With hurricane Maria sweeping up the Caribbean and the current migration crisis in the Mediterranean resulting in increased deaths, slavery, and xenophobia, WATER /ماء : Trespassing Liquid Highways underscores the geographical pull of the Caribbean and the Mediterranean seas as spaces of contested movements, as liquid highways, and as sites of violence. The exhibition employs Édouard Glissant’s Archipelag thought as an analytical framework to investigate the relationality of the Mediterranean and the Caribbean seas. Through painting, collage, sculpture, video, poetry and performance, the artists examine movements within/inside/under/around the body of/and water from multi-layered perspectives—questioning colonialist and orientalist notions of paradise and uncovering forgotten transnational entanglements.
WATER /ماء : Trespassing Liquid Highways uses transnational thought as an analytical framework to perform an intricate disclosure of the intimacies that bind the seas’ shared history. Glissant writes, “Peoples do not live on exception. Relation is not made up of things that are foreign but of shared knowledge. This experience of the abyss can now be said to be the best element of exchange.” Archipelagic thinking opens up new possibilities of interpreting the ways in which the works in the show help to think through issues of racial subjugations, colonialism, imperialism, and misremembered histories of slavery. Within this vein, this exhibition crystallizes the theory that both the Caribbean and the Mediterranean are key centers that shaped the creation of the Western world and its unfurling history—looking into the political impositions of colonialism, the fluid economy of slavery and the exploitation of black and brown bodies in the creation of white wealth.
Colonial and Oriental representations of the Caribbean and Mediterranean lands, especially former colonies, are portrayed through a Eurocentric lens of the West vs. the Rest. By placing these artists side by side, WATER /ماء : Trespassing Liquid Highways is challenging the western gaze and reclaiming representation of their identities. Beyond white liberal narratives of the exotic paradise, the artists featured in the exhibition present work that binds beauty to social issues, and traditional aesthetics to contemporary inequalities.
PROGRAMS & EVENTS
- Monday, September 10, 2018 // 6:00-8:00 pm: Join Gallery 102 and curator Ikram Lakhdhar for the opening reception of WATER/ ماء : Trespassing Liquid Highways and a performance by DC-based, Iranian-American artist Rex Delafkaran. Commissioned to create a site-specific performance, Delafkaran embarked on a task to conceptualize water as border and exile, but also redemption and ceremony. In “The way you say I’m trying,” 2018, Delafkaran explores a sense of violence and tenderness. Influenced by the experiences and critiques of the artists in this exhibition and her family, she is exploring the polarization of homelands, the volatility of borders and the language of such issues. Utilizing the tension of a voice muffled by water, and movements that are illustrating a conversation difficult to have in spoken language, the work embodies elements of resistance, security, and un-safety. What languages do we have at our disposal to contend with such prejudices, violence and displacement? “The way you say I’m trying” expresses a confusion and feeling, and moment of response. Light food and refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, click here.
- Friday October 12, 2018 // 6:00-8:00 pm: Join Gallery 102, curator Ikram Lakhdhar, and artists for the closing reception and an evening of poetry for WATER/ ماء : Trespassing Liquid Highways with a special recital in Arabic and English by the poet Zeina Azzam. Light food and refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, click here.
Ikram Lakhdhar is a Tunisian art historian and curator. Her academic and curatorial practice investigate transnational feminism, critical race and queer theories, arts politics and performance studies, Arab and Muslim poetics and the politics of representation in visual culture. She has presented research and spoken at panels at universities, galleries, and museums including NYU’s Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, the Jerusalem Fund, the Washington Project for the Arts, Transformer, the Parking Gallery in Johannesburg and others. She has published articles, exhibition reviews and catalogue essays with DIRT, Arts.Black, BmoreArt, Common Field’s Field Perspectives, and more. She previously curated an exhibition entitled Moments of Freedom: Revolutionary Art from Tunisia, South Africa and China gaining international impact on the Arab Spring. She is the recipient of scholarships from the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies, the Valetta 2018 Curatorial School, and the Getty-CIMAM travel award. She holds an M.A. in Arts Politics from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and a B.A. in International Relations, a self-design major in Art and Politics and a certificate in Museum Studies from Connecticut College. She currently holds positions as the Communication + Network Membership Manager at Common Field and the Co-Founding Editor at DIRT.
Anahita (Ani) Bradberry is an Iranian-American multimedia artist and writer based in the DC and Brooklyn. She earned a BA and MA in modern and contemporary non-Western art with a focus on Japan from American University’s feminist art history program, earning a Mellon Institute Travel Grant to spend 3 months in Tokyo in 2015. Interested in challenging predetermined power structures in the global contemporary art machine, Anahita walks the line between artist and critical art writer to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural power of radical creativity. Her work combines illuminated rare gasses within natural and industrial materials, often exploring a state of alienation that is defined by oscillating identities and cultural memory. Her work finds balance within handmade elements and cold, factory-fabricated parts. Anahita has been featured in exhibitions at the Washington Project for the Arts, Transformer, VisArts, the Smith Center, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Gallery 102 and CICA — the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art.
Ellington Robinson is based in Washington, D.C. and the Virgin Islands. He earned his BA in English from Morehouse College, a diploma in filmmaking from the New York Film Academy in Paris, and his MFA in Painting and Mixed Media from the University of Maryland, College Park where he received the Anne Truitt Fellowship, David C. Driskell Graduate Assistant Fellowship, and David C. Driskell Award of Excellence Teaching Fellowship. His work is included in many distinguished public and private collections. Most recently his work was acquired by the nation’s first museum of modern art, the Phillips Collection museum in Washington, D.C.; the US Department of State, Art in Embassies Program for the US Embassy of Oslo, Norway and the City of Chicago for Grand Crossing Library. His work was recently published in “Fired Up! Ready to Go!: Finding Beauty, Demanding Equity: An African American Life in Art. The Collections of Peggy Cooper Cafritz,”; Washington Post, Interview Magazine, and Callaloo: Art & Culture in the African Diaspora. He is a recipient of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Art Bank Collection (2011 and 2012), and DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Fellowship Award (2015). He lectured with David C. Driskell on Artists and Mentorship at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. In the Virgin Islands. Ellington has also been honored as a US Virgin Islands Ambassador for his contribution to and promotion of the cultural richness of the territory and the Caribbean (2013). He was also selected for an artist residency at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts in St. Croix, which he completed in 2015 and The Fountainhead Residency in Miami in June of 2018.
Helen Zughaib was born in Beirut, Lebanon, living mostly in the Middle East and Europe before coming to the United States to study art at Syracuse University, earning her BFA from the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Helen currently lives in Washington, DC, and works fulltime as an artist. Her work has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States, Europe and Lebanon. Her paintings are included in many private and public collections, including the White House, World Bank, Library of Congress, US Consulate General in Vancouver, Canada, the American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, the Arab American National Museum in Detroit and the DC Art Bank and Washingtonian collections. She has received the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowship grant in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and the Puffin Foundation grant also in 2017. Helen was an artist in residence at both George Mason University, Virginia, creating a silkscreen with Navigation Press and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Her paintings have been included in several Art in Embassy exhibitions abroad, including Brunei, Nicaragua, Mauritius, Iraq, Belgium and Lebanon. Helen was invited as US Cultural Envoy through the US Department of State, to Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and France, under the US Department of State’s Speaker and Specialist Program. Her paintings have been gifted to heads of state by President Obama and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
Ilyes Messaoudi is a young visual artist born in Tunis in 1990. He is working through time, between tradition and modernity. The artist insolently plays with the notions of fusions and identity confusions, awakened by a cultural revolution. With his painting, his sequins and his collages, he becomes a griot of the present time, a naive and ironic wizard. As many perceptible contrasts as materials to mix and stories to tell. These contrasts… The rapidity, the thinking, emergency and eternity, eastern and western world. Through this adaptation of The Tales of Arabian Nights, the artist is digging, exploring a thousand and one taboos, a thousand and one doubts, a thousand and one emotions, the ones that keep haunting us. His nights are sweet and agitated, with pastel or deep colors. The scenes are corresponding and colliding, according to the confusing but hopeful everyday news. This is a neverending quest, painting after painting, for reaching the culmination of the tale’s promise to live a wonderfully bright night.
Rex (Alexandra) Delafkaran is an Iranian-American interdisciplinary artist, dancer and curator from California, currently based in Washington, DC. She uses movement and objects to explore the rich tensions between bodies, intimacy, language and identities. Upon receiving her degree in Ceramics and Performance Art from the San Francisco Art Institute, she has now worked and exhibited in Southern Exposure Gallery, Diego Rivera Gallery, Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Panoply Performance Lab, and others. While working at Hamiltonian Gallery as Gallery Manager and teaching at the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, Rex continues to perform, write and exhibit, making sculpture out of Red Dirt Studios.
Sama Alshaibi (b. Basra, Iraq, 1973), is a multi-media artist who employs the use of photography, video/object hybrids, and installation. Alshaibi’s practice explores spaces of conflict, post-war and migration to tease out issues of citizenship and power. Alshaibi’s monograph, “Sama Alshaibi: Sand Rushes In” (New York: Aperture, 2015) presents her “Silsila”series, which probes the human dimensions of migration, borders, and environmental demise. “Silsila” was exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale, Honolulu Biennial, Qalandia International Biennial, Marta Herford Museum of Art (Germany)and solo exhibitions at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (AZ, 2016), and the Johnson Museum of Art (Cornell University, NY, 2017). Alshaibi has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Bronx Museum (NYC), Arab American National Museum (Michigan), FotoFest Biennial (Houston), Tucson Museum of Art, Museum De Wieger (Netherlands), HilgerBROTKunsthalle (Vienna), CCS Bard Hessel Museum & Galleries (Bard College, NYC), Headlands Center for the Arts (California), Institut Du Monde Arabe (Paris), Maraya Art Center (UAE), Ayyam Gallery (London/Dubai), Thessaloniki International Film Festival (Greece) and 24th Instants Video Festival (Mexico and France). She received a Fulbright Scholars Fellowship to the West Bank, Palestine (2014-2015) and titled University of Arizona’s ‘1885 Distinguished Scholar’, where she is Professor of Photography, Video & Imaging.
Scherezade Garcia is an interdisciplinary visual artist born in Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic and based in Brooklyn, New York. Through her practice of drawing, painting, installation, sculpture, animated videos and public interventions, she creates contemporary allegories of history, colonization and politics. Scherezade’s work is included in the permanent collection of The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington DC, El Museo del Barrio in NYC, The Housatonic Museum of Art in CT, and El Museo de Arte Moderno in Santo Domingo.She has exhibited at museums and art centers such as The Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington DC, El Museo del Barrio, NYC, The Newark Museum of Art in NJ, The Sugar Hill Museum, BRIC in Brooklyn and others.Her solo exhibitions include “Super Tropics” at Lyle O Reizel Gallery in Santo Domingo , DR,”Paradise redefined” at Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx, NY; and “Theories of Freedom” at The Humanities Art Gallery in Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY, This Side of Paradise-No Longer Empty, Andrew Freedman Mansion , Bronx, NY, “Souvenir” at The Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ; “Stories of Fallen Angels” at ElMuseo de Arte Moderno, Santo Domingo, DR; “Tales of freedom” Mary Anthony Gallery and at Leonora Vega Gallery, NYC, “The liquid Highway”, commissioned by Columbia University and BRIC. She is currently represented by Lyle O Reitzel Art Gallery in Santo Domingo, and is faculty at Parsons the New School for Design in NYC.
Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and author of the chapbooks Ebb(Akashic Books, 2018) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press. She is the recipient of scholarships from the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, The Frost Place, and the Key West Literary Seminar, a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Cleveland State University, where she is the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Publishing and Writing. Her poems have received awards from Ploughshares‘ Emerging Writer’s Contest, Narrative’s 30 Below Contest, and the Academy of American Poets, and appear in Ploughshares, Tin House, American Poetry Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere.
Zeina Azzam is a Palestinian American writer, poet, editor, and community activist. She volunteers for organizations that promote Palestinian human rights and the civil rights of vulnerable communities in Alexandria, Virginia, where she lives. Her poems have been published in several online publications, literary journals, and edited volumes. Zeina holds an M.A. in Arabic literature from Georgetown University.
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Gallery 102 is located at 801 22nd St. NW.