Breaking news. Contemporary Photography from the Middle East and Africa


Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena is pleased to announce the exhibition BREAKING NEWS. Contemporary Photography from the Middle East and Africa, on display in the former Sant’Agostino hospital from 27 November 2010 to 13 March 2011. The exhibition presents the third group of acquisitions for the international contemporary photography, art film and video collection of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena.

Curated by Filippo Maggia, this major survey features 21 artists from 12 countries, including South Africa, Ghana, Cameroon, Morocco, Egypt, Nigeria, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Iran, with more than 100 works by internationally renowned names like Bob Gosani, Cedric Nunn, David Goldblatt, Samuel Fosso and Pieter Hugo, and other artists who are younger but already part of the international exhibition circuit, such as Mikhael Subotzky, Daniel Naudé, Hrair Sarkissian and Jinoos Taghizadeh.

After Asian Dub Photography at the end of 2008, an exhibition that presented the first section of the collection, on Far Eastern art, and History Memory Identity last winter, focusing on the art scene in East Europe, the Fondazione Fotografia now turns to the Middle East and Africa with Breaking News.

« As the title suggests – says the curator Filippo Maggia -, the idea for this exhibition is to use a selection of emblematic works that recently became part of the Fondazione di Modena collection to shed light on a part of the world that only makes the news with conflicts and bloody events. Breaking News is the journalism launch – typical of TV news – that announces the latest news. And if there is one part of the world that has supplied television networks all over the world with breaking news it is precisely the Middle East, followed and in some cases surpassed by Africa ».

Dominated for more than a century by the views induced by colonialism, Africa now expresses a variety of creative voices able to investigate not only the legacies of the past but also the complexities of the present.

Although the portrait is a genre that has been widely used in Africa – in the past as a means of claiming an independent identity – Apagya and Fosso’s images seem to insert the African reality into the globalised world to play with or critically question stereotypes; while Leye’s video works, moving from the theories of Negritude, ironically mock Western preconceptions of Africa.
The photos by a substantial group of South African artists – from the 1950s shots taken by Gosani, to those of the 1980s by Nunn, through to the contemporary research of Goldblatt, Bieber, Subotzky, Naudè and Hugo – define the historic parabola of a country that, emerging from Apartheid with Nelson Mandela’s dream of a Rainbow Nation, now finds itself facing new problems, such as serious social disruption and new forms of classicism.

The Middle East also presents a lively art scene capable of expressing the political, social and religious complexity of contemporary reality, even in places where freedom of expression or the right to existence itself are sorely tested. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the object of various artists’ research, including that of the Israeli video artist Yael Bartana, the Palestinians Ahlam Shibli and Taysir Batniji, the Lebanese Akram Zaatari and the Egyptian Wael Shawky.

The rapid changes that have taken place in some Arab and Middle Eastern countries in recent decades emerge from the works of artists like Hrair Sarkissian of Syria, whose photos are visions between the poetic and the documentary of Armenia, his country of origin; Yto Barrada, who seems to look at Morocco through « holes » opened up in the photographic memory; and Jinoos Taghizadeh, who reports on the current situation in Iran and its illiberal contradictions with her collages.

The list of the chosen artists also includes: Philip Kwame Apagya (Ghana), Yto Barrada (France/Morocco), Yael Bartana (Israel), Taysir Batniji (Palestinian), Jodi Bieber (South Africa), Mounir Fatmi (Morocco), Samuel Fosso (Cameroon), David Goldblatt (South Africa), Bob Gosani (South Africa), Pieter Hugo (South Africa), Goddy Leye (Cameroon), Daniel Naudé (South Africa), Cedric Nunn (South Africa), George Osodi (Nigeria), Hrair Sarkissian (Syria/Armenia), Wael Shawki (Egypt), Ahlam Shibli (Palestinian), Mikhael Subotzky (South Africa), Jinoos Taghizadeh (Iran), Guy Tillim (South Africa), Akram Zaatari (Libyan).

Press preview
Friday, November 26th, 11.30 a.m.

Saturday, November 27th, 18.30 p.m.
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