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Back To The Future: HISTORY AND CONTEMPORARY ART IN THE MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA, AND SOUTH ASIA


CURATED BY ATTEQA ALI

Ali Cherri | Susan Hefuna | Hasnat Mehmood | Risham Syed

This group exhibition considers the work of artists from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia that address the enduring presence of the past. History is not something that is simply from long ago, safely tucked away like a box of old things in a storage room. It does not remain hidden until we decide to look through those objects and pictures containing so many memories. Instead it is all around us, cluttering our daily existence. In formerly colonized or occupied areas of the world, the previous rulers continue to impact life there albeit in transformed ways. They carry on like ghosts in the machine. Oftentimes they are given more significance than the current residents. Neocolonialism shapes global dynamics today in similar ways to the power relationships that existed before. By acknowledging the past, the artists in Back to the Future offer new images of a bygone era in order to shed light on contemporary times.    

Ali Cherri is a video and visual artist based in Beirut and Paris. His recent solo exhibitions include Somniculus at Jeu de Paume, Paris and CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux (2017); Tretyakov Gallery Moscow (Sep. 2017); Galerie Imane Farès (Oct. 2017); Jönköpings läns museum, Sweden (2017); Sursock Museum, Beirut (2016). He is the recipient of Harvard University’s Robert E. Fulton Fellowship (2016) and Rockefeller Foundation Award (2017).

Susan Hefuna is an mixed-media artist who lives and works between Cairo, Düsseldorf and New York City.  She has been exhibiting work internationally since 2000 and is the 2013 recipient of the Daniel and Florence Guerlain contemporary drawing award, Paris.  Susan Hefuna has completed several international residencies, and her works are collected by several international public institutions.

Hasnat Mehmood is a mixed-media artist trained in miniature painting at the National College of Arts, Lahore where he earned a BFA in 2001.  Mehmood has experimented with the practice of miniature painting, in the spirit of trailblazers like Shahzia Sikander; his 2009 solo show at Aicon Gallery, NY titled I love Miniature that included pieces Mehmood copied from fellow artists that is now in the collection of Art for Embassies. Mehmood is currently a lecturer in Fine Arts, Miniature Department, National College of Arts, Lahore.

Risham Syed is a Lahore-based artist who uses painting, as well as other mediums to explore questions of history, sociology, and politics. Her native city plays a main role in her work, as do related inquiries into what the colonial history of the region has meant to today’s culture. She explores these questions using her paintings as pieces of a greater, often global context through installation and use of objects with social reference and connotation. She earned a BFA with Honors in Painting from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 1993 and an MA from Royal College of Art, London in 1996.

Atteqa Ali is Associate Professor of Art History at Zayed University, Dubai. She obtained her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, USA. She has curated several exhibitions on contemporary art from Pakistan and other countries in the Islamic world, including Hear Me Roar: New Art from Bangladesh, Iran, and Pakistan at the Jamjar Gallery Dubai. In November 2014, she presented an exhibition that examines the impact of technology on the development of art in the MENASA region as part of the 20th Annual International Symposium on Electronic Art in Dubai for which she served as the Exhibitions Director.