April 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Subversion, is an exciting group show curated by Omar Kholeif, featuring artists from the Arab world, at Manchester’s Cornerhouse gallery. It runs from 14 April until 5 June.

The Nation Estate (2012) by Larissa Sansour. The Nation Estate is a sci-fi photo series conceived in the wake of the Palestinian bid for nationhood at the UN. In Sansour’s imagined world, Palestinians finally have their state in the shape of a single skyscraper housing the entire population: the Nation Estate. Each city has its own floor; Jerusalem on the third floor, Ramallah on the fourth, Bethlehem on the fifth. Intercity trips are no longer hampered by soldiers and checkpoints, but conveniently made by elevator.

Autumn Clouds poster from the Gazawood Project (2010) by Tarzan and Arab. One of a series of large-scale flypostered prints of imaginary movies created by the young Gaza-based twins. The film titles the brothers have chosen are all ironic, and each one is named after a randomly computer-generated moniker of an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) military campaign. The installation at Cornerhouse invents a mythical cinema for the body of work.

Virtual Jihadi (2008) by Wafaa Bilal. The origin of the work came from a widely distributed military computer game called The Quest for Saddam, where players fought stereotypical foes in an attempt to murder Saddam Hussein. Al-Qaida soon created a new version, adding a ‘skin’ to turn the game into a hunt for George Bush. Bilal hacked the al-Qaida version to put a spin on the conflict. In his appropriation, the artist casts himself as a converted suicide bomber, who joins al-Qaida after learning his brother has been murdered by US forces.

Of Presidents and Superheroes (2009) by Khaled Hafez. In Of Presidents and Superheroes, Egyptian artist Hafez trades in his traditional canvas paintings in favour of subversive video mashing. Hafez takes tumultuous news footage and intersperses it with an odd animated Anubis figure, which offers a historical juxtaposition to the media’s current violent appropriation of Egyptian culture.

To Be Continued (2009) by Sharif Waked. Here, one of the world’s most adventurous video artists pokes fun at the modality of the suicide bomber video. He correlates that mode of address with the folklore of Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights.


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