‘Thread of Light’ is a group art exhibition that brings together contemporary artists from across the Middle East to explore the relationship between the global, the regional, the local and the personal. In doing so, the exhibition complicates our understanding of the Middle East region and its politics, cultures and societies while demonstrating that the region “is full of exciting contrasts and subtle nuances”.
After co-curating the ‘In Between’ show at the Saatchi Gallery, ‘Thread of Light’ is Asmaa Alanbari ‘s latest contribution to the vibrant London art scene. Joining her as an assistant curator is Joud Halawani Al-Tamimi, curator of the 2017 edition of the Arab Women Artists Festival.
The show brings together a British and Middle Eastern mix of artists including: Hassan Hajjaj, Hanaa Malallah, Kennardphillipps, Dia Batal , Estabrak Al Ansari, Souheil Sleiman, Helen Kirwan, Ozlem Demirel, Jo Scorah, Shadi Mahsa and Asmaa Alanbari.
Kennardphillipps’ work is a protest against rising attacks on civil rights, not only in America but also beyond. Souheil Sleiman makes us think about the environment, while alluding to the current global crisis of migration. This theme is further explored by Jo Scorah and Helen Kirwan, who reflect on exile and self protection. Hajjaj tells us about a melting pot of influences that bridge East and West by bringing together global consumer brands with everyday locally sourced objects from his native Morocco. Hanaa Malallah’s video confronts a drone with an age old archeological masterpiece, a ziggurat in Iraq. Asmaa Alanbari’s “Eve with Charlie Hebdo” then highlights the link between the global and the personal, suggesting that global events, like the Charlie Hebdo occurrence get inscribed onto our bodies and memory.
On a more intimate level, Shadi Mahsa’s portrait is an exploration of contemporary identity and tradition. The same subject is addressed differently by Estabrak Al Ansari’s use of underwater photography. Dia Batal transforms written poetry into three dimensional design objects, spanning a range of subjects from desire to belonging to a homeland and more. Finally, Ozlem Demirel’s work, concerned with questions of aesthetics, explores the physical interplay of light, weight and gravity in a playfully spiritual installation.
Chief curator, Asmaa Alanbari said, “These artists indirectly highlight our common humanity through their work that references topics we are all preoccupied with, across different languages, cultures and religions.”
The exhibition opens to the public at P21 Gallery on Wednesday, 17th of May and runs until Wednesday 31st of May.