“I want to show that women have been suppressed. Sewing helps me to articulate this problem.” Ghada Amer discusses embroidery, mainstream beauty and creating ceramics with her unfamiliar left hand.

Images of suggestively-posed white women looted from men’s porn magazines are the starting point for Ghada Amer’s embroidery paintings on canvas. Needle and thread, traditionally considered women’s craft, reclaims the two-dimensional from the male-dominated history of painting.

Amer and I first spoke in a Dubai hotel lobby two years ago, just before her show Earth. Love. Fire. opened at Leila Heller’s 15,000 square foot Alserkal Avenue showplace, marking a return to the Arab world after more than two decades. Our voices were drowned out by drab brown birds gossiping in the pink bougainvillea beyond our table. Although the Heller exhibition did hint at Amer’s erotic figures (and marked the first viewing of a new medium for the artist’s ceramics, which were the product of a residency at New York’s Greenwich House Pottery) there was a degree of self-censorship at play. There were topics demanding discussion that would not be printed by any regional publication. We agreed to meet again.

Amer and I reconnected in the US as she prepared for an untitled solo show at Cheim & Read in New York, set to open 5 April, presenting a new body of paintings and ceramic sculptures that feel like a shrewdly-honed continuation. Amer shares a cluttered studio with Reza Farkhondeh, who she met while still a student at the Villa Arson in Nice, France and with whom she often collaborates. They are in the midst of renovating a new space in Harlem. Our conversation begins where we left off, dissecting the unexpected sense of freedom Amer experiences whenever she experiments with ceramics.

DL: You are right-handed and yet often force yourself to sculpt with your left. Why? 

Ghada Amer: I began the left-handed sculptures when I started making ceramics in 2014. I was almost like a young child, suddenly realizing I have a left hand. I was noticing what the left hand could form. It was like surrealism, to see what it made on its own.

Read More…

Image Credit: Ghada Amer, Girl with Garden Carnation (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Cheim & Read, NY

0
Share

Curiously, 2017 was both the year of the naked dress and the year that the modest movement took flight. On one side, Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid flaunted their ultra-sheer fishtail gowns and on the other, former Vogue Arabia cover star Halima Aden took the fashion world by storm as the breakout model at the forefront of modest dress. The latter movement generates billions of dollars in annual revenue both in Muslim countries and beyond. Those who supported the naked dresses called women’s decisions to bare all empowering and even a feminist statement. No one mentioned dressing to attracted, repel, or subdue men.

Read More…Vogue Arabia Feb 2018

0
Share

The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s auditorium program manager, Noor Suwaidi – a painter and curator in her own right – saw her first original work of art at age 23 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. She says, “I studied art from slides and books. I had tears in my eyes in that gallery. Now I’m 36, and the fact that this is in my own backyard, right by my house, opens up a whole other dimension.”

It has taken a decade of behind-the-scenes footwork to prepare for the groundbreaking Louvre Abu Dhabi in Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District to finally open its doors to the public on November 11. The museum’s presence is intended to solidify Abu Dhabi as a cultural catalyst for the region, and will also give generations of locals and residents the experience of coming face to face with masterpieces – an encounter with the power to change the course of someone’s life. Some of the most remarkable members of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s team are Emirati women with impeccable educations and professional backgrounds. These include Suwaidi, as well as assistant curator Alia Zaal Sultan Lootah and registrar Najla Busit, who supervises logistics and installations of priceless works on loan from France. Hissa Al Dhaheri serves as deputy director.

I phone Al Dhaheri for an interview from Boston on the first icy day of fall. I picture her at the other end of the line tethered to a laptop at the close of the workweek, perched cross-legged on her overstuffed floral couch in the family majlis, the place she admits to spending all her spare time of late – that is, when she isn’t pulling a frequent all-nighter at the office. Al Dhaheri is a competitive perfectionist who doesn’t do anything halfway.

Read More…

0
Share

FEATURE. “I am a good listener, a kind of psychiatrist even,” says the Beirut-based wedding designer Ziad Raphael Nassar who likes to envision a couple’s dynamic even before envisioning the setting for an event. “Most people will speak a certain way about themselves, but in the end they are not like that. I often go out to dinner with them to see what kind of restaurant they choose, how they interact.” Nassar has become the go-to event planner for Arab royals and A-listers since founding his studio Once in 2009, and has designed more than 100 spectacular weddings in the region. His background as a advertising director and painter ensures that each is given individual flair.

 

“A wedding has to give a wow effect almost like a fairytale,” he says. “It’s not about showing how much money the couple has, but reflecting their personalities in a creative way.” Although the end result is invariably opulent, it can take a stretch of the imagination, and trust in Nassar’s skill, to picture the transformation at the outset, especially if the blank canvas is insalubrious.

Read More…

0
Share