Omar Kholeif to Curate 2015 Armory Show’s “Focus” Sector
Curator and writer Omar Kholeif, of London’s Whitechapel Gallery, will curate the “Armory Focus” section at the 2015 edition of New York’s Armory Show art fair (March 5–8), which will highlight art from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Mediterranean (an impossibly vast and diverse region encompassed by the acronym “MENAM”). The “Focus: MENAM” section will be presented in collaboration with London-based non-profit Edge of Arabia, which forges art and education exchanges between the West and the Middle East.
“In canvassing a range of trusted colleagues on the most dynamic curators working here, Omar’s name kept coming up and his proposal, with historical undertones and a desire to bridge parts of North Africa and the Mediterranean to the Middle East conversation, was stimulating,” said Armory Show managing director Noah Horowitz. “We have a rich tradition at The Armory Show of supporting artists and curators on the rise, and Omar fits brilliantly into this heritage—we couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with him.”
A lineup of galleries from the “Focus” region, curated by Kholeif—some veterans of the art fair circuit, others making their international debuts—will present focused solo booths, site-specific installations, thematic group shows, and historic mini-surveys highlighting artists from the MENAM countries. One artist will be selected to be the Armory Show’s commissioned artist for 2015—expect that announcement on October 27.
“Despite broad recognition of this region’s deep cultural heritage and some excellent recent exhibitions dedicated to its contemporary artistic landscape, the reality is that the breadth of artistic energy and debate now flourishing here has not had a great deal of visibility in the US to date—especially within the market,” Horowitz added. “Our hope is to address this by providing a meaningful context for galleries and artists from this region to gain a foothold in New York, as well as a springboard to a wider international audience of curators, collectors, critics, and art enthusiasts.” A large swath of the MENAM region was the subject of the New Museum’s fantastic, just-closed exhibition “Here and Elsewhere” (see “Palestinians and Arabs Hang Tough at the New Museum“).
This will be the sixth edition of the “Armory Focus” section, with previous editions being devoted to China (2014), the USA (2013), Nordic countries (2012), Latin America (2011), and Berlin (2010).
“In today’s increasingly crowded landscape, fairs have to work tirelessly to differentiate themselves from each other and to introduce new galleries, artists, and positions to the market,” said Horowitz. “The regional focus initiative is one of the clearest examples of how we strive to do so at the Armory.”
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