What: “Not About Bombs”
Where: Intermedia Arts, 2822 S. Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis
When: Jan. 31 through March 3
Cost: $3 suggested donation
The Western media is rampant with preconceived notions about women in the Middle East. In an unfortunate display of ethnocentrism, it seems to have trouble getting past hijabs and veils. Women are depicted as subservient and oppressed, and the conversation doesn’t go much further.
“Not About Bombs,” a new exhibit at Intermedia Arts, is challenging that notion in a major way.
“I’m tired of the dialogue being so surface level,” says curator Tricia Khutoretsky. “I want to know what these women are feeling and thinking. There’s so much going on in the Middle East right now and women are playing a really major role in change. There are a lot of other discussions that can happen.”
The exhibit, which opens at Intermedia Arts at the end of the month, collects around 40 works from five different Iraqi women.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project, a local nonprofit that works to promote dialogue between Americans and Iraqis through art, education, health and cultural exchange programs. The IARP sponsored another Khutoretsky-curated exhibition, entitled “Navigating the Aftermath,” at Regis Center for Art last year.
“We’ve done a lot of exhibits based around Iraqi and American perspectives on the war, and after all of the other exhibits I’d done, I felt like a specific female focus was lacking. So that was the goal for this exhibit,” she said.
“Not About Bombs”is focused on the war in Iraq and its effects on women. But according to Khutoretsky, it’s less about the practical effects of war and more about how women respond to it emotionally and how their identity is affected by it.
“It’s about what women are dealing with or what their thought process is having been part of a country that’s been at war for the past 10 years,” she says.
These effects are not always what one would expect, and that is represented first in the types of works being displayed.
“A lot of them are photo-based,” says Khutoretsky. “It’s contemporary art, and it’s looking at things differently instead of through a traditional painting or drawing.”
The piece being used to promote the exhibit, “Still/Chaos,” is part of collaborative series between Sama Alshaibi and Dena Al-Adeeb. It’s a conceptual photo piece that Khutoretsky thinks encapsulates what “Not About Bombs” is about.
“Still/Chaos” is a series of square photos showing the artists, clad in black, posed and contorted inside a white cube with their faces hidden. It’s difficult to tell what one is looking at immediately and compels one to look deeper and challenge assumptions.
“I think their work is really unexpected and striking. It makes you want to know what they were thinking about. I’m hoping that that imagery intrigues people to the point where they’ll come to the show and see the rest of the series,” Khutoretsky said.
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