New York’s 2015 Armory Show has an impressive Middle Eastern focus

The Armory Show takes place every year on two of Manhattan's piers in New York. Images courtesy of The Armory Show
Powered by automated translation

Omar Kholeif, an Egyptian-British curator, who currently works at London’s Whitechapel gallery and is also the guest curator for next year’s Abraaj Group Art Prize, which culminates at Art Dubai, has also been announced as the curator for the Focus section at next year’s Armory Show in New York.

Kholeif is heading the section, which not only covers the Middle East and North Africa but also the Mediterranean. Lawrence Abu Hamdan, a London and Beirut-based Lebanese artist has also been announced as the commissioned artist.

The Armory Show, a leading international contemporary and modern art fair is one of the most important global art events and takes place every March on two piers in central Manhattan.

For next year, Abu Hamdan has been tasked with helping to create the visual identity of the upcoming fair as well as produce both a limited edition artwork with proceeds benefitting New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Abu Hamdan, whose research is mainly focused on the relationship between listening and speaking as well as the political undercurrent of human rights and international law, is known for his audio works.

Earlier this year, he made a commissioned piece for Saout Radio and Kunst Radio called “Aural Contracts Audio Archive mix” where the reflected on politics, borders, human rights, testimony, truth and international law.

At the core of his work for The Armory Show are the fundamental concepts of political speech – the oath, right to silence, freedom of press – often demonstrating that the battle for free speech is largely about controlling the conditions in which we are heard.

Noah Horowitz, the Armory Show’s director, who I caught up with at last week’s Abu Dhabi Art explains a little more.

“In New York there area a few galleries and institutions that have been active with Middle Eastern artists for a few years but truly it is not at the level of other parts of the world – say London or Europe - and what the Armory is trying to do is serve as a catalyst or platform to give greater visibility and recognition to what’s happening here.”

* The Armory Show takes place from March 5-8 on Piers 92 & 94 in Manhattan, New York