When Solidarity Is Not a Metaphor

When Solidarity Is Not a Metaphor


Saad Eltinay, from the series “Alive and Eternally Rising”, 2021–22. Photo. Courtesy of the artist.

March 21, 2024
When Solidarity Is Not a Metaphor
April 16–21, 2024
My Art Guides Venice Meeting Point
Navy Officer’s Club

Participating artists: Majd Abdel Hamid, Yana Bachynska, Rehaf Al Batniji, Paula Valero Comín, Saad Eltinay, D Harding, Adelita Husni-Bey, Nge Lay, Olivier Marboeuf, Koushna Navabi, Shada Safadi, Dima Srouji and Jasbir Puar.

Contributions by: DAAR—Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, Initiative for Practices and Visions of Radical Care (Bani Khoshnoudi, Magdi Masaraa, Elena Sorokina), Maya Al Khaldi and Sarouna, Zora Snake, Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman.

Curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez

Created by Alserkal Initiatives in partnership with Cité internationale des arts in collaboration with Lightbox.


When Solidarity Is Not a Metaphor, taking place during the pre-opening of the 60th Venice Biennale, imagines solidarity as lived practice. The exhibition offers a counter-space to the reigning agendas of war, patriarchy, and colonialism, and their toxic impacts on human and non-human ecosystems. The exhibiting artists—alumni, residents, and collaborators of both the Cité internationale des arts in Paris and Alserkal Initiatives in Dubai—challenge the understanding of ‘solidarity’ as merely an object of theorising and discourse.

Curated by Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Arts and Culture Programme Manager at the Cité internationale des arts, the exhibition spans installations, photographs, performances, listening sessions, and heart-to-heart conversations. Intentionally foregrounding artistic practices, When Solidarity is Not a Metaphor focuses on simple gestures, often evoking quotidian existences on the periphery of violence and conflict. Inspired by the title of the book Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor (2012), in which authors Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang analyse the material and factual violences of colonialism, the exhibition positions solidarity as praxis.

Throughout the six-day exhibition and corresponding programme, solidarity is articulated as compassionate porosity, as a feminist, care-driven fluidity of moving across mindsets. Its most humble unit of expression is held in the word ‘with’—working, thinking, speaking, and simply being in a state of with-ness.

Many of the featured artists in When Solidarity Is Not a Metaphor share the same destiny of forced displacement and are doubly committed, both to igniting questions that address these displacements and to sustaining ethical practices of production.

Alserkal Initiatives contributes to re-framing narratives about complex geographies, artistic practices, and creative production, providing opportunities and platforms for practitioners to experiment, deepen their research, and engage with diverse audiences. 

The Cité internationale des arts is the largest artists’ residence in the world. Located in the heart of Paris, it brings together creators and enables them to carry out a creative or research project in all disciplines. For periods between two months and a year, the Cité internationale des arts gives artists the chance to work in an environment that is conducive to creativity and open to encounters with professionals from the cultural world. In the Marais or in Montmartre, the residency also provides an opportunity to meet and talk to over 300 artists and practitioners in the art world of all generations, nationalities and disciplines.

Established in 2015, the My Art Guides Venice Meeting Point is a platform created by Lightbox to foster an international dialogue around contemporary art, thus creating collaborative opportunities between visual artists, art organisations and the international art community, as well as cultivating a deeper public engagement with the arts.


Press contacts:
Nigel Rubenstein, St. James Arts, nigel [​at​] stjames-arts.com / Michela Simone, michela [​at​] alserkal.online / Shantal Menéndez Argüello, shantal.menendezarguello [​at​] citedesartsparis.fr / Teresa Sartore, teresa [​at​] lightboxgroup.net

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March 21, 2024

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