Don’t Miss Sudanese Political Cartoonist Khalid Albaih’s “Stumbling Is Not Falling” Exhibition At ArtX In New York

BY Rebecca Anne Proctor / Jul 30 2019 / 22:13 PM

The exhibition celebrates the artist’s month-long Freedom residency staged in conjunction with Artists at Risk Connection (ARC)

Don’t Miss Sudanese Political Cartoonist Khalid Albaih’s “Stumbling Is Not Falling” Exhibition At ArtX In New York
Courtesy of the artist
A work by Khalid Albaih

A black hand holds a lighter and presses his thumb down to light a flame. The action is framed by a large orange circle depicting the sudden light in what would have been a dark room. Like many of Sudanese political cartoonist Khalid Albaih’s works, the meaning behind this cartoon gives rise to the need for freedom of expression, especially for artists living in nations where this isn’t always possible.

Head to ArtX, a new artists’ club and cultural platform founded by Stephen Stapleton and Phoenix Eisenberg and located in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district and you’ll uncover AlBaih’s world through a plethora of evocative cartoons answering the need for artistic freedom of expression around the world.

The residency is the first in a series of residencies with Pen America’s artist at Risk Connection (ARC) that supports threatened artists. Albaih’s residency follows ArtX’s first project, The Game-All Things Trump featuring the work of Andres Serrano.

Khalid Albaih. Courtesy of the artist

“ArtX is a new members club activated through an immersive artist-led programme,” say Stapleton and Eisenberg. Stapleton is also the founding director of Edge of Arabia, CULTURUNNERS, and the UK charity The Crossway Foundation. “In an increasingly disconnected world, ArtX aims to bring together like minded individuals through experiential art. ArtX fosters an international dialogue that allows each member to feel part of a living cultural movement.” Such a community-driven initiative couldn’t be needed more than now during a time when tensions between the east and the west are high. Art, believes Stapleton, can be a catalyst for change. The club will open a second location in East London in September.

Albaih is known for his provocative cartoons depicted in vibrant block colors that convey criticisms of authoritarian regimes. They also offer hope for solidarity and a better future. Like many of his contemporaries, he has been championing the #BlueforSudan social media tag to show support for pro-democracy protesters in Sudan.

His inaugural Freedom residency coincides with the artist’s first major US exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville and is a continuation of Albaih’s 2016 US Culturunners road trip project titled The Story of Civil Rights is Unfinished, which explored politics, race and the American civil rights movement against an international backdrop of transnational human rights initiatives. The works on view at ArtX are all about global injustice and the fight for solidarity.

A work by Khalid Albaih. Courtesy of the artist

“This is a very important time for the Sudanese diaspora to stand up for those fighting for freedom and hope back home,” says the artist. “Despite the backlash, Sudanese pro-democracy groups, including many local artists and musicians, have persevered in their peaceful resistance, sometimes paying with their lives. Despite the anger and pain of losing friends and family, there is no turning back and there can be no change in direction at this point.

The show takes the title Stumbling Is Not Falling famously said by American Muslim minister and human rights activist, Malcom X (1925-65). “As Malcom X advised, ‘Stumbling is not falling,’ adds Albaih. “Now is the time for the international community to amplify the voices of those fighting for their freedom on the ground.”

A work by Khalid Albaih. Courtesy of the artist

AlBaih’s claim to fame stems from his cartoon of NFL Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, with a black power fist afro. After it went viral, activists, sports fans and celebrities, including Spike Lee, Snoop Dog and Chance the Rapper, wore apparel featuring AlBaih’s image. Little did they know that the cartoonist was already famous in the Arab world for his thought-provoking art challenging today’s most oppressive regimes.

The exhibition is open to the public until the end of July at ArtX located on 409 West 14th Street, New York.