In Rania Jishi’s latest installation, “Dinner Is Served,” she uses handmade ceramic plates as a medium to convey the suppressed emotions of women in dinner table rituals. On a dining table, the Palestinian artist places a stack of beautiful, embellished plates. Upon closer inspection, each of the plates has a statement of rejection or anger imprinted on the delicate dinnerware.
Jishi’s installation is one of the 26 artworks currently on display at Abu Dhabi’s Warehouse421, an arts and design center dedicated to showcasing and supporting regional talent. Curated by Sara bin Safwan and Sarah AlAgroobi, the exhibition, titled “As We Gaze Upon Her,” is a first of its kind in the UAE.
The exhibition reflects on ongoing ideas and conversations on feminism and female experiences in the West Asia, North Africa, and South Asia (WANASA) region. For instance, Amina Yahia, an Egyptian multidisciplinary artist, uses a canvas painting to highlight the events that unfolded in the country last year. In the summer of 2020, Egypt witnessed a mass awakening around sexual assault. Describing the painting as a “nonlinear timeline,” Yahia draws on these events to interrogate misogyny, the male gaze, and objectification. The layered painting features fragmented female forms wearing “modest” and “immodest” clothing — terms that are often used to justify sexual crimes.
The curators hope the exhibition will be a starting point for conversations on how the region’s women define and shape feminism. “There has been such a thirst and demand for these kinds of conversations to happen,” says Safwan. “We are very keen to see what this conversation will mean outside of the context of the region because it is reclaiming a narrative — their stories, for them and by them.”
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