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BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN (stephaniebuhmann.com) | HERE AND ELSEWHERE
In the past decade, contemporary art from across North Africa and the Middle East has increasingly gathered international attention. Some of the most comprehensive and most important recent international exhibitions in Europe — such as Documenta in Kassel (2012) and the La Biennale di Venezia (2013) — have made a point of including artists from these regions.
In New York, however, it is still somewhat hard to come by works heralding from Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Dubai, Doha, Marrakesh, Ramallah or Sharjah. Therefore, it is a special treat to visit “Here and Elsewhere” — the first museum-wide exhibition in New York to bring together more than 40 artists from over 12 countries in the Arab world, many of whom live and work internationally. It is organized by the New Museum’s curatorial department, led by Massimiliano Gioni, who also curated La Biennale in 2013.
The title is borrowed from “Ici et ailleurs” [Here and Elsewhere], a 1976 work by French directors Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, and Anne-Marie Miéville. Conceived as a pro-Palestinian documentary, it manifested as a faceted contemplation of the representation and the status of images as political instruments. In this spirit, the exhibition embraces different methodologies with a focus on personal reportage. It particularly examines the role of artists in the face of historical events and how they are vested with the responsibility of revising dominant historical narratives.
While several of the artists experiment with archival material, rewriting personal and collective traumas, others employ traditional mediums (painting, drawing, sculpture) to record subtle and intimate shifts in awareness sparked by current events. By including both under-recognized and established mid-career artists, “Here and Elsewhere” works against the notion of the Arab world as a homogenous or cohesive entity.
Through Sept. 28, at the New Museum (235 Bowery, btw. Stanton & Rivington Sts.). Hours: Wed., Fri.–Sun., 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Admission: $16 ($14 for seniors, $10 for students). Pay-what-you-wish Thurs., 7–9 p.m. (suggested donation, $2). Call 212-219-1222 or visit newmuseum.org.
THE INTUITIONISTS This collaborative artist project was inspired by Colson Whitehead’s 1999 fiction novel of the same name, which explores the relationships between progress, technology and difference.
Pondering how the collection, the database, and the aggregate serve as complementary models for the organization of information and objects in flux, artists Heather Hart, Steffani Jemison and Jina Valentine have invited over 60 members of the Drawing Center’s substantial Viewing Program — which has offered emerging artists the opportunity to include their work in a curated Artist Registry since 1977 — to submit artworks specifically responding to a word or phrase from Whitehead’s novel.
In addition, each item in the exhibition is hung according to the sequence determined by Whitehead’s text. Meanwhile, the Lab gallery features collaboration by Hart, Jemison and Valentine, inspired by a paragraph from the novel, using its words and letters to form an interpretive drawing.
Through Aug. 24, at The Drawing Center (35 Wooster St., btw. Broome & Grand Sts.). Hours: Wed., Fri.–Sun., 12 p.m.–6 p.m., Thurs. 12 p.m.–8 p.m. Price: Adults, $5, Students & Seniors, $3, Kids under 12, Free. Free 6–8 p.m. Thurs. Call 212-219-2166 or visit drawingcenter.org. The Drawing Center is wheelchair accessible.