New Ends, Old Beginnings (Open Eye and the Bluecoat) Exhibition 12 July 08 – 3 September 2008
New Ends, Old Beginnings explores the cities of the Arab region through their local and everyday culture, a perspective rarely encountered in the mainstream media.
Artists: Can Altay, Ziad Antar, Lara Baladi, Cevdet Erek, Tarek Al Ghoussein, Randa Mirza, Michael Rakowitz, Hrair Sarkissian, Sharif Waked and Tarek Zaki.
The cities of the Arab region are extraordinarily diverse, ranging from sites of ancient civilisation to newly emerging urban centres, and their cultures are similarly varied and complex. While cities like Baghdad struggle to protect their museums and architectural heritage, others such as Abu Dhabi are in the early stages of promoting a new urban cultural legacy by creating a space for the arts from scratch.
Comprising photography, video, sculpture, installation and performance, the exhibition investigates themes of heritage, cultural industry and tourism in relation to the lived realities of urban life. The exhibiting artists ask how complex historical legacies can co-exist with current and future cultural practice, what tourism means for cities of the region, and how the media shapes our view of the region.
The artists exhibiting at Open Eye Gallery focus on the daily realities of urban life and the impact of actual and virtual tourism. A selection of photographs from Lara Baladi’s series ‘Surface of Time’ (2004-7) questions the past, observe the present and project the future through her images of everyday objects, forgotten and marked by the passage of time. Ziad Antar’s short video ‘Mdardara’ (2007) follows the making of a Middle Eastern lentils-and-rice dish. Shot on Super-8 film, its simple, ‘how-to’ structure offers up an open and timeless gesture of tradition. Randa Mirza’s photographs from the series ‘Parallel Universes’ (2006-8) explore our responses to media reportage of war zones, whilst acknowledging the extent of what such reportage omits. Can Altay’s photograph Mirrorworld (2008) shows a moment of leisure – a very different side of life for Dubai’s construction workers.
New Ends, Old Beginnings was curated by November Paynter and produced in partnership by the Bluecoat, Open Eye Gallery and Zenith Foundation.
For more information about the exhibition at the Bluecoat visit www.thebluecoat.org.uk or call 0151 702 5324