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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » June 29, 2015
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Artists Explore Arab Spring
June 29, 2015   
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If Two Seas Were Supposed to Meet, a new exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, looks at recent social protests through the eyes of Middle Eastern, Asian and European artists.

The exhibition is curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh from Cairo, who says he was inspired by the Arab Spring that began in the Middle East after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunis in 2010. “In recent years, we have seen plenty of protests being staged around the world in the name of justice, social reforms and political transformation,” says Abou El Fetouh. “In several cases, the protests have led to social unrest and wars.”

Abou El Fetouh decided to investigate artists’ response to such events by inviting internationally acclaimed artists from the Middle East to take part in the If Two Seas... exhibition. These include Doa Aly, Basim Magdy, Ali Cherii, Juman Mann, Ruane Abou-Rahme and Basim Abbas. There are also several artists from China, South Korea, Singapore and Ukraine taking part.

While the items on show do not depict any actual wars, they tackle different aspects of conflicts, from emancipation, oppression and liberation to the aftermath of military operations such as destruction, mutilation and death. The exhibition prompts audiences to reflect on people becoming “political bodies” engaged in collective demonstrations. It aims to draw viewers’ attention to the moment when individuals become a community and their lives and desires turn into social movements in which individual needs lead to political action. The pieces exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art give visitors an insight into interactions between individuals and collectives, politics and private lives and the old and the new.

Abou El Fetouh believes the Sufi word barzakh best grasps the essence of contemporary conflicts and the impact they have on people and communities, indicating how difficult conflicts are to solve. The word can be literally translated as “inlet” in the sense of a narrow passage that separates two seas. Barzakh, Abou El Fetouh adds, is used to refer to things that unite and divide at the same time, marking the line between life and death. This metaphor expresses the dichotomy in the relations between the West and the East and allows a better understanding of the exhibition’s title.

Until Aug. 23
Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; 51 Emilii Plater St.
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