We have art in order not to die of the truth. — Nietzsche
The Middle East is a region with its share of disturbances. In addition to political problems, she still has some progress to make in ideological terms, particularly on the cause of women.
In this context, art takes on a whole new meaning… Not only entertaining, it tells a past, a dream, denounces and militates. In spite of patriarchal dominance, some ladies are making their mark, becoming emblematic faces of the contemporary scene.
Whether they paint, sculpt, build or rap, their work speaks for causes such as peace, emancipation, gender, or integration. Who are they…?
Between two worlds: Nada Elkalaawy
“I noticed that my country of origin, and the Middle East in general, were not really important to the world. Except in times of crisis…”, the artist tells us.
Family, identity, coming-of-age… Her work, playing with colours in an almost childish style, breaks down clichés about the Arab world as much as it tells the daily life of a young woman like any other.
Mandana Moghaddam, sublimating violence
After a period in the asylum — a nasty depression followed her father’s murder by Islamists — Mandana Moghaddam made violence, communication, madness and mental health the founding elements of her creations. Ideas often taboo in Eastern culture.
Relying on surprising alliances of materials — concrete and hair, to name just one — she offers a raw, even brutal vision, which never fails to question her audience.
Mona Hatoum, the political voice
Of Palestinian origin, given her history, diaspora and travel are recurring notions for Mona Hatoum. A leading figure in contemporary art, her career, spanning more than thirty years, covers subjects ranging from genre to war.
Multi-supports, she passes from the use of her own body to sculptures and XXL installations, in pieces always tinged with politics.
Being a woman in an Arab country: Lalla A. Essaydi
After having lived in Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United States, Lalla Essaydi notes how the place given to women differs from one country to another. Very quickly, she makes it her favourite theme.
Her massive use of calligraphy, essentially a male practice, defies convention. Inspired by her own life, she draws on her cultural mix to offer an elegant and hypnotic art form.
Nadia Tehran, the refugee rapper
The artist made people talk about her a year or two ago, in the middle of the refugee crisis. Coming herself from political immigration — her parents having fled Iran and its Islamic revolution — it is in music that she chooses to express her thoughts.
Leading a punchline crusade against obscurantism and intolerance, her first EP (Life is Cheap, Death is Free) sounds like a manifesto, both young and militant. What do we love most? The clip of Refugee, illegally shot in her country of origin… where it is forbidden to sing in the street. •