Banshee presents Gallery Girl: Women Supporting young Artists in the Middle East

On Tuesday 5th February Banshee Publications invited Gallery Girl to host a panel at London’s Library Club. With the aim of discussing how women are supporting young artists in the Middle East and North Africa region, as well as its diaspora, I was joined by artist Moza Almatrooshi, curator Lorén Elhili and deputy editor of Azeema Magazine Noor Palette, to speak about our role as cultural workers within the MENA diaspora, and how we navigate and support emerging artists from the region.

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Amongst many important topics we touched on the rise of women-only collectives, discussing the benefits of female empowerment and whether this is a global phenomenon. We also talked about the challenges, differences and similarities between working within the region versus working in diaspora. This saw us recognise our western privilege – with increased opportunities for work etc. – as well as an acknowledgement of having to deal with gazing back at culture in westernized terms. We also recognised the need to find ways to navigate authenticity and translation.

Living in London, but involved with the art scene in the MENA region, we tackled the issue of censorship and self-censorship, not just as artists, but as curators and writers too. Finally, we considered the impact of social media on our work, both in terms of algorithms and statistics, as well as the benefits of connecting like-minded people within the field from across the globe.

Here is a video clip of our discussion:

Banshee presents Gallery Girl: Women Supporting young Artists in the Middle East from Gallery Girl on Vimeo.

Moza Almatrooshi is based between The United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, where she is pursuing an MFA degree from Slade School of Fine Art. Almatrooshi’s practice explores themes of impermanence and irreversibility, in a geopolitical frame and context. Her work employs various mediums such as text, video, photography, and performance.

Lorén Elhili’s practice is invested in identity and social politics often through the personal lens of cultural hybridity as well as notions of collectivity and the political potential of art practices. Her theoretical background is informed very much by postcolonial trajectory though she is interested in troubling these in the contemporary context and working through new structures of thinking particularly pertaining to centring of knowledge from lived experience.  She is very much invested in the centring of ‘minority’ discourses, those outside of a Eurocentric art history, and to thinking through these revisionist histories in relation to the entanglements of a diasporic experience and the potentiality of these experiences to emancipate representation and identity within our futures.

Noor Palette is the deputy editor of AZEEMA Magazine, an independent print magazine exploring Women within the MENASA region, diaspora and Women of Colour. Garnering an international following with three printed issues, AZEEMA pushes the boundaries by extending important conversations in a safe space where women can feel celebrated and represented. Noor is also a DJ, radio producer and painter with work showcased in various London galleries, such as Blyth Gallery and Menier Gallery, as well as in Khobar, Saudi Arabia

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer and curator. She is the founder of Gallery Girl - a London-based curatorial platform and website dedicated to modern and contemporary art from across the globe. Her work is primarily focused on supporting emerging female artists from the Middle East and the Caucasus. She has written for Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, Suitcase and Vice Arabia among other publications. Her exhibitions in London and Armenia have been featured in Vogue Arabia, The Art Newspaper, The Art Gorgeous and numerous other news outlets. Gallery Girl has also spoken in the UK, UAE and Belgium about the contemporary art scene in the MENA region, and is planning further events in London and Amman.

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