Cross-country, cross-cultural tour of Middle Eastern artists launches in Houston
and travels to New York, Boston in 2014
Edge of Arabia, in partnership with Art Jameel, will embark on a tour across the United States of America, with the aim to connect artists with new audiences, bridge communities and inspire renewed cultural dialogue. Launching in March 2014 in Houston, the tour will travel to New York, Boston and Washington D.C. before making the cross-country road trip to the west coast.
“As a continuation of ALJCI’s longstanding work with Edge of Arabia, Art Jameel is proud to partner on this tour,” adds Fady Jameel, President of Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) International. “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.”
“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,” explains Stephen Stapleton, Director of Edge of Arabia, “and 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. This tour is a continuation of the border-crossing encounters that have marked Edge of Arabia’s work for the past ten years. What began as a friendship between artists has evolved into a platform dedicated to championing artistic voices on the periphery — a mission that was galvanised on the road.”
Founded in 2003 by Stapleton, with support from two of the Middle East’s foremost contemporary artists, Ahmed Mater and Abdulnasser Gharem, Edge of Arabia has made history with pioneering shows across Europe and the Middle East and the establishment of a permanent exhibition space in London.
Abdulnasser Gharem notes, “Edge Of Arabia stands for the power of art to suggest alternative paths for our societies and between our society and the rest of the world. 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.”
The tour begins in Houston, with a vocational exchange programme for six young artists from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Kuwait. The artists have been invited by Edge of Arabia and Art Jameel, with additional support from Tamer Group, to participate in the FotoFest Biennale’s internationally recognised portfolio review programme, The Meeting Place. Artists Nouf Alhimiary, Abdullah Al-Shehri, Huda Beydoun, Ajlan Gharem, Saeed Salem, and Mohammed Sharaf, will take part in four days of workshops with international curators and art professionals to network and present photography-based projects developed in their communities. On 29th March, Edge of Arabia will host a talk featuring these young artists as part of a historic daylong conference on Arab Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
In July 2014, Edge of Arabia will launch a New York residency programme in partnership with Art Jameel and the International Studio & Curatorial Programme (ISCP). Open to artists from across the Middle East, the residency aims to support diverse artistic practices and to immerse artists within the cultural landscape of New York.
This flexible, high caliber program me will allow artists to undertake independent projects and work alongside curators during their four to six month residency, as well as join the ISCP’s esteemed community of international artists.