Naima Morelli

Artist Manal AlDowayan poses ahead of the opening of the exhibition 'The Future of a Promise' in Venice, Italy on June 1, 2011 [Marco Secchi/Getty Images]

I am just back from Al-Ula in Saudi Arabia, where artist Manal AlDowayan has two shows in the context of the Al-Ula art festival.

I sat with the artist asking her about her partecipation at the upcoming Venice Biennale, and about her work based on both tradition, community partecipation and women in Saudi Arabia.

Here is the link to the interview

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For Palestinian artist Rana Samara, intimacy is not just about love and sex, but is rather a mixture of connection, comfort and feeling at home, as her latest exhibition at Zawyeh Gallery in Dubai in 2022, Inner Sanctuary, aptly demonstrated. I spoke with her for The Markaz Review.

Here is the link to the interview

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In my interview with curator Nadine Khalil for The Markaz Review, we discover the artists on display in Dubai in the exhibition, I Can No Longer Produce the Limits of My Own Body, on view at the Nika Gallery through the 24th of February, 2024.

Here is the link to the article

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Faisal Saleh, founder of Palestinian Museum, speaks during the inauguration of the facility in Woodbridge, Connecticut, April 22, 2018. [HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images]

“A few months ago, the director of the Palestine Museum US, Faisal Saleh, was in a room in Venice with members of the commission for the 2024 Venice Art Biennale. They tried to explain to him why his proposal for a collateral exhibition of Palestinian artists was rejected.

Saleh is not only Palestinian, but also very American in his ethos. So, he told me, when the Biennale spokesperson tried to convince him that art and politics have to be kept separate, he didn’t hesitate to tell them, ‘Well, I may not be as much of an expert on art as you are, but I do know that politics and art are intertwined. You can’t really separate one from the other.’ “

Faisal Saleh, director of the Palestine Museum US has started a petition to have a Palestinian-only collateral show at the Venice Biennale 2024. I spoke with him for Middle East Monitor.

Here is the link to the interview

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Visitors at the second edition of Art SG Singapore

Courtesy of Art SG

I have been in Singapore in the last couple of weeks, to report on the Art fair ART SG and the art week. I wrote a piece on the sales on the preview day for The Art Newspaper. Below a snippet and the link.

“‘Welcome to the tropical jungle,’ reads a sign welcoming visitors to the impressive green wall at Terminal 3 of Singapore Changi Airport. The irony is, of course, that despite its geographical setting, the Lion City is anything but a jungle. Everything it does is planned and in an orderly manner.

This includes a decades-long effort by its government to position the city-state as an art hub for the diverse and organic Southeast Asian art scenes. After some turbulence, the flagship international fair Art SG was launched last year and well received by an art-starved, post-pandemic public, gathering 164 galleries from 35 countries.”

Here is the link to the piece

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Palestinian artist Samia Halaby discusses her latest exhibition,  'Flurrying' | Arab News

“I see the beauty in many places, many times, and I have always wanted to interrupt conversations to point out what I see,” says Palestinian artist Samia Halaby. “I learned not to do so, and share beauty through painting.”

Today in her eighties, Samia Halaby is a pioneer of abstract painting and a central figure in Palestinian art, with an artistic career that started in the late 1950s and was also accompanied by a strong commitment to the liberation of her country. 

I have interviewed the artist for The New Arab.

Here is the link to the interview

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My latest piece for The Financial Times. I have interviewed the Taiwanese artist Su-Hui Yui about his work on collective memories, transgression and technological change in Asian societies that he presented during the Singapore Art Week.

Here is the link to the piece

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I first visited the cultural center Ithra in Saudi Arabia back in April, and I have recently wrote a guide to it for the Uk-based travel magazine Wanderlust.

“Driving up to the centre, in concentric circles around Ithra, is the best way to take in the sleek sculptural silver shape of the building of the cultural center Ithra in Dhahran, in the Eastern Province.

After an initial sense of wonder, curiosity arises about a space fast becoming a leading creative institution, and a bastion for art and cross-cultural experiences in the Saudi art scene.”

Here is the link to the piece

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Along with Jeddah, Riyadh is at the forefront of everything contemporary and trendy in Saudi. The Riyadh art scene is becoming more lively by the day, thanks to an ever-growing calendar of Biennales, festivals, and events.

I wrote for Wanderlust a list of seven of the most interesting art spaces in town, to understand what contemporary art means in a bustling country that is undergoing such rapid social change.

Here is the link to the piece

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I have written the curatorial text for the new show “Descendants of the Dragons” by Singapore-based Kazakh artist Inessa Kalabekova at the Music Box Museum. The show opened on 1 December, and will run until 31 January 2024.

Please find the press release down below.

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Rashed AlShashai, Brand 16, December 2023.

My piece on the light art festival Noor Riyadh has just been published on Al-Monitor.

“Standing in the middle of the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh, a swarm of drones creates delicate constellations on the horizon. A virtuoso is playing the piano on a stage, complementing the 3,000-drone performance conceived by Studio Drift — an artist duo formed by Dutch artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta — called ‘Desert Swarm’.”

Here is the link to the article

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Finally we are in that part of the year where we start looking back and planning for the future. As everyone who has been around me lately knows too well, this year I went all in into the reviewing and the planning. Never was I so serious about it – I guess because it’s so much fun for me!

The reflecting phase started already from the 1st of December. I had just came back from a swirlwind of trips in end of October beginning of November – Paris, Budapest, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh literally one after the other – and even had to say no to two more, very enticing press trips to Khazakistan and Qatar. But I was exausted. I had to stop and digest all my experiences. So as soon as I put my suitcase on the parquet of my home in Pigneto, Rome, I de-installed the social media from my phone, and decided to go full into the reviewing/planning process. 

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