Taking A Stand: New York’s New Institute of Arab and Islamic Art

BY Katrina Kufer / Apr 22 2017 / 15:54 PM

In the face of contentious travel bans, New York will inaugurate its new institution dedicated to Arab and Islamic art with four female artists

Taking A Stand: New York’s New Institute of Arab and Islamic Art
Image courtesy the artist and The Third Line, Dubai
Monir Farmanfarmaian. Untitled. 2012. Felt marker, colour pencil and mirror on paper. 70 x 100 cm.

Qatari national Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani has set in motion the opening of a 2,500 square metre independent, non-profit centre in downtown Manhattan. Dedicated to Arab and Islamic art, the Institute for Arab and Islamic Art will host four travelling exhibitions annually, with the aim of becoming a “knowledge building facility” that breaks stereotypes and questions media-induced conceptions. The institute also plans a residency and talks programme, and will produce publications.

Its inaugural exhibition, Exhibition 1, will feature artworks by Saudi Dana Awartani, Iranian Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian and Indian artists Zarina Hashmi and Nasreen Mohamedi. “The artists in Exhibition 1 share the experience of living with Islamic architecture despite originating in vastly different places and environments and leading vastly different lives,” reads a statement from the institute. Examining the methodology of each artist’s interpretation, the curatorial remit asks viewers to consider “How do we respond to the spaces we have experienced and how does that compare to the way we remember them?” and “How much do history, nostalgia, self-exile and solitude impact the way we visualise our memories?” The works on paper and prints on show will be housed in a temporary home in lower Manhattan until the institution finds a permanent location.
Serving as a much needed platform in light of Trump’s “Muslim ban”, the institute opens alongside an existing list of art schools denouncing the order and the Museum of Modern Art implementing a rehanging of artists from the affected region. “The continued misconceptions of the Arab and Islamic worlds have limited and damaged cultural interactions and exchanges with the United States,” the institute states. “The lack of facilities, resources and opportunities dedicated to Arab and Muslim artists in New York City has continued to alienate these individuals from a broader global conversation.” In further comments to the The Art Newspaper, Al-Thani said, “We exist because of an ever-challenging environment, and the current political climate in the US will only encourage us to continue our hard work and make sure that through our institute’s programme, we will be able to engage the community to learn more about our cultures and differences.”
Exhibition 1 will open 4 May at 3 Howard Street, New York, USA. For more information visit instituteaia.org