“Arab Spring”

“Stories of Change—Beyond the ‘Arab Spring'” exhibition gives a glimpse into Post-Arab Spring condition

Until 26 August 2015, the exhibition “Stories of Change—Beyond the ‘Arab Spring’” will be available for viewing at the Humanity House in The Hague, Netherlands. World Press Photo, the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Humanity House have designed the “Stories of Change—Beyond the ‘Arab Spring’” exhibition. The aim of the exhibit is to show, from the inside, the everyday life of North Africa. The examined themes are varied and include the decline of tourism in Tunisia, African migrants in Algeria and the conditions of single mothers in Morocco among others. All the themes addressed by the photographers and multimedia artists have at least one point in common: they focus on the posterity of the Arab Spring and its consequences, positive or negative, on the population. In addition to the photographs displayed, “Stories of Change—Beyond the ‘Arab Spring’” provides contextual elements: videos are projected, as well as chronological friezes which retrace the strong moments of the Arab Spring with the aim of giving the viewer an exhaustive documentation. The set of photos, accompanied by the context in which they were taken, are available...

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“We must protect freedom, and freedom will protect everything else.”: Interview with Mounir Fatmi

Paris, 19 November 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). There is a lot going on for artist Mounir Fatmi at the moment. His solo exhibition entitled “Intersections” at the Keitelman gallery in Brussels ended on 31 October 2013, in which he presented the work Impossible Union. This piece is on display at the Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf until 2 February. But that’s not all. He is exhibiting in Casablanca at both Fatma Jellal and the French Institute until 2 December. AMA met with the single-minded artist whose works have become an essential part of the contemporary arts scene. Some of your works which were exhibited at the Keitelman in Brussels were also presented at Paris Photo on the stand of gallery Analix Forever, at the Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf. The title of the Brussels exhibition “Intersection” echoes as the central thread of your work. How did you come up with the theme of the exhibition? The idea presented itself after several discussions with the gallery while we were preparing for the exhibition: we were talking about an “intersection” for most of my works, whether between mediums, histories, language, etc. It quickly became apparent that it should be the title of the exhibition. It is the idea of elements which cross one another, which touch, but these meetings can also be violent in the way that accidents often are, for example. You begin the press release with a quote from a twelfth century Muslim theologian Fakhr ad-Dîn ar-Râzî, who is somewhat of a pessimist, and concludes that two elements cannot join together. Could you tell us more about this? The complete sentence is: “If two things come together, the two continue to exist and therefore remain two distinct realities, or they disappear to become a third, different thing, or only one...

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Syrian artist released by authorities

Syria, 30 September 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). Youssef Abdelke, a leading Syrian artist, has been released after being held for more than two months by Syrian authorities. The artist was arrested, with two colleagues, at a checkpoint in Tartous, by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The 62-year-old condemned Assad’s regime, and has recently signed a petition initiated by Syrian artists calling for his dismissal. A former member of the Syrian communist party, Abdelke was jailed in the country from 1978 to 1980, moving to Paris after his release, before returning to Syria in 2005. In August 2013, he posted a statement on his Facebook page, stating that he was “healthy and in anticipation of leaving the palace of justice, free as [he] has always been”. His wife, Ala Yakoub, launched an online appeal for his release. Abdelke produces still lifes, some of which are held in the collection of London’s British Museum. He has participated in fairs including the 2011 Sharjah Biennial, and the 2001 Cairo...

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The Malawi National Museum begins to recover stolen goods

Cairo, 24 September 2013, Art Media Agency (AMA). According to an article published in The Art Newspaper, 13 objects which had been taken during looting of the Malawi National Museum have been found, following an undercover operation by Egyptian police. The return of the objects was accompanied by the arrest of a butcher, who had attempted to sell stolen goods to an undercover policeman acting as a potential buyer. It is the first arrest to have taken place in relation to the sacking of the museum. Objects recovered so far include a statue of the god Thoth, and a group of 6 terracotta statuettes. The thefts took place during a significant period of looting which occurred throughout August 2013, resulting in the damage and theft of at least 1,060 pieces from the museum’s collection, which comprised 1,089 works in total. 400 objects have already been returned to the museum, and UNESCO sent an on-site team to work with the institution between 11 and 16 September. Inspectors indicated that, although the building was relatively undamaged, 600 cultural goods were still missing. Minister Mohammad Ibrahim has vowed to do whatever it takes to gather information about the thefts, and has offered small rewards to those who return...

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Interview with Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Hinz, President of ICOM

Formed in 1946, today ICOM is one of the world’s most significant bodies in the management of museums internationally. Prof. Dr Hinz has been President of ICOM since 2010. A Doctor of Natural Sciences, Hans-Martin Hinz began his museum career as Advisor for the establishment of new museums for the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in West Berlin, Germany. From 2000 to 2001, he was Deputy Minister of Culture (Staatssekretär) for Berlin and has also occupied several positions in national and international museum institutions. Art Media Agency spoke to Hinz to understand some of the challenges currently faced by museums and cultural institutions, and to gain an insight into his activies with ICOM. Could you briefly present ICOM to us? The International Council of Museums (ICOM) is one of the largest international cultural organisations. We have thirty thousand members in almost 140 states. ICOM was founded in 1946, right after the Second World War, and is organised into National Committees all over the world and International Committees dedicated to specific museum functions: museum security, education, conservation and so on. This model helps to increase communication between museum professionals about recent developments and new strategies for museums. Both museums and visitors benefit from this international dialogue, because it allows them to present and understand culture and history in a more international way, respecting the views of a diverse range of cultures. This is quite different from the work museums did in the 19th or 20th centuries. Now, there are many institutions worldwide which follow this line, presenting a dialogue which is both cultural and historical, and which is very much international. You’ve been directing ICOM for the past three years, are you happy with what’s been achieved so far? Of course! We have done a lot over the past three years...

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