Naima Morelli

Archive
Middle East

banksyhotel

The webmagazine Middle East Monitor has just published my article on the controversial Walled Off Hotel by graffiti artist Banksy with the title: “Playing with sand in a sandstorm: Palestinians on Banksy’s Walled Off Hotel”. I gathered a few opinions on the subject, by three Palestinians involved in different way with art and an art blogger, then drew my conclusions:

“Banksy’s hotel provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the role of art in sensitive contexts, such as the situation in occupied Palestine. What art needs is not to be more witty or ironic. It should neither become didactic nor necessarily take sides. Artists need to have a heart and some empathy; a capacity and willingness to listen. In order to do that, though, they need to break out from the cage that is their own narcissism. This won’t make the art necessarily cooler, but it would make it more meaningful. More human, in fact.”

Here is the link to the piece

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khalilrabah1

It should written of the information leaflet, like the one you find in medicine boxes: long term exposure to contemporary art changes your way of thinking. It gives you a complexity of thinking and variety of perspective on issues, which is extremely important. For example, the work of Palestinian artists Khalil Rabah – especially his “Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind” is one that urges people re-consider reality in other terms – especially because here the boundaries between artwork and actual history-making institution are really thin. It was a privilege to have the chance to interview him for Middle East Monitor, after having seen his work at MACRO Museum in Rome.

Here’s the link to the interview

 

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georginaadam
Hong-Kong based webmagazine and collector’s platform CoBo has just published my latest article called “Being a collector as a lifestyle choice: Interview with Georgina Adam”.

Writer and journalist Georgina Adam is the author of “Big Bucks: The Explosion of the Art Market in the 21st Century”, an important book which does exactly what is says on the tin: retracing the history and the main players of the art market as we see and experience it today.

We talk about what are the consequences of this market explosion for collectors, the ’80s as the decade in which everything changed and more.

Here is the link to the interview

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memorandamaddah

Middle East Monitor has just published my article about Syrian artist Randa Maddah, whose work has recently been presented in the exhibition “A Hair Tie” at Gallery One in Ramallah, Palestine.

Here’s the link to the article

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TimesofAzerbaijan
I have been following Azerbaijan’s exploits in the contemporary art world for quite a while now, and it has been interesting to look at the backstory behind their success. The opportunity for doing so was given to me by this great and dramatic show by Azerbaijan artist Faig Ahmed at MACRO, Rome.

The show was food for thought itself – confronted with this melting traditional carpets it was impossible to leave Zygmunt Bauman and Aldous Huxley out of the equation. I have written the story for Escape, the Sunday edition of the Times of Malta.

Here’s the link to the piece

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gcElliotAckerman

I’m glad I have a job that allows me to dwell on the many interesting inputs that I get from cultural experiences. I have been recently struck by the novel “Green on Blue”, by American writer and former marine corps special operations team leader Elliot Ackerman, and read a bit about his extraordinary life and work.

“Green on Blue” is a compassionate coming-of-age story, written from the perspective of a young Afghan orphan. The book is a great lesson on empathy and the coexistence of multiple narratives. In his work he touched the culture and the soul of what for him – serving five tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan – was “the enemy”.

While today the majority of intellectuals in the western world reject violence altogether, Ackerman sees violence and war as an inevitable evil. Steering clear from any kind of romanticism or narcissistic elegy of courage, he rather appeals to the concept of responsibility for educated people.

Is it possible to follow orders and practice obedience when you are an intellectual? How to develop empathy towards your enemies, accept their narrative, and still be able to fight, risk your life and kill? Can sensitivity and toughness coexist – and would that really make war less cruel? In this piece for Global Comment I reflected on these problems, drawing my conclusions from the author’s life example and writing.

Here’s the link to the piece

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memopalestinehiphop

My piece “New documentary puts Palestinian hip-hop in the spotlight” has just been published on the webmagazine Middle East Monitor. In this article I interview Giulia Giorgi, director of the documentary “Break the Siege” (Baburka Productions).

This uplifting 20-minute film gives an insight into the Palestinian hip-hop scene. The storyline follows preparations for the “Hip-Hop Smash the Wall” event which took place over the course of one week in Ramallah and Jerusalem in 2014 and brought together hip-hop artists from Palestine and Italy. In the piece I also spoke with Roman graffiti artist Gojo, who tells about his impressions of the hip-hop scene in Ramallah.

Here’s the link to the piece

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memocairobiennale

When we turn our thoughts to contemporary art from Egypt, the first images that come to mind are political graffiti and militant posters. Our idea of Egyptian art is attached strongly to concepts such as uprising, revolution and the Arab Spring. In this piece for the webmagazine Middle East Monitor I look at how the upcoming Something Else Off Biennale Cairo is changing those labels and refreshing the Cairo art scene.

Here’s the link to the article

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memonadiakaabilinke

“I never decide in advance why I want to talk about a subject; it just arises from the context. The wall in particular is a symbol that speaks to me strongly,” says Tunisian-Russian artist Nadia Kaabi-Linke, to explain her new work at Dallas Contemporary gallery. “For me, walls mean separation. But walls are also skins that say something about a city and the people who live there in hidden ways,” she observes. “I have always been interested in revealing the invisible.”

Nadia Kaabi-Linke was born in Tunis in 1978 to a Russian mother and Tunisian father, she studied at the University of Fine Arts in Tunis before receiving a PhD from La Sorbonne in Paris. Her installations, objects and pictorial works are embedded in urban contexts, intertwined with memory and geographically and politically constructed identities. She currently has a solo show, called “Walk the Line”, at Dallas Contemporary in Texas, USA, from September 20 until December 21. I have interviewed Nadia for Middle East Monitor , asking her about her personal path through art, the Tunisian contemporary art scene and the theme of migration in her work.

Here’s the link to the piece

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gckoushna

I’m back at my desk (figuratively) after a few days hiatus. I didn’t go far really. I’m spending summer in my hometown Sorrento and I have been exploring the beautiful surroundings – Positano, Amalfi, Capri, Ieranto and so on – with my partner in crime, curator Roberto D’Onorio. (Here and here our visual diary where we shamelessly glamourize ourselves.)

Back to my beloved work, it was great to see that Global Comment published my interview with Iranian/American/London-based artist Koushna Navabi. I visited her studio one year ago, and I was fascinated by the delicate dark beauty of her art. Koushna left Iran at sixteen and flew to America. In her teen years, she discovered art, and felt in love with Europe. She therefore moved to London to attend the Goldsmith college, in the beginning of the Young British Artists movement.

Today Koushna is a successful artist living in London. Her work addresses the relationship between West and Middle East, Iranian identity and women issues. It is based both on memories and personal experience, but also discusses past and present politics of her native country. She considers art therapeutic for both the artist and the viewer. In this interview we talk taxidermy, orientalism in art, Koushna’s artistic process, her struggles to accept her Iranian identity and her final decision to embrace it.

Here’s the link to the interview

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memotakoua

My interview with Tunisian-born, Italy-based graphic journalist Takoua Ben Mohamed has just been published on Middle East Monitor with the title “Drawing her own story from Douz to Rome”.

“‘I don’t actually read that many comic books,’ laughs Takoua Ben Mohamed. ‘And I have never set foot in a comic book fair.’ Don’t mistake what she says for a snooty, ‘I don’t read comic books, I only make them.’ Make what you’d like to see in the world, they say. More broadly, make something that embodies what you want to see in the world, whatever the medium you choose. It just so happens that the world of speech bubbles and comic strips is Takoua’s cup of tea.”

Here’s the link to the article

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memoclandintergration

British webmagazine Middle East Monitor has just published my article on Clandestine Integration. This project aims to foster dialogue between the African and the European shores of the Mediterranean by inviting artists to share a period on a sailing boat and creating original work on board.

Here’s the link to the article

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