Sexuality Policy Watch

Alia Farid: Memory, space, movement

By Sonia Corrêa

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In November, 2016, SPW section on Art&Sexuality featured the work of Kátia Sepúlveda, one of the 46 women selected for the 32th São Paulo Art Bienal. In January 2017, we have chosen another of them to be one of the artists of the month. Alia Farid is Kuwaitian and lives in Puerto Rico. Spatialization, movement and memory are at the core of her artistic elaborations. In one of her most colorful  creations she combined photos and traditional woven carpets to portray the many Mosques of Puerto Rico (images above). She can and must be seen as an  icon of  the immigrants for whom the US borders have been closed by the Trump Executive Order of January 27th.

But there are other good reasons to now feature Farid. The she created for the  São Paulo Art Bienal documents a young women wandering through the abandoned Rashid Karami International Fairgrounds in Tripoli, in the North of Lebanon. As the Bienal Pavillion in São Paulo, the park – comprising 15 individual concrete forms – was projected by Oscar Niemeyer to host a world fair. But the construction stalled at the onset of the Lebanese civil war (1975). The young woman wanders across an archeological site of present times, stirring memories and bringing our attention towards the carnage perennially at work across and beyond the Arab-Israeli borders. The work speaks from and about a location that is hotspot of contemporary geopolitics.

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.17.25But the Rashid Karami ‘ruins’ can also be evocative for Brazilian readers. They mirror the huge stadiums built for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. These  gigantic structures -also doomed to abandonment and deterioration – are the hotspots of ongoing investigations of massive corruption involving major Brazilian constructing companies. Significantly enough, in the 1970’s, some of these companies started off  their international operations, under the sponsoring of the military regime, in Middle East. It is not entirely absurd to suppose that  one of these behemots was eventually involved in the Rashi Karami Park construction. One last observation: the title of Alia Farid’s work posted on home page slide show – Stage for any Revolution – is also very inspiring for the year that just began.

To learn more about Alia Farid’s work

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