Museum Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany
Works from Desert of Pharan and View Masters and Slides, from 100 Found Objects featured in this group exhibition curated by Verena Hein looking at the aspects of the Middle East that garner media attention, from the dramatically morphing skylines of its cities, to arenas of conflict. The exhibition was the first time Ahmed's work was shown in Germany.
The rising cities of the Gulf region and arenas of conflict in the Middle East are captivating subjects of media coverage. Both in terms of their content and through their manipulative aesthetic, the often extreme images shape a western view of the region. In this exhibition, works by twelve artists were presented to counter that flood of images with alternative perspectives on social conditions.
The exhibition title refers to the concept of “grounding” in communication theory, which posits that communication partners share common knowledge, which allows for dialog to be successful. The artists’ cross-media works put this knowledge to the test. Ultra-modern urban construction and mass demonstrations are subjects that point to global aspiration and tradition. There is a notable broadening of artistic image-making to reflect on overriding themes such as space itself and the characteristics and possibilities of public space. Conceptual works go beyond a documentary approach and reveal social structures oscillating between West and East, sensing a cultural continuity under the surface of new urban phenomena such as Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The change in this region can also be seen as a global realignment.
The collecting and archiving of objects, which gain in value due to personal selection and presentation, makes for a subjectively structured and at times also biographical narrative style, thereby reflecting and condensing collective historiography. The artists included in the exhibition conceive of themselves as scholarly and searching; in their works they collect, archive and research imagery that, as material appropriated from others, reveals stories that lie underneath the surface of known historiography. They have adopted a view from the outside, which allows them to subject their own experiences to scrutiny and to process such analytical reflections in artistic terms.
The exhibition was accompanied by a catalogue edited by Michael Buhrs and Verena Hein and published by Hatje Cantz Verlag. Ahmed's work featured on the cover.
In addition to an introduction by Verena Hein, essays by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, Achim Borchard-Hume, DAAR, Chris Dercon, Francisco-Fernando Granados, Nadja Henle, Omar Kholeif, Markus Miessen, Salwa Mikdadi, Nat Muller, Diana Nawi, and Venetia Porter offer a closer look at the artists and their works.