No-Mad-Ness in No-Man’s-Land

October 7, 2013 - filed under Announcements,Exhibitions,Openings,Upcoming Events   

November 9th thru December 22nd, 2013

ESLITE Gallery, Taipei

Co-curated by Leeza Ahmady and Ombretta Agro Andruff


Khadim Ali / Isabel & Alfredo Aquilizan / Said Atabekov / Lara Baladi / Jeanno Gaussi / Mariam Ghani / Reena Saini Kallat / Jagannath Panda / Yelena & Viktor Vorobayev / Sharif Waked

This exhibition examines the nomadism of contemporary migrant artists who deliberately resist location and de-territorialize the origins of their work. It consists of a selection of some of today’s most successful artists based in or originating from various regions in Asia, including the Middle East. These artists are engaged in the acts of moving, living, and working on multiple continents or are addressing such phenomena in their practices consciously, or in some cases unconsciously. They investigate, challenge, and/ or renew traditional nomadic ideals in view of contemporary lifestyles relative to ideas about space, place, people, movement, and nature.  Through their nomadism, these artists elude the fixed identity categories often imposed on them by their country or countries of adoption.

The word “nomad” comes from the Greek and is defined as “the one who wanders for pasture.” Since the dawn of the modern era, however, or perhaps even since the birth of cities, the term has been used to mean one who moves for various reasons. The paradoxes of a life on the move are playfully highlighted in the exhibition’s double-edged title—to both acknowledge the real challenges of such a lifestyle and also to examine the often fantastic, uncanny images conjured by the term nomad. Namely, one who engages in wild, uninhibited meanderings in unregulated territories at the mercy of highly unexpected and dangerous conditions and circumstances.

From the 1960s onward, significant numbers of artists from all regions of the world—Asia, Africa, South America, and elsewhere—travelled to Europe and North America, and vice-versa. Whether they immigrated for a short period or indefinitely, their art not only contributed to the dynamics of their newly adopted art scenes but transformed art-making processes, theory, and criticism, and ultimately art history altogether. Art historians are therefore now beginning to recognize the starting point of contemporary art by delineating  artists and movements from 1970 forward as “an art that is of the world for the world.”

This exhibition was inspired by the curators’ acknowledgment of this shift as directly connected to the phenomena of artists increasingly moving from place to place and living and working in countries and regions other than their own, especially over the past three decades. Furthermore, the practice of the few brave artists who ventured to isolated places in the world on their own has now become completely institutionalized. Residency programs have sprouted up in museums, universities, and arts organizations in cities, towns, and even villages, large and small, cosmopolitan or remote. A generation of thirty- and forty-something successful artists today will list at least a dozen local and international residencies in their resumes.

No-Mad-Ness in No-Man’s-Land is the fruit of four years of collaborative research and conversations between curators Leeza Ahmady and Ombretta Agró Andruff, which led to the selection of the ten artists currently in the exhibition. Some of the artists are culturally and historically connected to the notion of nomadism because of their geographical affiliations (Said Atabekov, Yelena Vorobyeva, and Viktor Vorobyev); others because they make the concept of nomadism, displacement, and migration one of the central subjects of their art practice (Mariam Ghani, Sharif Waked, Jeanno Gaussi, Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, and to some extent Reena Kallat and Jagannath Panda); and than there are those who may have touched upon this subject more peripherally but with works that make a strong statement in this specific context (Lara Baladi and Khadim Ali).

While the list of artists initially under consideration included individuals and collectives from Italy, Germany, Denmark, Poland, and Mexico, among other countries, the final selection for this specific iteration of the project focused on participants from Asia and the Middle East, including India, Kazakhstan, Egypt, the Philippines, Afghanistan, and Palestine.

The media employed by the artists reflect the wide variety of their practices: from the videos of Mariam Ghani and Sharif Waked to the photography-based works of Said Atabekov, Yelena and Viktor Vorobyev, and Lara Baladi ; the sculptural works and installations by Jagannath Panda, Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, Reena Kallat, and the Vorobyevs; and the paintings and works on paper by Jeanno Gaussi, Reena Kallat, Jagannath Panda and Khadim Ali.

No-Mad-Ness in No-Man’s-Land is an open-ended and ongoing project, which the curators envision gaining a nomadic existence in its own right, traveling through different venues in different countries with the possibility of changing the participating artists as it moves from place to place in order to broaden the dialogue concerning various forms of contemporary nomadism.

To read more about the exhibition and the participating artists visit:

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