The New Museum presents Here and Elsewhere, a major exhibition of contemporary art from and about the Arab world.
The exhibition brings together more than forty-five artists from over fifteen countries, many of whom live and work internationally. In keeping with the New Museum’s dedication to showcasing the most engaging new art from around the globe, Here and Elsewhere is the most recent in a series of exhibitions that have introduced urgent questions and new aesthetics to US audiences.
“This exhibition continues the New Museum’s commitment to looking at art from beyond the confines familiar to the New York art world,” said Massimiliano Gioni, Associate Director and Director of Exhibitions. "Here and Elsewhere brings new works and new voices to our audiences, presenting many artists who are showing in New York for the first time.” Combining pivotal and under-recognized figures with younger and midcareer artists, Here and Elsewhere works against the notion of the Arab world as a homogenous or cohesive entity. Through the original and individualized practices of a multigenerational constellation of artists, the exhibition highlights works that often have conceptual or aesthetic references to the Arab world, yet also extend well beyond.
The exhibition borrows its title from a 1976 film-essay by French directors Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, and Anne-Marie Miéville. Their film, Ici et ailleurs [Here and Elsewhere], was initially conceived as a pro-Palestinian documentary, but evolved into a complex reflection on the ethics of representation and the status of images as instruments of political consciousness.
Taking inspiration from Godard, Gorin, and Miéville’s film—which has had a strong impact on an entire generation of artists in various Arab countries—Here and Elsewhere pays particular attention to the position and role of the artist in the face of historical events.
Following the critical discussions that have animated contemporary art in recent years, the exhibition does not propose a fixed definition of Arab art or a distinctive regional style. Just as the show’s title calls attention to multiple places and perspectives, Here and Elsewhere highlights specific cities and art scenes while emphasizing the importance of dialogues that extend internationally. Further, the exhibition illuminates similar insights and affinities as well as dramatic differences, revealing multiple social and aesthetic landscapes rather than a fictional sense of unity. Emerging from the works of a particularly strong and diverse group of artists are less the contours of an imagined geography—to paraphrase the words of Edward Said—than new critical attitudes toward art and images that encourage us to look “elsewhere” in order to understand our “here.”
Here and Elsewhere is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue coedited with Negar Azimi and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie of Bidoun magazine, and featuring roundtable discussions with artists as well as critical essays by scholars and critics.
Here and Elsewhere is organized by the New Museum’s curatorial department, led by Massimiliano Gioni, Associate Director and Director of Exhibitions, with Natalie Bell, Curatorial Associate, Gary Carrion-Murayari, Kraus Family Curator, Helga Christoffersen, Assistant Curator, and Margot Norton, Assistant Curator.