Mounira Al Solh, untitled, 2015, mixed media on paper, 11 3/4 × 8 1/2". From the series “I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous,” 2012–.


“Mounira Al Solh: I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous”

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
February 8–April 29

Curated by Hendrik Folkerts with Jordan Carter

Mounira Al Solh has established herself as one of the most exciting young Lebanese artists in a generation set to follow in the outsize footsteps of predecessors such as Rabih Mroué, Walid Raad, and Akram Zaatari. She did so through outrageous expressions of disaffection in videos such as Rawane’s Song and As If I Don’t Fit There, both 2006, which are about having nothing to say regarding Lebanon’s civil war and artists who quit, respectively. It was all an utterly charming ruse, of course, masking the artist’s deep and serious engagement with the politics of war and the aesthetics of craft. Al Solh’s ongoing series of refugee portraits (“I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous,” 2012–), some three hundred of which form the centerpiece of this exhibition, is one of the most sensitive responses to Syria’s civil war to date. Her embroidered flags and tents, also on view, weave mischievous humor into a subtle celebration of heritage in a region where creativity is often devastated but never destroyed.