.
Cristiana de Marchi is an Italian/Lebanese artist and curator who lives and works between Dubai and Beirut. Cristiana explores (through performance, video, and installations of embroidered objects and tapestries) issues related to verbalization and translation, to the correspondence between physical and nominal dimensions. Some of her themes are the use of languages in propaganda, the transition between ‘territories’ and contexts, the redefinition of memory and identity. A writer and poet, Cristiana shows through her work a deep attention to the power and influence of words, to the role of narratives, to the possibilities of word associations, and to meaningful breaks by embracing the idea that storytelling ultimately needs a gap from which to originate.
Monira Al Qadiri is a Kuwaiti visual artist and film maker born in Senegal and educated in Japan. In 2010, she received a Ph.D. in inter-media art from Tokyo University of the Arts, where her research was focused on the aesthetics of sadness in the Middle-East region stemming from poetry, music, art and religious practices. Her work explores the relationship between narcissism and masculinity, as well as other dysfunctional gender roles. She is currently expanding her practice towards social and political subjects. She is also part of the artist collective GCC, who has recently held a solo exhibition at MoMA PS1 in 2014.