Willem Baars Projects, Amsterdam.
12 May to 12 Jul, 2011
The wave of popular uprisings throughout the Arab world have revealed a New Middle East – young, dynamic, secular, pragmatic and creative – which few people in the West knew about. It did not however come out of nowhere: as this exhibition shows, contemporary Middle Eastern culture has been developing very quickly over these last few years
For a long time ‘Contemporary art from the Middle East’ was considered a misnomer, because modern art was seen as intrinsically Western. But artists from the Middle East and beyond have successfully appropriated and further developed the universal contemporary art idiom by enriching it with local themes and their own hybrid visual language. The increasing presence of art from the Middle East in biennials, art fairs and in leading Western museums bears witness to a dynamic and creative art scene that is poised to also leave its mark on the Dutch scene.
The New Middle East will show the work of six established artists from the wider Middle East. Each of them explores unique positions with regard to contemporary Arab culture. Far from the stereotypes of war, Islamic fundamentalism, female oppression and tribal pride, their works reveal how places such as Cairo, Dubai or Saudi Arabia are entering the 21st century.
The show is curated by Robert Kluijver, specialist in contemporary art from the Middle East, where he grew up and later lived and worked many years. Over the past years he has organized several large-scale overviews in the Netherlands of contemporary Middle Eastern art and written the book ‘Borders’.