publication at the intersection of genres

Menart Fair, the international modern and contemporary art fair dedicated to Middle Eastern and North African art, takes over the halls of the Boghossian Foundation – Villa Empain in Brussels for its third edition. A must event in Europe, giving pride to the African and Eastern art scene, especially to female artists. It will be discovered from February 3 to 5, 2023.

On the occasion of the exhibition last August At the edge of the world lives our vertigo – presented at the Abbaye de Jumièges – we spoke to Laure d’Hauteville, the exhibition’s curator at the time, about her undying love for the MENA countries and, above all, the need to bring the art scene, which has been in the background for too long, to international attention. A mission he chose to pursue through the creation of Menart Fair, an international modern and contemporary art fair dedicated to Middle Eastern and North African art. After its launch in Paris in 2021 and a successful relaunch in 2022, the event returns to the weekend of February 3-5 and will be hosted by the Boghossian Foundation – Villa Empain in Brussels.

More than a fair, Menart intends “create[r]bridges and enables[tre] close » across artistic disciplines and nations. Thus, this flagship Art Deco venue will feature more than 250 works of art and design by around 146 artists represented in 24 international galleries. 7 galleries featured in the exhibition will be dedicated to photography: Bessières, Ayn Gallery, Tanit, Hunna Art, Nathalie Obadia, Zalfia Halabi and In Situ – fabienne leclerc. From North Africa to the Middle East, through Iran and the Gulf countries, the event invites us to explore limitless creative horizons and ambitions. Youssef Nabil, Yasmina Hilal, Marion Boehm and Roger Moukarzel, Serge Najjar… There will be writings, portraits or street-art photography with different inspirations, sometimes linking collages with archives.

Wanting to shed more light on the productivity and uniqueness of art in these regions of the world, Laure d’Hauteville and Joanna Chevalier – curator and artistic director – highlight the programming, which is 42% female. More than thirty artists are women. It is a one-time observation, such as occurred to others: geographical origin, period of formation, figurative or abstract…” An important focus, evident in a continent still heavily influenced by patriarchal ideals.

© Eman Ali

Creation is superior to sex

Making space for diversity, raising awareness, multiplying discourse and positive initiatives… At the heart of the Menart Fair is the desire to support and share with underrepresented creators. “The place of the female artist in North Africa, the Middle East, the Gulf or Iran is neither easy to characterize nor the same everywhere: it changes from one point of this transverse continent to another, from decade to decade. , according to length and local history, proximity to the East or West, political-religious radicalism or tolerance…”, writes Laure d’Hauteville. Beyond the global spotlight, the exhibition reveals prominent actors of the contemporary MENA scene with the participation of dedicated art galleries. In particular, we mention Hunna Art, a gallery created in Dubai by Océane Sailly in 2021, which presents only women artists from the Gulf countries.

Among them, Omani photographer Eman Ali, who combines gender, religious and socio-political ideologies, was exhibited at the fair for the first time and attracted the attention of Laure d’Hauteville. “There is a picture of two young women in the desert with their faces masked by an aluminum disco ball. They challenge me and the audience spontaneously. It was as if they were telling us, “Look at me as much as you want, this is your reflection.” I like the idea of ​​someone else saying everything about us.”, he says. In this feminist artistic journey, the Menart Exhibition does not claim the gendered nature of its programming. Creation is above all else here. Because in the eyes of Laure d’Hauteville, the genre does not matter where the arts wander, intermingle and contribute to each other. The power of the messages conveyed is really made up of plural origins and roots. Walking through the grounds where creativity has replaced the flag of freedom, Menart Fair is a must-see, especially from afar.

© Youssef Nabil

© Youssef Nabil

Left © Yasmina Hilal, right. © Marion Boehm and Roger Moucarzel

© Yasmina Hilal

© Yasmina Hilal

© Eman Ali

Left © Eman Ali, right. Serge Najjar

© Serj Najjar

© Georges De Kinder

Boghossian Foundation – Villa Empain © Georges De Kinder

Opening image © Eman Ali

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