Arabs Dream Electric Sheep
Do Arabs Dream of Electric Sheep?
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ICD Brookfield Place Arts is hosting the group show “Do Arabs Dream of Electric Sheep?” curated by Adam HajYahia, a Palestinian researcher and culture producer. It features emerging and established artists from the region: Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Haitham Haddad, Meriem Bennani, Tracy Chahwan, and Walid Bouchouchi (Studio Akakir). In their displayed works (five in total), the artists reimagine common views of what the Arab society’s future might look like. Building on Arab and regional traditions, they let us view regional realities through a critical lens.

In the show, Tracy Chahwan’s series of jacquard blankets is displayed. The artist drew her inspiration from the stories which traditional rugs and carpets tell. In the exhibited artworks, she shows what that approach would look like in the future.

Akakir Studio, the design studio of Walid Bouchouchi, presents With Fono-type: 45 posters depicting letterforms of an imaginary script. It is the result of Bouchouchi’s try to unite three languages co-existing in Algiers (Tamazight, Arabic, and French) — their phonetic systems, to be precise.

Walid Bouchouchi, Fono-type.

Artist Haitham Haddad’s installation comprises large-scale, brightly coloured banners hanging from the ceiling and the fans set underneath. Inspired by flags of governments, the banners depict Arabic numerals and letterforms, pictures of storks and people. An explanation of these symbols can be found on the screens underneath the banners. The idea behind Haddad’s artwork is to turn away from language as the way of communication and focus on image and symbolism.

The exhibition showcases Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s art piece titled “At those terrifying frontiers where the existence and disappearance of people fade into each other”. In this video and panel installation, it’s suggested that while numerous sci-fi Western narratives of the future are based on a catastrophe, a lot of Arabs have already undergone it somehow.

Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, At those terrifying frontiers where the existence and disappearance of people fade into each other. 4 Channel channel video, 2-channel sound, 10’54, Wooden boards (variable size). Live performance (video, vocals, sound).

In the show, one can watch Meriem Bennani’s video work “Party on the Caps”. It is about an imaginary island in the future called Caps which is a holding space for those who try to teleport into the USA. According to HajYahia, the work talks about migration from the perspective of the body: how being intercepted affects one physically.

Meriem Bennani, Party on the CAPS, 2018-2019. 8-channel video installation, 30 minutes. Overall dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and C L E A R I N G, New York / Brussels. Photo: JSP Art Photography.

About the artists

Basel Abbas (b. Nicosia, Cyprus, 1983) and Ruanne Abou-Rahme (b. Boston, USA, 1983) live and work between New York and Palestine. They work together across sound, image, text, installation, and performance practices. In their work, they mostly explore how communities endure the consequences of oppressive political systems and create potential within this context.

Haitham Haddad (b. 1989) is a Palestinian illustrator, visual artist, and graphic designer who resides in Haifa, Palestine. Haitham is also the owner and creative director of Studio Mnjnk. His art is influenced by costume history, queer culture, religious iconography, children books and graphic novels, marginalized subcultures and punk movements, and 90’s futurism.

Meriem Bennani (b. 1988, Rabat, Morocco) is a Moroccan artist residing in New York City, New York, USA. Her artistic practice involves video, sculpture, multimedia installation, drawing, and using digital technologies (3D animation, projection mapping, and motion capture). In her work composed with humor, Bennani interlaces references to globalised pop culture with the vernacular and traditional representation of Moroccan culture and history.

Tracy Chahwan is a Lebanese cartoonist and illustrator who works with the Beirut music scene, designing posters and visuals for venues and concerts. Her art is inspired by Beirut’s streets, strong female characters, and punk music.

Walid Bouchouchi (born in Algiers) is a graphic designer and art director who lives in Marseille and works between Paris, Marseille, and Algiers. Creating bridges between various systems of graphic expressions, he elaborates a multi-scriptural visual language in which several cultures coexist. In 2016 in Paris, Bouchouchi founded Studio Akakir, which specializes in artistic direction, visual identities, and editorial communication.

The exhibition will be closed on June 6, 2023. To learn more, please visit its official web page.

You may also be interested in visiting New Perspectives at Foundry.