The BildMuseet in Umeå, northern Sweden, is the current venue of the project series Contemporary Arab Representations headed by Catherine David. Since 2001, exhibitions, seminars, readings, lectures, performances, and other events have taken place at different venues (see below). Supplemented by publications and focused on specific themes and places, the project depicts the activities of visual artists, architects, writers, poets, filmmakers, and other actors from the intellectual and cultural realm of the Arab world. Rather than using the habitual term of "artwork", Catherine David speaks of "representations" since the heterogeneous, conflictive, and sometimes antagonistic situation of contemporary Arab culture is always in the background of the actual work and since the main concern of the project is the "complex dimensions of aesthetics in relation to social and political situations".
The presentation at BildMuseet is - similarly to former venues - focused on Beirut and the Lebanon. 22 projects from the fields of film, photography, architecture, sculpture, installation, and literature by artists and intellectuals who live there will be shown.The presentation includes a special media centre where visitors may watch live broadcasts from a total of 17 TV channels of the Arab world.
In Lebanon, Catherine David sees a laboratory that is essential for the understanding of contemporary culture in the age of globalization, in which however, the habitual theoretical patterns of explanation have to date, failed. Although Lebanon is no longer in a position to serve as a model for the Arab world, the efforts made by many Lebanese intellectuals after the war for the development and promotion of an "experimental and critical contemporary Arab culture" rate as being exemplary.
The BildMuseet is not participating in Contemporary Arab Representations with this one show only. Already having exhibited the work of Fazal Sheikh and Ghada Amer in other constellations, it will present a further phase of the project in November 2003.
Contemporary Arab Representations was produced by the Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona and by the Witte de With, center for contemporary art in Rotterdam, in collaboration with: Universidad Internacional de Andalucía (UNIA), Seville; Arteleku, San Sebastián; Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart and BildMuseet, Umeå. The presentation in the BildMuseet is supported by the Folkuniversitetet.
Past and future venues for Contemporary Arab Representations:
The project began with a seminar at the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía in Sevilla, October 2001. Here, the situation in the Middle East was examined, with focus on the city of Beirut (Lebanon).
It continued at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, with a colloquium on "Contemporary aesthetic practices in the Arab world", 7 - 9 February 2002. Young artists, architects, and theoreticians from Palestine, Morocco, and Lebanon presented their most recent work and thoughts.
The next venues were the Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona, 3 May - 14 July 2002, and the Witte de With, center for contemporary art, Rotterdam (under the directorship of Catherine David since January 2002), 15 September - 24 November 2002. The Witte de With's website presents a comprehensive documentation of the event.
The next section in the series will focus on Cairo, Egypt and takes place at the Witte de With, Rotterdam, 18 May - 27 July 2003.
9 February -
21 April 2003
Gema Martín Muñoz
Paola Yacoub / Michel Lasserre