How to Maneuver: Shape-shifting texts and other publishing tactics

How to Maneuver: Shape-shifting texts and other publishing tactics


Hala Bizri and Jana Traboulsi, History of the Book in Lebanon (work in progress), 2019.

December 11, 2019
How to Maneuver: Shape-shifting texts and other publishing tactics
December 10, 2019–February 16, 2020
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Warehouse421, Abu Dhabi’s homegrown arts and design center, is proud to present its latest exhibition, How to Maneuver: Shape-shifting texts and other publishing tactics. Examining the interface between the production of art and design, and the act of publishing that work to wider audiences, the exhibition features more than 40 works developed by artists, writers and publishers from across the region and the world, seeking to explore the concept of publishing as an act of making public that is not restricted to specific perceptions.

Co-curated by the founders of publishing initiative, Kayfa ta, artist and curator Maha Maamoun and research-artist and curator, Ala Younis, How to Maneuver portrays and examines the boundaries that exist between mainstream and alternative cultural production. The exhibition looks to understand how publishing regimes define and control the realm of the publishable, alongside exploring how emerging artists can maneuver through such regimes.

How to Maneuver surveys works by local, regional and international emerging and established artists, presenting a variety of historical and contemporary reflections on the languages and formats marginalized in the dominant publishing industry—the snubbed genres, the outlawed subjects, the troubling subjectivities, the excessive, the minimal, the unprofitable, and the unfathomable.

How to Maneuver premiers new and a number of Warehouse421 commissions by participating artists, including an installation by Bernhard Cella from his NO-ISBN project, the production of Ali Yass’ The Rainy Days Series, and Barakunan’s Narrative Liberation Front Bunker 002 – Campaign Headquarters. On display for the first time are Hussein Nassereddine’s The Complete Uncredited Works: The Palm Tree Forest, Print Labor by Ahmad Makia, and Borrowed Faces: The Research Space, by Fehras Publishing Practices.

Manager of Warehouse421, Faisal Al Hassan, commented: “How to Maneuver is not just an abstract reflection on the process of publication. This exhibition explores the boundaries separating publishing from independent publishing, or mainstream from alternative cultural production.  It opens up relevant conversations around notions of authorship, independence, censorship, values, constraints, and dominant discourse.”

“‘Publishing’ gives a voice to the people, but who gets to decide what is deemed ‘publishable’? Do we trust the “public” to be discerning enough to know? Do we trust institutions to know better than the public? Through this exhibition, we invite the viewer to engage with the question of how some works come to be viewed as seminal, while others are renegaded and forgotten, and how those working in the creative field need to  navigate these cluttered spaces between one and the other.”

Kayfa ta is a publishing initiative which draws its inspiration from how-to manuals (kayfa ta meaning “how to” in Arabic) to respond to requisite need in the regional and global artistic community, be that skill development or enriching thought. Founded on a praxis that balances philosophical reflection with everyday action, the initiative is based between Amman, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt. This will be their first exhibition in the UAE.

The composition of the exhibition space has been designed by the Lebanese architecture and design studio, Ghaith & Jad, who use a distinctive process-driven approach to provide responsiveness to the context which surrounds the show. Their design of the exhibition space is crafted to offer audiences a sense of a frozen moment in time, allowing exhibitors a chance to penetrate the exhibition, and guide them through the multitude of artworks within the space.

The exhibition is emblematic of Warehouse421’s commitment to supporting the development of the arts ecosystem in the UAE, by providing a platform for grassroots arts and design that is committed to its social context and supports the suffusion of creative practices. Through a thought-provoking program, it aspires to bring art closer to the community, driving rich conversations and cultivating its positive impact on the public.

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December 11, 2019

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