Naima Morelli

My series on the behind-the-scenes of arts writers’ lives for Plural Art Mag continues with a conversation with Kim Tay.

Tay is a long-standing founding member and Gallery Director of The Artling, an online gallery, art consulting firm, and web magazine.

Here is the link to the piece

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Bashar Alhroub [Zawyeh gallery]

The new Dubai show of Ramallah-based artist Bashar Alhroub looks at his native city Jerusalem as a place with multiple identities. “When you are in Jerusalem,” Alhroub told me, “you never feel you are in one single place. You never feel that the city is belonging to anyone, although everyone claims it as theirs.”

The artist’s new show opened on 14 November at Zawyeh Gallery in Dubai, and last until 5 January. Called “Tracing Boundaries”, the artist focuses on Jerusalem as a religious symbol, while also looking at it as a subject of pop culture. He traces the boundaries between holiness and material culture and invites the visitor to observe a fine line between spirituality and commercial clutter.

I have interviewed the artist for Middle East Monitor

Here is the link to the piece

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We have read over and over again about the routines of our favourite artists, what time they wake up, and how much time they spend thinking about their art compared to creating works. We have seen pictures of hidden corners in their studios and learnt about their favourite brand of oil paints and their go-to factories to realise installations. 

The same goes for curators. We might know the books and theories they reference, and we have become familiar with what drives art collectors. But what is definitely less explored are the joys and sorrows of being an arts writer.

That’s why here at Plural we decided to start a series where we speak with some of the most eloquent arts and culture editors from the region to explore the behind-the-scenes of being a writer.

We kick off the series with Chloe Chu, former Managing Editor at one of the most respected publications in the region and beyond: ArtAsiaPacific (AAP).

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I have written about Indonesian emerging artist Victoria Kosasie – whose work I discovered thanks to the Bandung Contemporary Art Awards – for the November/December issue of ArtAsiaPacific.

Undoubtedly one of the most important magazines about contemporary art in Asia, writing for ArtAsiaPacific has always been a goal of mine since starting researching Southeast Asia more than 10 years ago. This is my second piece for them.

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How a burgeoning Myanmar art scene came to sudden unrest

I wrote once again on the Myanmar art scene for the webmagazine Southeastasia Globe. It’s my first collaboration with them, and it was great to put together a piece which included a number of interviews to artists and other figures in the art world such as Chaw Ei Thein, Louis Ho, Moe Satt, Bart Was Not Here, Nathalie Johnston, Ilaria Benini and Richie Nath.

Most of them had to flee the country, but they were able gave me a picture of the developments of the art scene over the last few years, and how these were abruptly stopped by the recent military coup.

Here is the link to the piece

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Le Monnaye de Paris, ASIA NOW’s location [Naima Morelli]

With its two leading art fairs, Paris + Art Basel and ASIA NOW, as well as exhibitions scattered around the city, Paris Art Week 2022 had an extensive presence of Middle Eastern artists and galleries, and paid strong attention to the current situation in Iran.

I wrote the story for Middle East Monitor.

Here is the link to the article

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It always feels good to be published in Italian, and on paper as well! This is my second time to write about contemporary Southeast Asian art for the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, and the issue I’m looking at is particularly important to highlight for the international community.

I have started to interview a number of Burmese artists who fled the country since the military coup, which happened on 1 February 2021, and other figures in the Myanmar art scene. Their experience is incredibly valuable, and while I speak with them, I also learn what was becoming of the art scene in Burma, and the incredible culture they hailed from.

This new research will take the shape of different articles on different magazines. The cover of the cultural Saturday pages of Il Manifesto, called “Alias”, was entirely dedicated to Burma, and they featured two pieces of mine.

Here is the link to the article online

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Morocco's Btissam Sadini (L) competes against Serbia's Jovana Prekovic in the women's kumite -61kg elimination round of the karate competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 6, 2021.

In this story for Al-Monitor I spoke with four Moroccan female martial arts athletes about cultural stereotypes and how to inspire and empower future generations of female fighters.

Here is the link to the article

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Women artists are gaining more and more relevance and traction in the contemporary art scene in Oman. Although the history of Omani women in art is fairly recent, their work conveys their singular experience and perspective within a continuously evolving culture.

Their artworks are also truly innovative in terms of the use of new technologies and their aesthetics; they’re aligned with the latest trends in contemporary art, yet steeped in historical research. I wrote the story for Middle East Monitor

Here is the link to the article

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Artist and curator Alia Zaal

Responding to Impressionism, UAE artist Alia Zaal studied the natural landscapes of Vétheuil, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, both in their natural and artificial ecosystems, finding connections between her own UAE landscape and the impressionist one. The artist reimagines familiar scenes of the sea, the desert and the city lit by the sun, the moon and street lights.

I have interviewed Alia Zaal for Middle East Monitor.

Here is the link to the piece

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Finally my piece on the Venice Biennale 2022 has been published by Plural Art Mag. While the piece was written in the aftermath of the opening, it came out just now, given the webmagazine’s editorial schedule.

The article is a report, as well as an overview, and it is focused on the Southeast Asian presence, which this year was much smaller compared to previous years.

Here is the link to the piece

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Two Libyan women walk past graffiti depicting Muammar Gaddafi

My first article for Al Jazeera has just been published. It’s called “The writers retelling Libya’s history through a feminist lens” and tells how Libya’s women novelists (but not exclusively them) are reframing the country’s stories in a post-Gaddafi era.

I worked on it for a long time, and it was very satisfying to get to write a longform piece with a bit more of a narrative style. Also, I got to know this county a little deeper, not just through its visual art but also through literature. For the piece I have interviewed, among others, writers Kawther Eljehmi, Maryem Salama, Manuela Piemonte Mahbuba Khalifa, and Mariza d’Anna, and publisher Ghassan Fergiani.

Here is the link to the piece

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