A central component of Edge of Arabia's multi-year US Tour, the concurrent 3-month long residencies allowed Taysir and Foundland, comprised of Lauren Alexander and Ghalai Elsrakbi, to take part in ISCP's acclaimed studio program in Brooklyn from July to September 2014. The program's aim was to support the artists' practices and to immerse them in the cultural landscape of New York.
Nearly 200 applications were submitted by artists living and working across the Middle East, including Lebanon, Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Syria, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Iran and Algeria. The residency program reinforced Edge of Arabia's established goals of connecting Middle Eastern artists with new audiences, and exploring interconnected stories that link ideas and people across physical and psychological borders.
Marking Taysir's first trip to the US, the residency opened doors to introduce his practice to New York audiences and was self-designed by the artist to center around photography and video production. With a clear set of critical parameters, Foundland presented new installations, participatory talks and film screenings, as part of their ongoing investigation of subjective mapping and storytelling.
The ISCP’s flexible, high calibre program allowed the artists to undertake independent projects and work alongside curators during their residency, as well as join the ISCP’s esteemed community of international artists.
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Taysir Batniji (b. 1966, Gaza, Palestine) is an interdisciplinary visual artist who divides his time between France and Palestine. His practice incorporates drawing, painting, installation and performance, often closely related to his heritage – however since 2001 the artist has focused primarily on photography and video. Batniji has participated in numerous international exhibitions, including Untitled, 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011); Future of a Promise, a collateral event of the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); Seeing is Believing, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2011); and RAY 2012 Fotografieprojekte Frankfurt/Rhein-Main (2012). Taysir Batniji is represented by Galerie Sfeir-Semler, Hamburg & Beirut, and by Galerie Eric Dupont, Paris.
Foundland (established 2009) is a collective whose work draws on graphic design, art, writing and research. Comprised of the artists Ghalia Elsrakbi and Lauren Alexander, Foundland focuses on a critical analysis of topics related to political and locational branding through visual and written forms. Since 2011 it has centered more on the Middle East, with special interest in Elsrakbi’s homeland, Syria. Foundland has developed an expanding database of visuals and information, gathered from observations of media, activist groups and trends of political expression across social media. Drawing unexpected relations and connections, they create alternative narratives to media reporting through innovative image making and personal interpretation. Foundland has presented in group exhibitions including the Kadist Foundation, Paris (2012); Impakt Festival, Utrecht (2011, 2012); BAK, Utrecht (2012); and the Damascus Visual Arts Festival, Istanbul (2013) – and has presented lecture at Studium Generale ArtEZ, Arnhem; de Appel for Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam; Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague; Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam; and the Athens Biennial 2013. In 2013 they completed an artist residency at the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo.
Ghalia Elsrakbi (b. 1978, Damascus, Syria) completed a BA Graphic Design at Artez Hogeschool voor de Kunst, Arnhem, followed by a Masters in Design at the Sandberg Institute, Amsterdam. In 2009, she followed a research post-graduate at Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht. Since 2011 she has been involved with various activist groups promoting creative dissidence in Syria and since 2013 she has been based in Cairo, Egypt.
Lauren Alexander (b. 1983, Cape Town, South Africa) completed a BA Graphic Design at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, followed by a Masters in Design at the Sandberg Institute and an MFA at the Dutch Art Institute, Arnhem. She is member of the tutoring staff at the Royal Academy of Arts in the Hague.
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