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The International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC) announces Systems and Patterns exhibition

The International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC) presents Systems and Patterns, an exhibition open 28 September–18 November 2012.

Mounir Fatmi, Mixology, 2010. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Conrads, Düsseldorf.

The exhibition Systems and Patterns attempts to show, through a small sampling of works—the crucial dilemmas involved in the representation of the Middle East, both on the part of the creators of images and on the part of their users. The representation ranges from secularized cosmopolitan images of the Middle East to a renewed consideration of, and even an insistence on nurturing, local cultural traditions and religion. Preconceived and stereotypical ideas about Middle Eastern contemporary art do exist, although in a much more sophisticated way, even in the system of contemporary art. The exhibition intentionally avoided the topical art of the Arab Spring and focused on questions relating to artistic universality.

At the same time, the exhibition Systems and Patterns is a presentation of contemporary Middle Eastern art in its connection with the history of the Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana. As a museum that specializes in the art of printing and printmaking, the International Centre of Graphic Arts is also the producer of the biennial. Founded in 1955, at a time when the former Yugoslavia occupied a unique geopolitical position, the Ljubljana biennial quickly established itself as an event that, very early on, transcended the Eurocentric perspective by showing art production from the so-called Third World, and especially from the non-aligned countries—including artists from the Middle East. From its beginning and almost to the end of the 1990s, the biennial was committed to the universalist modernist paradigm. Even a cursory inspection of the artworks sent by Middle East artists to the Ljubljana biennial reveals the predominance of modernist forms and artistic subjectivism over Orientalist notions. With the changes in the social and political situation, the modernist paradigm has been replaced by globalism and transnationalism, while painting, sculpture, and printmaking have been overshadowed by contemporary discursive art practices but the question of artistic universalism remains pertinent even today. The show presents artists whose works are marked by an intriguing tension between contemporary universalism and their own heritage, which is defined by the political, social, and cultural specifics of the Middle East. The “systems” here are both systems of representation and individual artistic systems. The “patterns” are ornaments, repetitive motifs, and basic visual elements, which form the building blocks of seriality, repetition, symmetry, and geometricism. Behind the repetition of decorative forms, we find messages that underscore the complexity of the current social and economic existence. Realizing that, previously, artists from the Middle East have been presented in Slovenia either in the context of the Biennial of Graphic Arts or, in the past decade, as individual artists shown primarily in the transnational context of contemporary curatorial exhibitions, this selection tries to encompass a number of very different artistic languages in a broad spectrum ranging from contemporary documentarism to traditionalism, or in the relationships between these two extremes.

The exhibition is accompanied by a lively interdisciplinary programme and a bilingual (Slovene and English) catalogue with the essays by Nevenka Šivavec and Nat Muller.

There will also be a special screening of videos on October 25:
House Arrests: Tales of the Hidden Inside, curated by Nat Muller, featuring works by Akram Zaatari, Vartan Avakian, Taysir Batniji, and Larissa Sansour.

Exhibiting artists: Nazgol Ansarinia, Taysir Batniji, Hala Elkoussy, Mounir Fatmi, Abdulnasser Gharem, Mona Hatoum, Susan Hefuna, Rachid Koraïchi, Moataz Nasr, Walid Siti, Hassan Sharif, Slavs and Tatars

Curator: Nevenka Šivavec

The International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC)
Tivoli Mansion, Pod turnom 3, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Hours: Tue–Sun, 10–6pm

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