Naima Morelli

In the last couple of years I have been developing a growing fascination with the complexities of Libyan culture. While in my past I have been focused mainly on how Italian artists were looking at colonialism in Libya, now I’m starting to delve on the voices of Libyan artists themselves.

And what a better way of approaching the subject than interviewing Najlaa Elageli for Middle East Monitor. She has greatly contributed to spread the knowledge on contemporary Libyan art in the country and abroad.

Here is the link to the interview

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A steamy cup of black tea and a blank piece of paper. That’s all I need for my favourite end-of-the-year tradition. This December felt called to reflect back at 2020 already in the first half of the month – maybe because I was once again in my family home because of a new lockdown. I started by sorting the pictures for my other blog Gioco di Donne. The photos are testimonies to all the beauty experienced in this year, as of course the ugly parts are seldom captured on camera. Though this is also how my mind works – remembering first and foremost the good – for this year in review I want to look at all the lessons, to get a clearer path for next year.

Ça va sans dire that this year was quite particular. We are all aware of the toll that the pandemic took from all of us – in Italy the situation was particularly severe, especially in the beginning. Like many others, I have spent a good part of this year indoor. The first three months quarantine which started in March, and the second “red zone” from mid-October to December, I moved back to my family home in Sorrento. It wasn’t uncomfortable as I imagined. The disappointment lasted only in the few days before making the final decision to leave my house (and life) in Rome. Back to my hometown, I quickly adapted to the new situation, and the opportunities that it brought forth. There are some things I dropped altogether, some other things I dived into.

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Artist, director and poet Hind Shoufani insists that her Palestinian-ness is a political act. “It is a choice to be on this side of history,” she tells me, “whether we triumph or not, whether I carry some piece of identification paper with blue colours on it, or green colours on it, or rainbow glitter tie-dye on it.”

Middle East Monitor has just published my interview with Hind Shoufani.

Here is the link to the interview

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Among the different research I’m currently conducting around different themes and places in contemporary art, one of the interest trail in Italian colonialism in North Africa.

I have written some pieces about Italian colonialism in Libya, and now I looked at Ethiopia and Eritrea with Eritrean-born artist Dawit L. Petros.

He has focused for over a decade on a critical re-reading of colonialism. His artworks aim for an introspective and textured analysis of the historical factors that determined migrations, and his practice always includes extensive research on the field.

Here is the link to the piece

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Middle East Monitor has just published my interview with Lena Merhej, Karen Keyrouz and Barrack Rima, members of the Lebanese comics collective Samandal

Here is the link to the article

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It’s always a privilege to be able to interview cultural figures I have been admiring for a long time. Since my first inception to Singapore, I wowed at the green architecture of the firm WOHA.

Thanks to a virtual show at Gajah Gallery, I have found out WOHA’s founder Richard Hassell is also an art lover and collector. He curated the show Complex Humour highlighting works by I GAK Murniasih and Yunizar.

Both artists present humourous works overlaid with much more difficult themes, as well as tribal elements.

Here is the link to the interview

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My interview with illustrator and comic book artist Andrea Serio has just been published on the Italian webmagazine Art a Part of Culture.

I have been admiring this artist for many years, and is no exaggeration to say that his art influenced my way of looking at the landscape.

Here is the link to the interview

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The webmagazine Global Comment has just published my interview with Silvia Moresi and Claudia Comito, authors and curators of the book “Arabpop”, a deep dive into the cultural manifestations, shades and consequences of the Arab Springs.

Here is the link to the article

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Nadia Khiari’s satirical cats

I have recently interviewed Tunisian cartoonist Nadia Khiari for Middle East Monitor.

Khiari delivered her disillusioned humour through a cartoon cat called Willis. Appearing in magazines and on signs held aloft by protesters, Willis soon became the iconic “Cat of the Revolution”.

Here is the link to the interview

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Whirling on site at Beit Beirut [Zena el Khalil]

In my research on contemporary art I started to focus a lot on the spiritual values that artists carry with them and let come through their artworks and practice – despite the many hardships they might be facing.

In this sense, the life experience of Zena El-Khalil, a wonderful artist I had the pleasure to interview for Middle East Monitor, is emblematic. We talk specifically of her way of coping with the terrible explosion that has devastated Beirut, and the way art and her spiritual practice have helped her to look for the spring to come.

Kicking off the new season of articles with this interview makes me really proud, warms my heart and encourages me to look at the struggles in life with a different perspective. Hope it will do the same for you:

Here is the link to the article

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Three weeks ago, I met with my friend Rod in Naples and we decided to give up our egos.
He was coming from Rome by train, I was coming from Sorrento by train also and I was very late, since the boats going across the gulf were cancelled.

That was the first time I saw Rod after the lockdown happened in March. Last time we met, we were conjuring up a show in Venice for a leading Indonesian artist, together with another great Asia-expert curator. We were thrilled, and Rod in particular was juggling the excitement for a new curatorial adventure, with the alertness for the new Covid restriction on his workplace, and finally the realization that he had to work on expressing more his emotions.

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Since last time I have stopped to write my reflections here on my blog, the world has changed. This is something I wouldn’t ever expected to live during my lifetime, but here we are. The pandemic, the quarantine. And now slowly resurfacing from it, everything looking so different.

Back from my trip in Malaysia in early January, I had just started a personal process of moving forward. On a personal level, this consisted into re-acclimatizing myself to living alone – having recently experienced health challenges and having left my boyfriend. It consisted into learning to drive a scooter and a car, and starting to approach a new martial art called Systema, along with deepening my yoga practice I started 5-years ago.

On a professional level, the process looked like bringing to fruition my third book, a monography on a Malaysian artist I have been working with for a prestigious gallery in Southeast Asia. I have been writing with more heart and stylistic freedom that ever – slowing down consistently on the journalism to devote to the book only. And – quite crucially – I have been publishing under my own imprint “Red Naima” my “origin” graphic novels from 2009 to 2011.

But, just like everyone was stopped in their tracks by the pandemic, I was forced to go back to my hometown Sorrento, where risk was mitigated. The feeling was initially confusion. Then I went finally back in Sorrento, I was taken over by a wave of excitement for the change the unknown. Then I settled into a new routine, adjusting to the new working demands, conditions, and spaces in the house. And since Italy has started to re-opening again, I’m getting back into my regular work, treasuring the lessons and discoveries from these 50 days of stillness.

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