Strictly Critical Video: Gopnik and Viveros-Fauné at the New Museum

Our critics discuss "Arab-ness" and Israel at "Here and Elsewhere".


“This is art that matters, this is as important as it gets,” says Blake Gopnik in this week’s Strictly Critical, our ongoing video series featuring Gopnik and fellow New York art critic Christian Viveros-Fauné. Their subject is “Here and Elsewhere,” the eye-opening, museum-filling survey of contemporary art from the Arab world currently at the New Museum.

The show, curated by Massimiliano Gioni alongside Natalie Bell, Gary Carrion-Murayari, Helga Christoffersen, and Margot Norton, features more than 45 artists from across the Middle East and North Africa, taking up all five floors of the building (including the lobby and staircases). Though subject matter is diverse, the general theme is artists who are taking a questioning attitude to the processes of image- and art-making.

The initiative is part of the New Museum’s series of wide-ranging geographical surveys, which also included the much-acclaimed “Ostalgia,” surveying post-Soviet art from Eastern Europe. Still, given the current headlines coming out of Syria, Iraq, and Occupied Territories, the timing of “Here and Elsewhere” has given it an extra charge, a fact Gopnik and Viveros-Fauné both note.

In his previous review of “Here and Elsewhere” for artnet News, Viveros-Fauné had the following to say, summing up the show:

Whatever their gifts or shortcomings, the artists in “Here and Elsewhere” retain—thanks to their volatile geography and the West’s lack of curiosity—significant disadvantages when it comes to being embraced by the global art industry. But, they do have something our artistic capitals urgently lack: critical thinkers who know that art is never, ever truly divorced from life’s triumphs and nightmares, they are artists of their time.

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