Randa Mirza, Untitled from Parallel Universes series, (2006-08) above
Can Altay, Mirrorworld, c-print (2008) below
To describe the state of the major metropolis in the Arab region today only brings forth uncertainty. While some cities are struggling to preserve their ancestral heritage from destruction, investors have a desire to erase the old to usher in the future, other cities are an architects delight with virgin spaces and clients with seemingly endless budgets. Is there room room for diversity? Or will the individuality give way to a new urban hegemony?
The exhibition New Ends Old Beginnings looks at daily life in these cities as the vestiges of the past confront the 21st century. Through each of the works included, the exhibition raises questions concerning heritage and preservation through the artist's perspective. Tradition mixes with experimentation, fact blurs into fiction.
Can Altay's piece Mirrorworld, c-print (2008) looks at an alternative side to daily life for the construction workers in Dubai. Lara Baladi's Surface of Time (2004-07) is a collection of images that the underscores the visual poetics of time and memory. Traditional cuisine is the subject of Ziad Antar's Mdardara, super 8 film, 3min. 2006. The piece is in between video art and a "how to" style film that explores issues concerning daily life, tradition and the domestic sphere through the preparation of a home cooked rice and lentil based Lebanese dish. Randa Mirza's series Parallel Universes (2006-2008) explores the media portrayal of violence in the media. As images of death and suffering are shown in international news sources, the spectator passively observes and in effect becomes a "war tourist".
Other artists included in the show are Cevdet Erek, Tarek Al Ghoussein, Michael Rakowitz, Hrair Sarkissian, Sharif Waked, and Tarek Zaki.
Ziad Antar, still from Mdardara,super 8mm,2006
New Ends, Old Beginnings is curated by November Paynter and is currently at Open Eye Gallery and The Bluecoat in Liverpool opening the 12th of July until the 3rd of September.