Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

  • Fouad Elkoury, The Picnic, 1979, ink-jet print, 15 3/4 × 25 5/8". From the series “Civil War,” 1977–86.

    Kaelen Wilson-Goldie

    IN SONALLAH IBRAHIM’S NOVEL Beirut, Beirut (1984), an unnamed Egyptian writer leaves his home in Cairo and boards a plane for the Lebanese capital. The year is 1980, and the writer has hidden a manuscript in the lining of his luggage. Detecting a lull or possibly an end to the civil war that broke out in Lebanon five years earlier (it would continue for another decade), he is traveling to see a publisher. His manuscript is politically damning and sexually daring and nobody in the Arab world will touch it—except possibly in Beirut, which is historically known for publishing books that would

  • Fouad Elkoury, Oum Koulthoum Café in Luxor, 1990, ink-jet print, 23 3/4 × 35 1/2".

    Fouad Elkoury

    In 1849, Gustave Flaubert and Maxime Du Camp set off on an adventure to the East. For two young Frenchmen of the mid-nineteenth-century haute bourgeoisie, the East meant Egypt, so they made their way from Paris to Marseille, where they boarded a ship for Alexandria. From there they traveled south to Cairo and on to the city of Esna. They continued to Karnak, Beirut, and Jerusalem before heading home. Du Camp took more than two hundred pictures, many of which were bound into the book Egypte, Nubie, Palestine et Syrie (1852), a landmark in the history of photography. Flaubert, of course, found

  • Mona Hatoum

    Twenty-one years have passed since Mona Hatoum’s first major museum show at the Centre Pompidou. By 1994, she already had nearly two decades of work behind her but was just beginning to gain international prominence. Hatoum has cut a curious path through the intervening decades, from the muscular look of her oversize kitchen utensils to the fragility of her sculptures in glass and textiles. This summer, the Pompidou is reconstructing the full arc of Hatoum’s oeuvre. With seventy-five pieces dating from the 1970s through 2014 and a catalogue anthologizing key writings

  • slant April 07, 2015

    Neverending Story

    A TRAUMATIC EVENT is one that defies our ability to tell what happened and at the same time sets off the desperate compulsion to do so, or at least to try, over and over, however awkward, until a story begins to take hold. A sharp, sudden eruption of violence—a war, an explosion, an attack—both does damage and repairs, by triggering the impulse to explain it, assign it meaning, and make it fit within the wider story we tell ourselves about the worlds in which we live.

    In the months that have passed since three young men, two of them ex-convicts, gunned down the staff of a satirical magazine and

  • Taysir Batniji, Untitled (Imperfect Lovers), 2013, neon, 41 × 19 3/4 × 41 × 2".

    Taysir Batniji and Anna Boghiguian

    Anna Boghiguian is an artist with a wild style and singular vision, yet her dense, visceral drawings and scattershot installations play surprisingly well with others. In 2012, she shared a room with Charlotte Salomon at Documenta 13 in Kassel. The next year, she joined Goshka Macuga for an exhibition at Iniva in London. For her first major show in Beirut, Boghiguian (an Armenian-Egyptian nomad presently based in Cairo) was paired up with Taysir Batniji, a Gaza-born, Paris-based artist who might seem diametrically opposed to her in every way.

    Along the south side of the gallery, Boghiguian’s messy,

  • Mohammed Ali Atassi and Ziad Homsi, Our Terrible Country, 2014, HD video, color, sound, 85 minutes.
    film January 14, 2015

    Price of Freedom

    IN THE SUMMER OF 2013, the Syrian writer Yassin al-Haj Saleh took a dangerous journey from the rebel-held city of Douma to his hometown of Raqqa, now the headquarters of the so-called Islamic State, across the border to southern Turkey and on to Istanbul. One of the foremost intellectuals of his generation and widely considered the sage of the Syrian revolution (hakim al-thawra), Haj Saleh had been in hiding for two years. When he won a Prince Claus Award in 2012, he delivered his acceptance speech—an eloquent response to the twinned questions: why revolt and why write—from an undisclosed location

  • “Ahmet Öğüt: Happy Together: Collaborators Collaborating”

    In recent years, Ahmet Öğüt has auctioned off a self-portrait titled Punch This Painting, 2010; created a school for (and taught by) asylum seekers (the Silent University); legally exchanged the letters of his name with artist Nina Katchadourian; and twinned himself to his colleague Cevdet Erek. For this exhibition, Öğüt will revisit nearly a decade of his comical yet critical collaborations by constructing a television studio as a single, durational work. In it, he will stage a public debate among people he has worked with—all from non-art

  • Daniel Barroca, Alberto Caeiro (detail), 2014, vellum sheets and paper, dimensions variable.
    picks July 09, 2014

    “A Museum of Immortality”

    Rounding out the third edition of Ashkal Alwan’s experimental art school, “A Museum of Immortality” is the last in a series of exhibitions anchoring a curriculum developed by the artists Anton Vidokle and Jalal Toufic. The show is based on a concept by Boris Groys, and actually tries to realize the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov’s wild notion of “The Common Task,” whereby a heady, hallucinatory mix of science, technology, political circumstance, and spiritual fervor reimagines the museum as a space for resurrecting the dead and immortalizing all mankind.

    With the help of more than fifty

  • Rasheed Araeen, Chakras, 1969–70, sixteen C-prints, sixteen wood disks. Installation view.

    Rasheed Araeen

    Rasheed Araeen’s “Before and After Minimalism” pulls viewers through the initial twenty years of his career, with drawings, paintings, and sculptures from 1953 through 1973; it also includes a new work, Sharjah Blues, 2014, which was commissioned especially for the show. Araeen’s first major exhibition in the Middle East is thus neither a dutiful retrospective nor a comprehensive survey. Rather, the show reads like a highly compelling story hinging, by necessity, on spare language and a dramatically pared-down plot.

    Born in Karachi, Pakistan, and based in London, Araeen is now seventy-nine years

  • Left: WHW's Sabina Sabolovic, curator and Meeting Points founder Tarek Abou El-Fetouh, and WHW's Ivet Curlin, Ana Devic, and Natasa Ilic. Right: Beirut Art Center director Marie Muracciole. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary April 27, 2014

    Truth and Consequence

    IN HIS BLISTERING critique of colonialism in Africa, the revolutionary Martinican writer Frantz Fanon made a curious if counterintuitive observation about the Arab world: For all the appeal of Arab nationalism and the renaissance in arts and letters that were accruing political currency in Fanon’s time, the region was, and remains, deeply divided by its experience of occupation, independence, state formation, and trade.

    “The political regimes of certain Arab states are so different,” wrote Fanon, two-thirds of the way through The Wretched of the Earth, “and so far away from each other in their

  • Left: Curators Hans Ulrich Obrist, Adam Szymczyk, Okwui Enwezor, and Catherine David. Right: Art Dubai director Antonia Carver. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary March 27, 2014

    Global Affair

    A FRIEND WHO goes to far more art fairs than I do once told me the atmosphere of Art Dubai was so gauche and ostentatious that it made the flash of Art Basel Miami Beach look as bookish as Documenta. A curator for a mainstream American museum, he meant it in a disparaging way, of course, and for a good long decade, Dubai has inspired exactly that animosity and ill will. It is in many ways a fake and wretched place, and Dubai bashing is not only easy but also self-evident. The rest of my friends—including those who live there, grew up there, and have gone there for work, autonomy, or escape—tend

  • Left: Bidoun senior editor Negar Azimi with writer Rayya Badran. Right: Art historian and October editor David Joselit. (All photos: Kaelen Wilson-Goldie)
    diary March 17, 2014

    Everyone’s a Critic

    ALTHOUGH IT SLIPPED into the same week as the Whitney Biennial, the Armory Show, a fistful of ancillary fairs, and the start of the spring season for virtually all of New York’s galleries and museums, the opening of “Critical Machines,” an exhibition and conference on the future of art magazines (in print and online), faced its toughest competition from none of those mainstream art-world monoliths. What pulled people away from an otherwise erudite encounter with the editors of October, Cabinet, Bidoun, e-flux, Ibraaz, and Red Thread, among others, was a single political protest, which brought