Whitebox Zooms In on the Middle East

Beyond the Cloth, a group show at WhiteBox, showcases artists’ work inspired by and using the Kafiye, articulating a meta-narrative about the complexities of Arab culture and identity.

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Beyond the Cloth brings together an array of work ranging from portraiture, installation art, video art, and street art stickers, to performance art that dissects and re-articulates the graphical patterns on the Kafiye itself. Encompassing the potent, the bold, the intricate, and the minimal, these works reflect the clashes and compatibilities of identity and politics within and beyond the Arab world. Some utilize this garment in works that explore the boundaries of transgression, particularly in the context of female identity in the Arab world, and commercial identity in Arab-West relations. Others, through their use of abstract imagery seem to echo the weaving together and unraveling of boundaries, fences, and barriers, both literal and metaphorical. Both directly and indirectly, all seem embedded in political articulations of the region, and the multifarious identities within it.

Picking up this theme, Unveiled–a day of performance–depicts the Arab world as an explosive melting pot of identities in the face of political strife. With Syria on the brink of war, Egypt grappling with its post-revolutionary identity and politics, and Lebanon reflecting on the legacy of its civil war, the performances explore the complexities of life in this region. Hadi Eldebeck, Plus Aziz, Kevork Mourad, and Chris Carr explore traditional and transgressive expressions both within and between Arab and African American cultures. Ferran Martin and Rosalinda Gonzales take up combative themes including destruction, protest, ritual, and religion, and Parsha Radetzki gestures at progress with particular emphasis on Syria. True to the plethora of approaches to the Kafiye as symbol, Igor Molochevski and Ella Averbukh explore the Kefiye’s graphical dimensions. Finally, Anthony Haden-Guest punctuates the works with readings that explore the complexity of these themes in the context of Lebanon’s Civil War.

WhiteBox welcomes you to join a timely conversation on artistic expressions that reflect on a turbulent, multifarious, and intricately complex region.