Gallery Girl: Best of 2018

To put it mildly, the past year has been explosive for Gallery Girl. On the blog, Gallery Girl has covered contemporary art exhibitions in both Europe and the Middle East, while also interviewing artists, curators and other leading art-world figures from across the globe. Offline, Gallery Girl has made her presence known through exhibitions in London and Armenia, and in articles for After Nyne, Canvas, Jdeed and Tribe. Elsewhere, pieces have appeared digitally on Hyperallergic, Artmejo, My.Kali, Halo Zine, Khabar Keslan, Banat Collective, EVN Report, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and the Armenia Art Fair Blog. There has also been coverage about Gallery Girl-related projects in The Art Newspaper, Al Madaniya, Vogue Arabia, The Art Gorgeous, Middle East Eye, Yasmina and Mille. So, as Gallery Girl looks back on the most challenging year yet, here are my personal favourite pieces of 2018:


  1. On Gallery Girl: Fred Wilson at Pace Gallery
'Fred Wilson: Afro Kismet',  March 23 - April 27, 2018, Installe
© Fred Wilson Courtesy Pace Gallery

‘You can’t forget anything that hurt so badly, went so deep, and changed the world forever.’

Wilson’s Afro Kismet put together objects from storage at the Pera Museum in Istanbul to shed light on a part of the past that had previously evaded documentation – namely African slaves living within the Ottoman Empire –to comment on the implications of ignoring certain peoples and events from history.


  1. For Harper’s Bazaar Arabia: A Look at East of West Gallery, in Santa Fe


A piece about a town, whose art scene had until recently been dominated by traditional Native American pottery, idyllic landscapes and southwestern art. East of West exhibits the work of contemporary artists from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and their diasporas. The article discussed what made the gallery’s founder, L. E. Brown, found such a space in New Mexico.


  1. An interview with Katia Boyadjian on Gallery Girl
Rachid, Fallahin, Katia Boyadjian, 1997 from A l’ombre d’Amon series, silver print black and white oil painted, 26 x 38.5 cm

I spoke with the Egyptian-Armenian artist about her mixed-media artwork. Born into a long line of photographers, Boyadjian lived in Cairo before resettling in Paris after the events in Suez of 1956. Both a muse and an artist, her work touches on her roots in the Middle East and Armenia.


  1. Musings on Curating. 10 lessons Gallery Girl has learnt
Installation view: Armenia Art Fair. Image courtesy Nata Sokolowska

Probably the most personal article ever posted on the blog, this piece documents what I have discovered from being thrown in at the deep end of the curatorial process.


  1. For Banat Collective: A feature on the women supporting the emerging Arab art scene
Shahad Nazer’s Deal With It. Commissioned by Halo Zine

The rise in awareness of female artists from and with roots in the Arab region has been huge in recent years. I spoke to the women behind the exhibitions and publications – ArtMeJo, Jdeed, Azeema, East of West, Halo Zine, Sahaba Club – who are supporting them.


  1. Armenia’s Contemporary Art Scene: A discussion about the future of art in the country with three local curators for EVN Report


I spoke to Anna Gargarian – founder of HAYP Pop Up Gallery – as well as Ella Kanegarian and Emma Harutyunyan about how they supporting young artists in Armenia and their hopes for the future.


  1. Gallery Girl meets Tabloid Art History


A fun Q&A about the impact of art history on pop culture and vice versa. Chloe Esslemont and Mayanne Soret touched on social media, reality TV, fashion and the notion of high culture.


  1. Pinched and Prodded: A conversation with Alireza Shojaian about his artwork exhibited at Beirut Art Fair for Khabar Keslan
Alireza Shojaian, Hamed Sinno et un de ses Frères, acrylic and colour pencil on wood board, 150 x 220 cm, 2018. Courtesy of artist.

In September of this year, Alireza Shojaian – together with Artlab Beirut – exhibited a double-portrait of Mashrou Leila’s Hamed Sinno and Anubis in Lebanon. The painting was full of political references to attitudes towards homosexuality in the Middle East


  1. On Gallery Girl: The women abstract expressionists forgotten by art history


A review of Amar Gallery’s history making exhibition, which shone a light on the female artists who belonged to an American art movement that until now has been perceived as purely male.


  1. An artistic examination of the impact of oil in the Middle East for Hyperallergic
Installation view of Crude, curated by Murtaza Vali, at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai. (Image by Mohamed Somji, courtesy of Art Jameel)

In the Jameel Art Centre’s inaugural exhibit, 17 artists explore how the discovery of oil in the Arab region has both harmed and benefited the people living there. An analysis of how the Dubai exhibition probes the oil industry’s impact on Middle Eastern society.

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier aka Gallery Girl is a writer and curator based in London. Her work has been featured in publications including Dazed, Hyperallergic and Vogue Arabia. She was curator of Perpetual Movement during AWAN Festival 2018 and in 2019 had a residency at the Lab at Darat Al Funun in Amman, Jordan. She has also worked with Armenia Art Fair for its inaugural edition and previously worked as an editor at I.B.Tauris Publishers. In 2019 she co-founded Arsheef, Yemen’s first contemporary art gallery. She has given workshops at Manara Culture in Amman, Jordan and Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK. As of 2020 she is currently in law school, with the ambition of greater understanding the intersection between art and the law.

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