Larissa Sansour, Still from the video “A Space Exodus,” 2009. Courtesy of the artist.

April 7, 2012

Sat 14 April – Tue 5 June 2012

Symposium: Fri 13 April
Friday 13 April, 11–16:30

Film season: From Sat 14 April

70 Oxford Street
M1 5NH
Tues–Sat 12–20, Sun 12–18
Free Entry

0161 200 1545

Subversion brings together eleven emerging and internationally recognised artists in a unique group show of new and recent contemporary art that explores and rethinks notions of ‘modern Arab identity.’

Rather than conforming, the artists function as performers, tricksters and interventionists, often using dark humour to explore and parody the social masks they are expected to wear by everyone from politicians to the media, and the art world.

Combining autobiography with fiction, the artists can be found cross-referencing popular culture and art history with subversive parody of current socio-political expectations. Their work expresses the contradictions faced by individuals who must perform multiple roles in a society that is constantly shifting in the manner in which it is mediated, articulated, and presented. Together, they illustrate fragments of the distorted imagination that often preoccupies the region that we have come to know as the ‘Arab world’.

Emerging Gaza artists and filmmakers Tarzan and Arab will present their award-winning Gazawood project (2010), including a series of striking cinema poster pastiches of imaginary movies from different genres, and a short film Colourful Journey, which will be screened in a pop-up cinema in Gallery 3. Based in a region that has not had a functioning cinema since the 1980s and heavily relies on satellite TV and illegal DVD copies, the works strongly reflect the twins’ irrevocable passion for film.

In A Space Exodus (2009), Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour adapts a segment of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, providing it with a new regional context by positing the idea of the first Palestinian in space. Originally developed as part of the A Space Exodus installation, Subversion will also feature the UK premiere of Sansour’s Palestinauts (2010) and three preliminary sketches for the Nation Estate project, a sci-fi photo series conceived in the wake of the Palestinian bid for nationhood at the UN.

Other highlights include Sharif Waked’s To Be Continued (2009), which suspends our disbelief, merging suicide bomber with Scheherazade to poke fun at the forms of address that the mainstream media has conditioned audiences into. Marwa Arsanios uses noirish humour to rewrite the hidden romantic and erotic history between men in Lebanon, and Akram Zaatari presents two poetic tales that aim to resolve issues of sexual identity, separation and longing.

Visitors are also invited to take part in Wafaa Bilal’s interactive video game Virtual Jihadi (2009), in which the artist has hacked the Al Qaeda version of the widely marketed ‘Quest for Saddam/The Night of Bush Capturing’.

Curated by Omar Kholeif

Marwa Arsanios
Sherif El-Azma
Wafaa Bilal
Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
Khaled Hafez
Larissa Sansour
Tarzan and Arab
Sharif Waked
Akram Zaatari

Funded by Manchester City Council, Arts Council England and AGMA.
Media Partner: Contemporary Practices. Resource areas curated by 98 Weeks.

On 13 April 2012, Cornerhouse presents a symposium entitled The New Arab: Art and Culture from the ‘Imagined’ Arab World, which provides a rare opportunity to hear from global experts on arts and culture in and of the Arab world. Using Subversion as a starting point, guests and speakers are invited to consider parallels between the ironies associated with the politics of history and representation. Chaired by Omar Kholeif.

Contemporary Arab and Lebanese Cinema
A unique film programme of contemporary Arab and Lebanese cinema programmed to accompany Subversion. Including films from a generation of filmmakers whose memories of The Lebanese Civil War remain omnipresent, including Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Rania Stephan, Georges Hachem, Nadine Labaki, and a UK Premiere from Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, the season highlights some of the most critically acclaimed films recently produced in the Arab region.

Season supported by The University of Manchester and British Academy International Partnerships with the curatorial collaboration of the Arab Film Festival, Liverpool.

Subversion, Cornerhouse
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April 7, 2012

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