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Arab Programs


Contemporary Arab Video, Photography
and Mixed Media

Ahmed Mater, Later be Past

The 2014 Biennial exhibition, VIEW FROM INSIDE, was an unprecedented presentation of 49 leading Arab artists from 13 countries across the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab program has been received enthusiastically locally and abroad, referred to as “perhaps the largest exhibition to date of contemporary Arab photography and mixed media” art by Al Jazeera America, and was covered significantly by international media outlets. Reviewer Rupert Goldsworthy recently noted in the Arab art journal Contemporary Practices, that VIEW FROM INSIDE illustrates: “a clear view of what the future may hold.”

FotoFest commissioned German curator Karin Adrian von Roques as the Lead Curator for the Biennial. Ms. von Roques is known for her work, over the past 20 years, bringing contemporary Arab art to international museums and galleries throughout the world. She co-curated the 2014 Biennial with FotoFest Co-Founder Wendy Watriss. 

“This exhibition focuses on the works and the voices of artists who are important and pioneering figures in the use of photography and media-related arts in the Arab world,” says lead curator Karin von Roques. “The range and quality of their work vividly reveal the inter-relationships between tradition and change, both regional and global, and how these inter-connections are central to the way contemporary artists engage with the world around them."

The exhibition features video animations and three dimensional works alongside vivid photojournalistic images of recent news events and personal reflections on contemporary Arab life. The works are conceptual and figurative. Many of the works address issues of the diverse and shifting identities of both people and place in Arab life today. The artists confront societal and environmental changes, the rapidity with which they are occurring and how they are affecting traditional relationships with “homeland,” family, religion, gender, diaspora and displacement. Other works look at questions of religious and historical heritage; the legacies of colonialism; and political upheaval.

“The artworks reveal strong connections between contemporary experiences and the histories of the cultures from which they come - their relationship to Arab society today and the world beyond,” says Wendy Watriss, Co-founder of FotoFest International. “With passion, irony and anxiety, they confront the issues of transformation in their social and physical environment. Reflective, critical and often humorous, the artists show a deep engagement with what is happening in the Arab world today. The exhibition is about their voice.

FotoFest brought many of the featured Arab artists to Houston during the Biennial to participate in Biennial programs including lectures, talks, tours and symposiums.

FotoFest’s Arab exhibitions were accompanied by six weeks of Arab programs including an all-day conference, forums and panels, an Arab film program wit the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, concerts, poetry readings, and a related school curriculum.

2014 Biennial Arab Artists
(alphabetized by last name)

Ebtisam AbdulAziz (UAE)
Khalil Abdul Wahid (UAE)
Ammar Al Beik (Syria)
Manal AlDowayan (Saudi Arabia)
Shadia Alem (Saudi Arabia)
Reem Al Faisal (Saudi Arabia)
Sadik Alfraji (Iraq)
Tarek Al-Ghoussein (Palestine/Kuwait)
Boushra Almutawakel (Yemen)
Kalifa Al Obaidly (Qatar)
Jowhara AlSaud (Saudi Arabia)
Sama Alshaibi (Iraq)
Karima Al Shomely (UAE)
Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad
Bin Ahmad Al-Thani (Qatar)
Sami Al-Turki (Saudi Arabia)
Tamman Azzam (Syria)
Lara Baladi (Egypt)
Hicham Benohoud (Morocco)
Ayman Yossri Daydban (Saudi Arabia)
Shady El Noshokaty (Egypt)
Ayman El Semery (Egypt)
Lalla Essaydi (Morroco)
Mounir Fatmi (Morocco)
Lamya Gargash (UAE)

Abdulnasser Gharem (Saudi Arabia)
Joana Hadjithomas and
Khalil Joreige (Lebanon)
Khaled Hafez (Egypt)
Hassan Hajajj (Morocco)
Rula Halawani (Palestine)
Nermine Hammam (Egypt)
Hazem Harb (Palestine)
Hazem Taha Hussein (Egypt)
George Fikry Ibrahim (Egypt)
Noel Jabour (Palestine)
Ahmed Jadallah (Palestine)
Mohamed Kanoo (Bahrain)
Mohammed Kazem (UAE)
Huda Lutfi (Egypt)
Maha Malluh (Saudi Arabia)
Ahmed Mater(Saudi Arabia)
Hassan Meer (Oman)
Samer Mohdad (Lebanon)
Youssef Nabil (Egypt)
Ayman Ramadan (Egypt)
Steve Sabella (Palestine)
Faisel Samra (Saudi Arabia)
Wael Shawky (Egypt)
Camille Zakharia (Lebanon)

FotoFest's VIEW FROM INSIDE Arab Exhibitions are on display in four venues:

Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring Street, Houston, TX 77007
Winter Street Studios, 2101 Winter Street, Houston, TX 77007
Silver Street Studios, 2000 Edwards Street, Houston, TX 77007
Williams Tower, 2800 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056

FotoFest 2014 Biennial - View from Inside
Contemporary Arab Photography, Video and Mixed Media Art

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