Kuwait Isn’t Really There and Other Stories from the Museum
October 21 – December 11, 2021
Aseel AlYaqoub, Sameer Farooq & Mirjam Linschooten, Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn, Emii Alrai
This group exhibition conceptualized by guest curator Matthew Kyba questions how the museum’s history as a colonial tool for Western pedagogy influences the stories we tell. To elucidate the unseen politics within the display systems and political agendas of cultural institutions, the four featured artists/artist duos appropriate various museological practices—collection, didactics, video, sculpture, presentation techniques and artifacts—to self-referentially question how such institutions dictate politicized stories. Kuwait Isn’t Really There and Other Stories from the Museum undermines the museum’s colonial past and current pedagogy by probing how these settings shape public opinion and social understanding of different histories and contemporary conditions.
Matthew Kyba is the Curator of Exhibitions at the Visual Arts Centre of Clarington. Recent curated exhibitions have been presented (or will travel to) The Art Gallery of Hamilton, Museum London, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Ottawa Art Gallery, as well as numerous Canadian public arts non-profit institutions. He currently lives in Oshawa Ontario with his dog Rico.
Emii Alrai is an artist based in Leeds. Alrai’s practice is informed by inherited nostalgia, geographical identity and post-colonial museum practices of collecting and displaying objects. Focusing on the ancient mythologies from the Middle East alongside personal oral histories of Iraq, Alrai weaves together narratives by forging artefacts and visualising residues of cultural collision. Drawing references from objects in museum collections, ancient writing from the Middle East and cultural memories, her work questions the value and origins of artefacts, as well as navigating the experience of diaspora. She studied her BA in Fine Art and an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at The University of Leeds. She was selected for the 2021 Triangle Astérides Residency (Marseille) and received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation award in 2020. Recent and Upcoming exhibitions include: Jerwood Solo Presentations (current 2021), Eastside Projects (2022), The Tetley, Leeds, UK (2020); VITRINE, London (2019), Two Queens, Leicester, UK (2019); GLOAM, Sheffield,UK (2018).
Sameer Farooq is a Canadian artist of Pakistani and Ugandan Indian descent. His interdisciplinary practice enlists the tools of sculpture, installation, photography, documentary filmmaking, writing and the methods of anthropology. The result is often a collaborative work which counterbalances how dominant institutions speak about our lives: a counter-archive, new additions to a museum collection, or a buried history made visible. With exhibitions at institutions around the world including the Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), The British Library (London), the Institute of Islamic Culture (Paris), Vicki Myhren Gallery (Denver), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Maquis Projects, (Izmir), Trankat (Tétouan, Morocco), Sol Koffler Gallery (Providence), Artellewa (Cairo), and Sanat Limani (Istanbul), Farooq received several awards from The Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and the Europe Media Fund, as well the President’s Scholarship at the Rhode Island School of Design. Reviews and essays dedicated to his work have been included in Artforum, C Magazine, The Washington Post, BBC Culture, Hyperallergic, Artnet, The Huffington Post, Canadian Art, and others. He also appeared on the 2018 Sobey Art Award long list, Canada’s preeminent art award.
Mirjam Linschooten (b. 1976, Leiden, Netherlands) is a Dutch visual artist, researcher and writer. She completed an MA at the Dutch Art Institute (NL) and a BFA at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy (NL). Her multidisciplinary practice is concerned with how cultural heritage institutions represent history, exploring tactics of representation and the way memory is constructed, forms of collecting and aesthetics of display. Her work includes installation, film, publications and performance. Her work has been exhibited at institutions nationally and internationally, including Stroom Den Haag, Cemeti (Yogyakarta), De Appel (Amsterdam), AGO (Toronto), Het Wilde Weten (Rotterdam), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Vicki Myhren Gallery (Denver), the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Trankat (Tétouan), Artellewa (Cairo) and Sanat LImani (Istanbul).
Jacqueline Hoàng Nguyễn is a visual artist using archives and a broad range of media including, but not exclusively, photography, film, video, sound and printmaking to investigate issues of historicity, collectivity, utopian politics and multiculturalism via feminist theories. Currently based in Stockholm, she is a PhD candidate in the ‘Art, Technology and Design’ program at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Nguyễn previously completed the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York, in 2011, having obtained her MFA and a post-graduate diploma in Critical Studies from the Malmö Art Academy in 2005, and a BFA from Concordia University, Montreal, in 2003. Her work has been shown internationally, including at the Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm (2021); Borås Art Biennial, Borås (2021); Trinity Square Video, Toronto (2019); Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah (2018); Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Philadelphia (2018); MAMA, Rotterdam (2018); SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin (2017); EFA Project Space, New York City (2016); Mercer Union, Toronto (2015).
Aseel AlYaqoub is a research-based and multi-disciplinary artist working across the disciplines of history, political theory, and cultural sociology. Her practice speaks to the inherited methodologies that define nationhood, state apparatuses, and the counterfeit identities they produce. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, and a Master’s in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, New York. AlYaqoub was selected as one of the curators for the Kuwait Pavilion at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale, 2021, and was awarded the Art Jameel Commission in collaboration with Alia Farid in 2018. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Humour and Satire (Gabrovo), Edge of Arabia (London), Pierogi Gallery (New York), The Design Terminal (Budapest), Sultan Gallery (Kuwait), Museum of Modern Art (Kuwait) and The Contemporary Art Platform (Kuwait). Her research has been presented at symposiums such as Abu Dhabi Art (Abu Dhabi), Nuqat Conference (Kuwait) and The National Museum (Doha).