World Nomads Tunisia: FIAF’s Biennial Celebration Highlights The Country’s Changing Art Landscape


The Arab Spring countries of North Africa and the Middle East are ushering in a new generation of contemporary artists, eager to express their social and political perspectives in an era of post-revolutionary change. Journalists have taken notice, shining a light on the region and its potential for explosive creativity by reporting on individuals and communities in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen who are leading the way for a renewed artistic culture in their respective locations.

The World Nomads festival is echoing this sentiment by choosing Tunisia as their country of focus for the 2013 biennial celebration. For the fifth edition of the festival, the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) is hosting a month-long bevy of multi-media events in New York dedicated to the art, music, dance and theater of the North African state. From the street art of eL Seed to the musical compositions of Emel Mathlouthi, the series of exhibits, lectures and performances seeks to showcase the innovation and experimentation brewing all across Tunisia.

We chatted with Marie-Monique Steckel, President of FIAF, via email, who explained the festival's interest in Tunisia and the burgeoning contemporary art scene she's witnessed there.

By Tunisian artist eL Seed, who presented during "The After Revolution" event at IDEAS CITY Festival.

By Tunisian artist eL Seed, who presented during "The After Revolution" event at IDEAS CITY Festival.

What attracted you to the art world of Tunisia?

The timing of World Nomads Tunisia was particularly great. The explosion of young talent in Tunisia after the revolution made me consider Tunisia with renewed enthusiasm for the return of our biennial World Nomads festival, after focusing on the art and culture of Morocco in 2011. Indeed, when I had the chance to go [to Tunisia] six months ago with Elizabeth Krief Manardo, our Tunisian-born Visual Arts Advisor, we saw a real thriving scene with young talent, particularly the involvement of women in the arts scene, which we wanted to showcase in NY.

What types of art-making dominate the creative scenes in the country?

As you know, Street Art was illegal under the pre-revolutionary government, and is therefore a newly expanding medium for expression. Truly though, what dominates the new creative scene is music, songs, and photography. Our festival reflects this with three wonderful singers, notably Emel Mathlouthi, the voice of the revolution, who will perform songs banned in Tunisia at her concert at FIAF on May 22. The photography exhibition at White Box is also particularly powerful, with great pictures of street demonstrations and photos of women that capture the new creative scene in the country.

Emel Mathlouthi (Listen to her music here), who will be performing in New York on May 22, 2013.

Emel Mathlouthi (Listen to her music here), who will be performing in New York on May 22, 2013.

Source: The Huffington Post | By Katherine Brooks
Posted: 05/18/2013 3:46 am EDT
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