Before and After Spring

Co-curators: Diana Baldon, Rachael Rakes

3.10 2015 – 10.1 2016

Malmö Konsthall highlights five international emerging artists whose works reflect on and contribute to artistic and political discourses in the Arab world and its diaspora. Organized in cooperation with the MAFF, Malmö Arab Film Festival, the exhibition explores a range of methodological and aesthetic approaches, and at the same time, examines how artists engage with a variety of contemporary geographic and political realities. Rather than suggesting trends or similarities among artists working in the Middle East and North Africa, this exhibition presents a multitude of concerns and reflections, mirroring the difficulty of classifying an “Arab World” in the first place.

What these artists share is an outward-looking view, pulling from local and global histories to process concerns of today, and aesthetic inventions that have led them to be recognized across the globe. The exhibition is presented in three parts. Participating artists are Bouchra Khalili (MO/FR), Maha Maamoun (EG), Nicène Kossentini (TU), Adelita Husni-Bey (IT/LY) and Ali Cherri (LE).

Ali Cherri mines geological, political, and cultural histories of the region to reflect on possible futures in Lebanon and beyond. In his video, The Disquiet, Cherri examines the many fault lines that run through the country, imagining the area as a matrix of seismic and social catastrophe, and inquiring into the relation between different types of disaster. Similarly, Bouchra Khalili’s Garden Conversation, grafts and historical event over contemporary realities, conjuring new meanings from the archive. In staging past revolutionary moments over the critical conditions of today, Khalili’s projects offer new strategies and discourses of resistance. Furthering in the concept of possibility, Adelita Husni-Bey’s Postcards From the Desert Island tests what a new political system could look like if the opportunity existed to start from scratch. Similar to Khahili, Husni-Bey employs artistic inquiry and collective processes to imagine new models for social organization.

The installation Heaven or Hell, by Nicene Kossentini looks back both to iconic avant-garde artistic practices and to recent revolt throughout the Arab World. The abstract movement and collected sound combine to meditate on the present while enacting tropes of the past, comparing the noise, structure, and icons of art and revolution. As a complement, Maha Maamoun’s video 2026 is a vision of a future Egypt that looks to the possibilities of a far off future, yet remains severely confined by the present’s imagined constraints.