Middle Eastern artists will embark this month on a tour across the United States aiming to trigger rich cultural dialogue and place the artists in touch with a foreign audience.
Independent arts initiative Edge of Arabia has teamed up with the 'Art Jameel' programme by the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives International (ALJCI ) to create the event which will kick off in Houston and include New York, Boston, Washington DC and a number of West coast venues.
The tour's first stop will bring six young artists from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Kuwait to the portfolio review programme of the Houston FotoFest Biennale titled The Meeting Place. From 30 March to 2 April, the six artists will attend workshops with international professionals and curators and will present photography-based works that they developed in their respective local communities.
Three Edge of Arabia artists will also take part in a one-day conference on Arab art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston on 29 March.
In July 2014, a residency programme will be launched in New York, co-organised by Edge of Arabia, Art Jameel, and the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP).
“Over the last 10 years ALJCI’s arts and culture initiatives, now gathered under the ‘Art Jameel’ umbrella, have sought to foster and promote a thriving contemporary art scene in the MENAT (Middle East, North Africa and Turkey) region through the development of special arts and cultural exchange programmes like Edge of Arabia,” ALJCI president Fady Jameel said.
In the context of continued change in the Middle East, such artistic exchange programmes could serve to extend exposure to artwork from the region.
"It is significant, in both the broader historical moment and the history of art, that a dynamic contemporary art movement has emerged from the Middle East at this time," explained Stephen Stapleton, Edge of Arabia director.
"It is an amazing moment for the artists driving this movement to engage with audiences in the United States. These artists are at the vanguard of a new openness, which has the potential to create positive change -- internally and externally -- by offering an alternative viewpoint to the recurrent stories in the media," Stapleton continued.
The pioneering arts and education Edge of Arabia initiative was established in 2003 by Stephen Stapleton alongside two prominent Middle Eastern artists -- Ahmed Mater and Abdulnasser Gharem -- to connect Middle Eastern artists to international platforms, with a focus on Saudi Arabia.
Leading contemporary Saudi artist Abdulnasser Gharem explained that Edge of Arabia stands to alter the relationship dynamics between Middle Eastern and global societies.
"It allows us to translate contested histories and marginalised voices into a visual language of ideas that can communicate across cultures. Art allows us to move beyond a localised, often limiting perspective, and respond to the more complex reality of today’s increasingly globalised community," Gharem said.
More info on the Edge of Arabia US tour here.
Source: Ahram Online