The Future of a Promise: Largest Pan-Arab Exhibition at the Venice Biennale

As I'm trying to scramble and get a sense of ALL that is going on in Venice during the Biennale, starting next Tuesday with the first events and the vernissage/press preview on Wednesday, I was thrilled to see a show titled, The Future of a Promise that is being organized by Edge of Arabia.

The curator of this show, Lina Lazaar, is a "specialist at Sotheby’s London in Post War and Contemporary Art. Her passion for Arab and Iranian Contemporary Art led Sotheby’s to hold their first European auctions in this category in 2007. Since then she has curated these sales annually and significantly increased the international exposure and discussion of Middle Eastern contemporary art. Lina is the associate editor of the publishing forum Ibraaz and member of the Middle East North Africa Acquisitions Committee of Tate Modern, London."

The Future of a Promise will be the largest Pan-Arab show of contemporary art at the 54th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. From Tunisia all the way to Saudi Arabia, this landmark exhibition brings together more than twenty-five recent works and commissions by some of the foremost artists from the Arab world.

Presenting important works that range from installation, performance and photography, to video, sculpture and painting, The Future of a Promise includes the following artists: Ziad Abillama (Lebanon), Manal Al-Dowayan (Saudi Arabia), Ahmed Alsoudani (Iraq), Ziad Antar (Lebanon), Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanon), Lara Baladi (Egypt/Lebanon), Fayçal Baghriche (Algeria), Yto Barrada (Morocco), Taysir Batniji (Palestine), Abdelkader Benchamma (France/Algeria), Ayman Yossri Daydban (Palestine/Jordan), Mounir Fatmi (Morocco), Abdulnasser Gharem (Saudi Arabia), Mona Hatoum (Lebanon), Raafat Ishak (Egypt), Emily Jacir (Palestine), Yazan Khalili (Palestine), Ahmed Mater (Saudi Arabia), and Driss Ouadahi (Algeria), as well as three Abraaj Capital Art Prize Winners, Jananne Al-Ani (Iraq), Kader Attia (Algeria), and Nadia Kaabi-Linke (Tunisia).

The exhibition is being curated by Lina Lazaar, produced by Edge of Arabia and supported by Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives and Abraaj Capital, three newly partnered organisations whose commitment to contemporary art practice in the Middle East is at the heart of a current artistic renaissance in the region.

The Future of a Promise examines the way in which an idea is made incarnate in a formal, visual context and how a promise opens up a horizon of future possibilities, be they aesthetic, political, historical, social or critical. With the events currently unfolding in the Middle East, the question of the future and the promise inherent within culture has assumed an even more acute degree of pertinence. It is with this in mind that the exhibition enquires into the promise of visual culture in an age that has become increasingly disaffected with politics as a means of social engagement. Whilst the artists included in The Future of a Promise are not representative of a movement as such, they do seek to engage with a singular issue in the Middle East today: who gets to represent the present-day realities and the horizons to which they aspire?

“Through the artworks selected, I wanted to investigate how artists from this diverse, fragmented region have responded to the often contradictory promises that have defined our history,” says curator Lina Lazaar. “I am incredibly proud and honoured to be putting together this exhibition in 2011, at such critical times for the Arab world, and I very much hope to create the rightful platform for these voices to be heard.”

Mona Hatoum's Waiting is Forbidden, 2006-08
Mona Hatoum's Waiting is Forbidden, 2006-08

From this Brooklyn Museum entry here on the original limited edition work from 2006 that became the only one in existence when the artist recalled the other five versions:

  • Artist: Mona Hatoum, British/Palestinian, born 1952
  • Medium: Enameled metal plaque
  • Dates: 2006
  • Dimensions: 11 13/16 x 15 3/4 in. (30 x 40 cm)
  • Collections:Contemporary Art
  • Museum Location: This item is on view in Contemporary Art Galleries, 4th Floor
  • Accession Number: 2008.31
  • Edition: Unique work originally from the 2006 "Cairo" edition of 6. 5 of the edition were recalled by the artist and replaced with a new edition of 6 in 2008. The artist has not decided what to do with the original 5. The museum has retained one from the original edition, with the aritst's request that i
  • Credit Line: Purchase gift of Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons and John and Barbara Vogelstein
  • Caption: Mona Hatoum (British/Palestinian, born 1952). Waiting is Forbidden, 2006. Enameled metal plaque, 11 13/16 x 15 3/4 in. (30 x 40 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchase gift of Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons and John and Barbara Vogelstein, 2008.31. © artist or artist's estate
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