Kunsthall Stavanger is proud to present I Heard You Laughing, an exhibition of video work from the Middle East in its broad acceptation, curated by Myriam Ben Salah and Martha Kirszenbaum.
Artists from the Middle East are often associated with narratives of struggle and rhetoric of the past. Some end up making works that are almost a response to a Western “tacit commission”—as coined by Moroccan scholar Mohamed Rachdi—arbitrarily linking authenticity with traumatic storytelling. I Heard You Laughing borrows its title from 14th century Persian poet Hafez’s book I Heard God Laughing, in which he lauded the joys of love, humor and irony, three clogged pillars of Middle-Eastern culture that are making a controversial comeback in the works of a younger generation of artists from the region.
I Heard You Laughing reflects on the importance of popular culture, the omnipresence of technologies and the role of music and dance, while tackling a form of vernacular disorientalism and conveying a certain digital cosmopolitanism. It comprises selected music videos from iconic Middle-Eastern musicians of the 1950s-60s-70s alongside video works by contemporary artists that reflect the complexities of this often oversimplified ‘East-West’ configuration.
Participating artists include: Sarah Abu Abdallah, Sophia Al-Maria, Fatima Al Qadiri and Khalid Al Gharaballi, Meriem Benanni, Tabita Rezaire, Dor Zlekha Levy, Ferhat Özgür, Bendaly Family, Fairuz and Googoosh.