16 November 2010

L'enfance en partage

I'm honored to be exhibiting with Tunisian artists Sadika Keskes, Fatma Charfi, and Mouna Jemal Siala at the United Nations Office at Geneva, Switzerland. The opening reception will be November 29, and the exhibit will be up through December 28.  The title of the exhibit in English is "Shared Childhood", and is curated by Rachida Triki, a curator and scholar who has written extensively on North African artists.

Just a little information about these fantastic women.  Sadika Keskes has devoted her career to promoting the renaissance of glass-blowing in Tunisia. After building her first furnace in 1984, she researched Punic glass production techniques and introduced them into her workshop. In 1993 she created her first glass-blowing enterprise in Gammarth. Surrounded by glass-blowers that she herself had trained, Ms Keskes opened the doors of her workshop to the general public to allow people from all walks of life to admire decorative objects in blown glass, objects set on hammered silver or filigree, luminaries, garden lamps, tableware etc. In 2001, Ms Keskes created the Art Trades Rehabilitation centre which established a large network of artisans from all across Tunisia.   For the current exhibit, Sadika's installation represents the 400 children who die every day in the world due to the lack of water.

Through complex installation, sculpture and performance works, Fatma Charfi explores the problem of Diaspora. Her work investigates the complexity of displacement, of being a North African woman living in Swiss society. She uses photographs, sculpture and installations to express herself. War has largely influenced her work. During the Gulf War, which she watched on Swiss television, she began to make black Gulf War figurines that she spread over powdered marble. The figurines have spindly appendages that extend outward from a central body and represent all of the people killed in the war. The insect-like forms suggest that the war reduced human beings to nothing more than insignificant insects. She describes the figurines as shadows of all people, as they have no faces and no sexes. Au-dessis, one of Charfi`s pieces that incorporates the figurines, shows them inside clear plastic storage compartments. The compartments represent Swiss society`s and all societies in general boxing people in and not allowing them to be themselves.

Mouna Jemal Siala a photographer who creates multiple-image assemblages. Some observations by Rachida Triki: "...her fundamental preoccupation is a quest to understand the passage of time and the ways in which beings and things change...to capture how life moves in fragments, to capture the diversity of its events and metamorphoses...Mouna Jemal's goal is to play with the incredible richness of the image in order to make it, as she says, "a kind of trompe l'oeil, illusion, mirage, offered to the spectators' eyes." Her works sometimes give the impression of being enigmatic arabesques or ancient carpets with abstract designs.