Naima Morelli

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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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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It has been such a long time since I last indulged in some personal reflections on this blog, and let you readers know what’s up with my life and my different practices. I felt it was high time, so I have started writing this personal essay on the train ride from Naples to Venice, and I have finished it in my hometown Sorrento, in preparation for being back in my turf, Rome. 

The train journey from Naples to Venice was six hours, which I usually spend reading, listening to music, podcasts, and calling friends sometimes. But six hours of uninterrupted trip, crossing Italy from South to North, are a gift of sorts. You are launched at full speed in a beautiful landscape, there is movement and stillness, a precious time to gather your thoughts, in preparation for a fresh start. A time for aimless pleasure, for allowing reflections to form. What will come will be the time for activity, and both the leisure – the otium of the Romans – and the action-filled, execution part, need to be appreciated fully. If you train your sensitivity, you’ll know when and how to flow from one state to another. This is ultimately the sense I’ve been sharpening these past few months.

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In this video Indonesian artist Eddy Susanto talks about his work for his solo show in Venice. Called “Allegory of Hell, from Borobudur to Dante from July 28th to September 4th at GAD, Giudecca Art District. The exhibition was sponsored by Artsociates, and I co-curated it with Valentina Levy.

More info here (in Italian)

More info (in English)

Giudecca Art District website

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One of my favourite Southeast Asian artist, Eddy Susanto, is currently having his first solo show in Europe, and it’s in Italy, Venice, in parallel with the 59th edition of the Venice Biennale. Called “Allegory of Hell, from Borobudur to Dante ”, the show is taking place in Venice from July 28th to September 4th.

This is particularly relevant, considering that this year Indonesia doesn’t have its own national pavilion, so we thought of Eddy as a representative for the country. The show was sponsored by Artsociates, and I’m glad to say that I co-curated it with Valentina Levy at GAD, Giudecca Art District.

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