Author: Vanessa Gravenor

Michael Rakowitz’s | Backstroke of the West

Michael Rakowitz is an Iraqi American artist based in Chicago. Rakowitz’s practice focuses on this activity of estrangement through the detournment of icons, which are deeply embedded in his Jewish-Iraqi heritage. His first museum survey, Backstroke of the West, at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago presents large-scale projects such as May the Arrogant Not […]

Iman Issa’s Heritage Studies

Iman Issa’s Heritage Studies (2015–ongoing) combines a Brancusi like modernism with details from architectural remains, which provides a meditation on heritage broadly. On view at the Hamburger Bahnhof and shortlisted for the Preis der Nationalgalerie, 2017, Issa’s objects act as hybrid figures that in turn question what types of forms we inherit today from the […]

Why Are We Here Now | Rabih Mroué

BERLIN—“The furniture we buy at Ikea”, the speaker declares perched on a curved illuminated white stage, “is not made to be inherited, so at least this relieves you of sorrow”. The speaker, Hoda Barakat, Lebanese novelist and journalist, whose talk Short Cuts can be described as both biographical and humorous, as lyrical commentary on her […]

Why Are We Here Now | Aleppo. A portrait of Absence

BERLIN—The auditorium is pitch black before the light comes in as if demarcating an abstract horizon line. Then a voice punctuates the silence; it sounds vaguely British, male, perhaps white—mature. He is speaking about Aleppo, memory, and forgetting, and yet this is not a Milan Kundera novel, the Czech novelist who wrote stories by the […]

After the Wildly Improbable

Symposium After the Wildly Improbable excavates a Rail Line Meant to Connect Berlin and Baghdad Berlin—After the Wildly Improbable was a symposium curated by writer Adania Shibli under the framework of the larger series of programing Why are we here now? The program, taking place at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt from mid-September to October was […]

Mounira Al Solh

Cloistered in the Glass Pavilions on Kurt-Schumacher-Strasse at Documenta 14 in Kassel, one finds Mounira Al Sohl’s installation Nassib’s Bakery (2017) and I Strongly Believe in Our Right to Be Frivolous woven across two floors. The installation is decidedly austere if not barren with its content confined mostly to text, murals, and small drawings on […]

Reframing Super Dreams | Comic Icons in Egypt and Lebanon

Berlin — Arab Comics | 90 Years of Popular Visual Culture, put together by curators Mona Damluji and Nadim Damluji, represents a cross section of research in publishing houses in Egypt and Lebanon that shows the translation and proliferation of Western comics into the Arab world. Such publishing houses include Dar Al-Hilal (Egypt), which translated […]

Equivalent Violence: Hiwa K’s Don’t Shrink Me to the Size of a Bullet

Material detritus of war transforms into a receptacle of sound; sound intervenes revealing the interconnectivity of conflict—these are some of the motifs embedded within Hiwa K’s practice, which often uses poetic juxtapositions to make visible the refrain of violence. Part of the generation of refugees from Kurdish Iraq to escape in the 90’s, his work […]


The Exhibition Copy/Paste, curated by Shahram Entekhabi, and taking place at Tarahan Azad Art Gallery, Tehran and CC. art space, Isfahan from April 22nd to July 14th explores the idea of duplication and reproduction within Western and Islamic art. Shahram Entekhabi, Iranian/German curator, asks how the ideas present within Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art […]

Two Takes on India’s Independence

Sachin Bonde and Poonam Jain both explored India’s Colonial past and post-Independence realities at Dubai’s 1×1 gallery’s India Art Fair booth A vision etched in gypsum lies vertical, divided like loose leaves of paper torn out of old notebooks. A map made of tin stands straight, with cartographic lines etched across its form, tracking its […]