Friday, July 26, 2019

In My Dream I was in Kuwait - East Meets West Through Art in Venice

Where I sleep by Zahra Marwan - Photo: Cat Bauer

East Meets West Through Art

(Venice, Italy) Venice has always been a crossroads of people and cultures. Through its powerful maritime culture, for centuries it was the center of trade where East met West. With a strategic position at the head of the Adriatic Sea, her merchant vessels would sail to exotic lands in the Byzantine empire and Muslim world and return home brimming with spices, gems, fabrics, art and ideas from the Orient. These products flowed throughout all of Europe, allowing her citizens to proper. In her heyday, Venice was the wealthiest city in all of Europe.

Kuwait, too, is strategically located at the head of the Persian Gulf, and whose people are linked to the sea. Kuwait struck it rich when oil reserves were discovered in 1938. These days, it is a country in search of a dynamic balance between tradition and innovation, and is making efforts to convert a largely oil-based economy to one that includes innovative activities which focus on information and technology. It is an immensely wealthy country, with the fourth highest per capita income in the world. While remaining an emirate, it is the first Gulf country to have a parliamentary government. Since 2005, women have had the right to vote, and outnumber men in the work force.

Inauguration at Scoletta dei Battioro in Venice - Photo: Cat Bauer

The Heart of Culture

In My Dream I was in Kuwait is the evocative title chosen for the exhibition that spotlights the Heart of Culture program in Venice, and launches the Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Culture Centre in Kuwait onto the international stage. As one of the world's largest museum complexes, the Centre consists of a Space Museum, a Fine Arts Centre, a Natural History Museum, a Science and Technology Museum, an Arabic Islamic Science Museum and a theatre. Established on March 14, 2018, the museum is owned by Kuwait's royal palace, the Amiri Diwan, and is named after the first Emir and founder of modern Kuwait.

Elibelinde by Amani Althuwaini - Photo: Cat Bauer

The Exhibition in Venice - A Cultural Exchange

The exhibition at the Scoletta dei Battioro at San Stae in Venice is presented in two stages with six different artists, all of whom participated in the Artist in Residence program at the Centre, which promotes the work of young and emerging Kuwaiti artists and facilitates cultural exchanges through international collaborations.

From June to August, the works of Zaha Marwan, Amani Al-Thuwaini and Mahmoud Shaker are on show; from September to November it's Khaled Al-Najdi, Ahmed Muqeem and Naseer Behbehani. Through the Heart of Culture program they collaborate with Venetian artists and artisans like Tessitura Bevilacqua that uses traditional 18-century looms to weave its fabrics; glass artist Leonardo Cimolin; New Zealand Painter Veronica Green; the Simone Cenedese Murano glass factory, and the Doppio Fondo Printmaking studio.

On losing a loved one by Zahra Marwan
"Every day, I go to the sea and say hello to my dad."

In My Dream I was in Kuwait

The spirit of the whimsical watercolour and ink illustrations of Zahra Marwan was the inspiration for the title of the exhibition. Zahra, who was born in Kuwait but lives and works in New Mexico, is one of the two female artists who work is currently on display. Her unique experience of facing social injustice and of leaving Kuwait is reflected in her work; her images of her father are especially poignant.

Amani Althuwaini is half Kuwaiti and half Ukranian, and uses mixed media and two-dimensional forms -- video, installation and painting -- to explore themes of luxury, discrimination and other socio-political topics through her work. Elibelinde, created with wool and embroidered fabric, is an image of the goddess commonly used in Kilim rugs, and combines a fairy tale quality with traditional marriage rituals.

Mahmoud Shaker lives and works in Kuwait, and is a writer and visual artist. Before the oil economy, Kuwaiti men dove for pearls as their women confronted the sea, singing and waiting for their safe return. His poems written on photographs express their feelings of loneliness, love and longing.

The Wait by Mahmoud Shaker
In My Dream I was in Kuwait was curated by Francesca Giubilei and Luca Berta, founders of the Venice Art Factory, and runs from June 14 to November 1. Go to the Venice Art Factory for more information.

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Venice has always been a crossroads of people and
    cultures. For centuries, it was the center of trade where East met West, and a powerful maritime empire