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At a historic moment when the ground under our feet seems to be crumbling away, when many beliefs seem to be contested, where the virtual seems to be taking over the real, and the reigning economic systems are no longer valid and in urgent need of change, it is important to analyze that Common Ground which we share. A notion that not only refers directly to the urban land we cohabit physically but that also opens the debate on what is already shared, should be shared and can be potentially shared in our contemporary societies.
To affirm our plurality, to create through alliance and to consider Bahrain's contemporaneity as the raw material for new artistic work are the leitmotifs of this edition of Alwan 338 Public Art Festival. All projects and propositions hinge on affiliation, the recognition of similarity and the assimilation of difference. Thus, in the residencies of this year both the international artists and the Bahraini artists selected to participate have been asked to reflect on what we have common and to create, either together or individually, site-specific new pieces through the filter of their experiences of Bahrain. Mini collectives, duos and collaborations formed between guests and hosts where all the members have been active producers of the artworks and the artistic process shared. The result is a very particular alchemy of the personalities that have briefly come together. The on-site pieces conjured up during these 10 days of exchange and now exhibited here would have never been the same elsewhere.
As part of the visual arts section, 8 international artists and 22 resident artists present 20 pieces throughout the Adliya neighborhood, transforming its streets, roundabouts, buildings, façades and walls, as well as Al Riwaq Gallery, many restaurants and the park. In addition, a photographic exhibition that brings together the work of 6 international photographers around the theme of "Shared Habits, Global Rituals" will be presented at the entrance of Block 338.
A special commission of Park 338 by the architecture studio Spoon will host several activities throughout the month, including: talks by all participating artists and projections of their works; a video art program centered around the theme of "Everyday Emotions" and curated by Lowave; a series of feature films; and open-air concerts by local Bahraini musicians. We have also designed a photo studio that will travel through the neighborhoods of Manama, and two main workshops, one, for the first time in Bahrain, the AtWork notebook sessions directed by Katia Anguelova from Lettera27, and a second by Osama Esid on 19th-century photographic techniques. There are also collaborative public programs organized by the Ulafa'a collective and offered every Saturday.
What we propose for this second edition of Alwan 338 is a collective dialogue through different artistic disciplines that have the capacity to transform the space we inhabit into an open exchange, and that allow a creative questioning of everyday life and the possibility of new critical approaches and understandings.
Maunac & Santos
Sandra Maunac & Mónica Santos. Independent curators, based in Madrid, Spain. Founders of Masasam - Spaces for Artistic Creation.
2nd edition of the Public Art Festival
26 March - 26 April 2013
Adliya’s Block 338 in Manama, Bahrain
Theme: Common Ground
Sandra Maunac and Monica Santos
Masasam Curatorial Projects
Internat. Architecture Exhibition, 22 May - 21 November 2021. Curator: Hashim Sarkis.
59th International Art Exhibition, 23 April - 27 November 2022. Artistic Director: Cecilia Alemani.