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How I Learned to Stop Fearing and Love Exotic Art

JAMM, an independent art advisory, will host its inaugural exhibition in Kuwait of 40 artworks by Contemporary Arab and Iranian artists at the Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) warehouse located next door to the Life Center in industrial Shuwaikh (block 2, street 28). Curated by Ali Bakhtiari, the exhibition, entitled How I Learned to Stop Fearing and Love Exotic Art, will open on 20th November 2011.  The show will end on 10th December 2011.

Highlighting the use of writing in the field of contemporary Arab and Iranian art, JAMM”s exhibition will feature artworks that incorporate text in its various forms- calligraphy, graffiti, quotations, poems and sometimes just a single letter. Featuring works by both emerging and established Middle Eastern artists, the participating artists include Parviz Tanavoli, Hassan Hajjaj, Farideh Lashai, Katya Traboulsi, Fareed Abdal, Amira Behbehani, Shezad Dawood, Nargess Hashemi, Susan Hefuna and Farhad Moshiri.

'This is a wonderful opportunity to present the works of contemporary Arab and Iranian artists and to showcase works in various artistic media that incorporate text. The use of writing is familiar theme in the field of contemporary Arab and Iranian art. We want to highlight and celebrate that. Nevertheless, the use of the Arabic language renders the art from this region as ‘exotic’ to outsiders. In highlighting these so-called ‘exotic’ elements, we hope that viewers will question the nature of exoticism and appreciate the works, which are among the best examples from each of the artists selected. As a research-based exhibition, the selection was dependent on the works’ relevance to the theme of the show rather than the time that the works were produced;' says Sheikha Lulu Al-Sabah, co-founder of JAMM. 

'Exoticism is the charm of the unfamiliar. It is a relative characteristic, a way of perceiving the world. Anything can be viewed as exotic, depending on what is being perceived, by whom, where and when. There exists a lingual communication between an artwork and the observer as the observer has her own interpretation of the concept that she confronts. There is no absolute interpretation of an artwork. In changing the viewpoint in any which way, be it sociological, political, aesthetically or otherwise, it brings a new meaning to the artwork. ... Due to sociopolitical and economic changes in recent decades, there has been a new focus on Asian and Middle Eastern art and particularly, the stereotypical elements of the art from these regions, which differentiates it from the art that is being produced in other parts of the world. This new focus on these so-called exotic elements has raised a wave of pseudo intellectual criticism questioning the concept of exoticism as a whole. ...More recent trends use writing in the same vein as it was used in the Dada activities of the 1920s and beyond. Sometimes the script acts as an audio mise-en-scène for the art piece. Regardless, text makes the art appear exotic because its ambiguity;' writes the curator Ali Bakhtiari in the exhibition catalogue.  

Nargess Hashemi, Untitled from «Aceton Qajar» series, 2007, Mixed media on paper, 100 x 70 cm, Courtesy of the artist

 Farideh Lashai, Leyli Va Majnoon, 2008 - 2011, Mixed media and video projection on canvas, 180 x 160 cm, Courtesy of the artist

Iman Raad, Our cow doesn't milk, but pisses plenty!, Embroidery on velvet (dark crimson), 120 x 162 cm, Courtesy of the Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde

 Amira Behbehani, Detail of work: The Journey, 2011, Mixed media on board, 367 x 243 cm, Courtesy of the artist

Shahrzad Changalvaee, Body #1 from “Body Composition Remaining Within Limited Domain” Series, 2010, C-print, 60 x 90 cm, Edition 4 of 5, Courtesy of the artist

Shirin Fakhim, Prostitute in Love, 2011, Mixed media assemblage, 100 x 40 x 50 cm, Courtesy of the artist

About JAMM:
JAMM was founded by Kuwait based art-journalist and former Middle East Director for Philips de Pury, Lulu M. Al-Sabah and former head of Christie’s, Middle East, Lydia Limerick. Their mission is to create cultural projects without geographical boundary.
Projects range from large-scale exhibitions and events to small-scale activities focuses on the development of the art market in the Middle East and other key regional markets. For more information on JAMM, please visit www.jamm-art.com
For more information on JAMM, please contact:  Lulu Al Sabah: lasabah@jamm-art.com, Gazala Shaikh: gazalashaikh@jamm-art.com

Thanks for reading How I Learned to Stop Fearing and Love Exotic Art

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