I AM is a strategic visual art exhibition celebrating the rich, diverse and pivotal contribution that Middle Eastern women make to the enduring global quest for harmony and peace. Designed to address stereotypes and challenge misconceptions of the “other”, the I AM exhibition is a visual celebration of the crucial role that Middle Eastern women play as guardians of peace, celebrating their strengths and rich and diverse contributions in the enduring global quest for a more harmonious and peaceful future.
The I AM exhibition highlights what women contribute toward healing our world, because of their inherent connection to the sanctity of life. The exhibition will premiered in Amman, Jordan at the National Gallery of Fine Arts and will then be showcased in London at St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Trafalgar Square, following by touring of North America through the end of 2018, premiering in September in Washington, D.C. at the Katzen Arts Center of the American University.
31 premier women artists of Middle Eastern and North African heritage have been selected, covering a broad geographic area of 12 countries, from Morocco to Egypt to the Gulf States. One of which is esteemed Lebanese artist based in London, Zena Assi, who’s now showing in London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Trafalgar Square.
Zena Assi’s statement:
Every now and then, I pass by the streets of Beirut with my camera, and I take pictures of the graffiti on the walls. The tags keep changing so rapidly . . . Some old ones survive somehow, but this is the thing with graffiti, their beauty resides in the fact that they are fragile, completely public and unprotected. These pictures I constantly collect, end up being part of my work, they build my cities and dress my portraits . . . like the saying “if only walls could talk”. Our city walls tell so many stories, sometimes they even register the history of a country more reliably than any history book. They can translate the social, political, cultural and religious background of the city’s inhabitants
The title of this piece “Al Kouwa Fi Yad El Mar2a”, meaning “the force is in the hand of the woman,” is directly taken from a slogan sprayed on a wall of Hamra’s street in Beirut. This tagger must have imagined a strong woman, staring at you straight in the eyes, confronting her secrets, defying her culture, challenging her scars and enjoying her complexity. I always go back to see if it is still out there, claiming high and bright the power of women! Next to it there is another one stating “fight rape”, but unfortunately this one has lately been covered in black spray in a desperate attempt to erase it.