Artist Collective, Fehras, explores regional cultural traces of the Cold War
The Syrian trio participate in the exhibition with an art installation and publication that investigate the globalized political dimension of cultural and publishing practices during the late 1950s and early 1960s
For high resolution images of Fehras Publishing Practices’ artwork, please click here
Abu Dhabi, UAE – 10 January 2020: Fehras Publishing Practices, the artist collective established in Berlin by Syrian artists Sami Rustom, Omar Nicolas and Kenan Darwich, introduces two displays at Warehouse421’s current exhibition How to Maneuver: Shape-shifting texts and other publishing tactics. The installation, Borrowed Faces: The Research Space, and publication Borrowed Faces: A Photo Novel on Publishing Culture, both engage archival research to examine regional cultural practices during the Cold War, and investigate the influence of publishing practices during that period.
Their work focuses on the productions of publishers that inform us of ideologies, policies and strategies of publishing, as well as the type of voices that were encouraged at that time.
Borrowed Faces: The Research Space
The installation examines the end of the 1950s and the 1960s, which saw an intertwining of politics and culture in the Arab world, and was a definitive and rich moment in the history of regional cultural practices, including publishing. It focuses on how the regions of the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa became an integral part of the cultural Cold War, lending artistic and publishing practices a new globalized political dimension.
Borrowed Faces presents a research space which identifies and historicizes cultural figures and groups who were active at that time, alongside demonstrating publications’ roles in shaping emerging literary and poetic styles. The work charts the ancestry between today’s regional cultures with that of the 1960s, demonstrating the powerful wave of regional cultural globalization which was spurred sixty years ago.
The installation features a mural with drawings of publishers, writers, translators, international and local institutions, and conferences, alongside infographics which demonstrate professional relationships, funding arrangements, and friendships. Archival information on these individuals, in the form of newspapers, book covers, letters, memoirs, documents, and photographs, has been acquired by Ferhas, and is also on display.
Borrowed Faces: A Photo Novel on Publishing Culture
This photo-novel provides fresh and engaging stories that transport the reader to the age of the Cold War in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, tapping into the hidden practices of publishing culture. It is based on one year and a half of archival research and work between Beirut, Damascus and Berlin.
Borrowed Faces narrates the story of three women: Afaf Samra, Hala Haddad and Huda Al Wadi. Their respective fates brought them together, and they reveal the interplay between politics and culture through the prisms of power, money, creativity, and friendship. The three women, who each reflect a different background and ideology, are united through their shared experience of contradiction and inner struggle, contained in a cultural environment dominated by patriarchal, financial, and political power. They story expresses their ideas and ideologies in the setup of Beirut from the time.
Fehras Publishing Practices researches the history and presence of publishing in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa regions and the wider Arabic diaspora, alongside examining its entanglement in the socio-political and cultural spheres. Their work focuses on the relationship between publishing and art historiography, making Fehras an observatory for investigating publishing strategies and practices, and their relationship with the political and geographical transformation of the region.
Curated by the publishing initiative, Kayfa ta, How to Maneuver seeks to explore the act of publishing, or of making work public, and the impact that act has on our art, our society, and ourselves. The exhibition features over 40 works developed by artists, writers and publishers, presenting a range of pieces, with some featuring for the first time in the UAE.
How to Maneuver runs through to 16 February 2020. For further information, please visit Warehouse421.ae