Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 11 December 2019

Barjeel Art Foundation and Aga Khan Museum team up for joint exhibition

Manal al-Dowayan. Suspended Together – (Standing Dove, Eating Dove), 2012. porcelain 20 x 10 x 23 cm each. Image by Niccolò Corradini, Capital D Studio
Manal al-Dowayan. Suspended Together – (Standing Dove, Eating Dove), 2012. porcelain 20 x 10 x 23 cm each. Image by Niccolò Corradini, Capital D Studio

This summer, Sharjah’s Barjeel Foundation will have its first exhibition in Canada at the prestigious Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.

Curated by Suheyla Takesh, Home Ground explores the connections we feel to space and the ever-fluid notion of identity in relation to the place of home.

Featuring works of 12 artists from Barjeel’s extensive collection of modern and contemporary Arab art, the exhibition has been tightly presented to investigate this constantly relevant issue.

Highlights of the exhibition include Khaled Jarrar’s Volleyball – a sculpture of a sports ball made from reconstituted concrete from the Apartheid Wall in Palestine. It offers a poetic response to conversations held with Palestinian children playing by a section of the wall near Ramallah.

Saudi artist Manal al-Dowayan’s ephemeral installation Suspended Together – ceramic doves with the women’s travel documents printed on their wings - is also a key part of the show. It subtly critiques the position of women in contemporary Saudi society.

Adel Abidin’s video Memorial explores how ordinary life is violated by political events such as the First Gulf War and Raafat Ishak’s Responses to an immigration request from one-hundred and ninety-four governments serves as a witty but poignant testament both to challenges experienced by many immigrants and to the creativity of artists worldwide.

A personal favourite for me are the images from Larissa Sansour’s series Nation Estate, which offers a fantastical and futuristic response to the Palestinian situation. She imagines a skyscraper within which each floor represents a different city or area in the occupied land.

“The struggles involved in protecting (or securing) one’s right to be in a place, to move freely from one territory to another, and to gain a sense of inclusion … tend to be complex and intricate; they often do not result in conclusive resolution, and are sometimes taken up without reasonable prospect of arriving at desired outcomes,” writes Takesh in her introduction.

Takesh has cleverly underlined the entire exhibition with the Greek myth of Sisyphus, an ancient king who was stuck in a perpetual state of failure, pushing a boulder up the hill only to watch it fall down again. This gives the show weight and gravitas that ensures it will be an enlightening experience for those lucky enough to be able to be in Canada to see it.

* Home Ground: Contemporary Art from the Barjeel Art Foundation runs from July 25 – January 3. For more information visit the Aga Khan Museum’s website

Updated: June 9, 2015 04:00 AM