The US autumn art season continues a year that has seen a number blockbuster institutional exhibitions by Middle Eastern and North African artists in art centres of New York and Los Angeles, alongside visits to off-kilter destinations that will be well worth the pilgrimage. This summer in New York, Iranian-American auteur, Reza Abdoh had his first US survey exhibition, Radical Visions at MOMA PS1 (3 June – 3 September 2018), highlighting his influence in the world of theatre and performance.
In Los Angeles, In the Fields of Empty Days: The Intersection of Past and Present in Iranian Art (6 May – 9 September 2018) at LACMA was a thoughtful showcase of ‘the continuous and inescapable presence of the past in Iranian society,’ by artists including Pouya Afshar, Fereydoun Ave, Siamak Filizadeh, Shadi Ghadirian, Ramin Haerizadeh, Shirin Neshat, Parviz Tanavoli, and Newsha Tavakolian. Currently on view in MASS MoCA is renowned Lebanese-American painter, Etel Adnan’s show A yellow sun A green sun a yellow sun A red sun a blue sun (7 April 2018 – 11 March 2019) showcases a selection of paintings in oil and ink, alongside a small reading room of her written works.
In New York, Palestinian artist and filmmaker, Emily Jacir’s La Mia Mappa (7 September – 27 October 2018) at Alexander and Bonin brings together recent works reflecting on Rome, a city she cites as her spiritual home and her work La mia Roma (omaggio ai sampietrini) (2016) is an homage to both walking and labour. Notes for a Cannon was commissioned for The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin between 2016 – 2017 and reflects on both the site of IMMA and the events which took place during the Easter Rising of 1916. The work also references a clock tower that once stood at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem before being destroyed by the British in 1922 thus erasing this history. A not to be missed site-specific installation by Pakistani artist, Humi Bhaba titled We Come in Peace (2018) is the sixth commissions for The Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. The two larger than life sculptures comment on colonialism, war, displacement, and memories of place, and are made from found materials and the detritus of everyday life.
A trip to Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis for the first comprehensive in the United Stated dedicated to Siah Armajani is highly recommended. Follow This Line (8 September – 30 December 2018) by Armajani celebrates over sixty years Armajani’s work and is particularly poignant given that the artist has resided in the city since 1960. The exhibition is co-organized by the Walker Art Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.