Naima Morelli

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Essay

The Financial Times has just published two articles of mine on a special supplement focused on Southeast Asian art, coming out in conjunction with the Singapore Art Week.

In this first piece I highlight the presence of Mynmar art at the art fairs in Singapore this January. It’s part of my ongoing investigation on Myanmar art within the current complicated political scenario of the country

Here is the link to the piece

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How to define this year? I’d say, the first six months were spent living to the fullest, going deep into feeling and emotions, both positive and negative. The second half of the year was spent working blissfully, in alignment, building on the life force that was experienced in the first part of the year. 

With living through so much heightened emotion, my heart was never empty. That included some very tough moments, which taught me that beauty is always the cure. In the hardest moments, when you are called to rise up to the occasion, keep carrying on, emboding a stoicism of sorts, you can still look up and notice how the sky and the earth looked like their were painted by El Greco. An yes, we might not measure up to the challenge – not immediately. We might still feel the urge to run away and not endure it. Not to sacrifice oneself – which in the Latin root of the word means “make sacred”. But we can still do our best to keep practicing what’s right.

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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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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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There is but one truth spoken in many different languages. This belief lies at the core of Indonesian artist Eddy Susanto’s practice. With his artworks that examine the cultures of Europe and Java, he signals to us that while the forms, protagonists and settings of each culture’s mythologies differ, they ultimately convey similar fundamental truths about humanity. 

Over the years, Eddy Susanto has reframed how the East and West meet. The Jakarta-born, Yogyakarta-based artist is on a mission to uncover the culture and seminal texts which are the patrimony of the Javanese. However, some of these have been forgotten over time, due to reasons such as the limits of oral transmission, the impact of colonialism and, later on, mass culture.

I have written about Eddy Susanto’s show I have curated in Venice for Plural Art Mag.

Here is the link to the piece

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Filipino curator Patrick Flores really likes the word “complicated.”

He actually uses it a lot as a verb: “complicating.” I find this lexical choice so compelling that sitting across him at a Formica table in a bare room in Palazzo delle Prigioni, Venice, I can’t help but ask, “You use the word ‘complicating’ a lot. Is it for you a good thing, a bad thing, or a neutral thing? Tell me about it!”

For a little bit of context, we are speaking at the Venice Biennale, during its opening days. Taiwan’s National Pavilion – which is actually not a national pavilion at all, but instead an ‘official collateral show,’ since Taiwan is, of course, not considered a nation – is being presented at the Palazzo delle Prigioni.

I wrote about the Taiwanese Pavilion for Plural Art Mag.

Here is the link to the piece

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Diana Al Hadid [Diego Flores]

Musing around the work of an artist who draws her inspiration from multiple, diverse sources is always extremely enjoyable for me – especially if the artist’s references encounter my own, in a high-brow, low-brow dialogue.

In this piece I wrote about the outstanding work of Syrian-American artist Diana Al-Hadid, and read it in the light of both Buddhist philosophy and the Foo Fighters.

Here is the link to the piece

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“When the day was over, we sat on a bench carved in stone, watching the clouds turn pink and the sea purple. We chatted about everything, from Nietzsche’s Übermensch to that cute waiter trying on me. Being part of Positano’s busking community was paradise, so I figured that in Melbourne it wouldn’t be any different.”

A little story from my personal arsenal, just published by Global Comment. I wish to have the chance to write more stories like this one in the future, alongside the arts writing. It’s really fun!

Here is the link to the piece

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In Southeast Asia, several artists are looking deep into local traditions and narratives, giving the mythical and historical figures obscured by colonialism, patriarchy, and consumerism, their rightful place.

Their works challenge Western-centric and patriarchal narratives, opening up new interpretations for the viewers. Each artist is bringing forth a different yet very relevant narrative.

I wrote about four of my favourite artists from the region working on these themes for CoBo Social, but truly I’m thinking to write an entire book on the subject, or at least curate a show! In the meantime, here is a taste of it.

Here is the link to the piece

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Can machines create value? And do objects have meaning if there are no humans around to experience them?

These are the questions that Singapore artist Gerald Leow has been grappling with in the past few months. If you’re based in Singapore, you might have seen his latest work while walking by Marina Bay Sands. Called Perpetual Motion, it’s a series of column-like sculptures with reflective surfaces that appear to be in constant dialogue with the skyscrapers on the bay.

I have to say that Gerald is one of my favourite Singaporean artists, and I have been following his work since 2015. Plural Art Mag has just published my article on his new exhibit:

Here is the link to the piece

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art ramallah

Starting Palestine’s first ever art fair during a global pandemic may seem a daunting proposition, but for Ziad Anani and Yusef Hussein, of the Zawyeh Art Gallery, it was a much needed way to bring Palestinians together in testing times.

I reported and wrote the story for Middle East Eye.

Here is the link to the piece

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Al-Monitor has just published my interview with Libyan photographer and photojournalist Nada Harib. Her work is all about hope in the face of adversity and beauty in the midst of pain.

With her photographs widely exhibited in and outside Libya, from the Institut du Monde Arabe in France to the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, Harib’s work tells stories that have been forgotten or repressed during her country’s many turbulent phases. 

It’s another step for me and Al-Monitor’s readers to learn more about the culture and humanity of Libya, beyond the news reports.

Here is the link to the interview

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