“LOVE Affairs” determine our lives, feelings, thoughts and actions very directly, almost always and everywhere: “LOVE Affairs” that end happily or painfully, that last only for a moment or for half a lifetime, that are so often only a dream that ends in reality and fades into memory.
The exhibition “LOVE Affairs”, conceived by the London-based Iranian-Lebanese curator Rose Issa, presents video works, installations and drawings by Jananne Al-Ani (1966 in Kirkuk, lives in London), Chant Avedissian (1951 in Cairo), Selma Gürbüz (1960 in Istanbul) and Nadine Touma (1972 in Beirut), who deal with questions of intimacy and publicity, with strategies of self-representation and their own individual self-images in relation to society.
They question the role and image of women between adoration and come-ons in a poetic, sometimes sensual, sometimes ironic way. In novels and dramas, in films and operas, in art and of course in real life, love and the not entirely uncomplicated relationship between man and woman is described, remembered, negotiated and processed. An old story that is always the same and yet new every time because of its individuality, a concept with which the female artists represented in this exhibition also deal in very different ways.
They allow insights into dreams, longings and fantasies, as Selma Gürbüz does in her drawings. Like Jananne Al-Ani in her video installation “She Said”, they process experiences from memory. They relate inner worlds and outer worlds to each other, recall their own stories and other people’s: Chant Avedissian quotes the great Egyptian singer Oum Kalsoum in his drawings and paintings. His paintings are a tribute to Egyptian women. They tell their story from the 1950s to the 1980s.
Nadine Touma documents men’s reactions to her appearance in as a diva in her sound installation “Haremharassment, Cairo Street “. By presenting very personal work by female artists coming from countries around the Eastern Mediterranean, we want to offer alternatives to images that have grown stagnant and break down prejudices. The image of “Islamic worlds” is mainly composed of two fundamentally contradictory stereotypes: on the one hand, it is shaped by 19th century Orientalism, by lascivious odalisques and cruel rulers in an architecture reminiscent of the Arabian Nights. On the other hand, it is determined by the political reporting in the media, which shows wars, the poverty of broad sections of the population and, time and again, the oppression of women. In an exhibition dedicated to the existential and utterly universal theme “LOVE Affairs,” it becomes obvious that the “really important things in life” are always the same – in Beirut as in London, in Cairo as in Istanbul.