• Monument Stories: Cities of the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula through Monument Biographies
    Anahi Alviso-Marino & Neïl Beloufa

Khalifa Qattan, “Untitled,” 1991. Globe Monument sketch, scanned archive on paper. Courtesy Khalifa and Lidia Qattan’s archives, Kuwait. Photo: Anahi Alviso-Marino

In the 1970s, Kuwait City, Aden, and Jeddah underwent an extraordinarily dynamic period, attracting cultural producers and agents who partook in designing the modern urban landscape of the Arabian Peninsula. Supported by state institutions, these cities reflected the national aspirations that local governments sought to realize through their urban cultural policy. Monuments and sculptures were commissioned to local and foreign artists to beautify public space and commemorate events, leaders, and sites. Albeit grand in size, the narratives behind their genesis remain largely unknown; rarely have there been studies contextualizing their historical, architectural, political, and artistic beginnings and significance. This research retraces the proverbial life and death of monuments, aiming to develop a multimedia map elaborating the multiple stories that constructed their biography. Conceived as a collaborative project incorporating creative practice and methods into its research design and output, this interactive map also tests hybrid knowledge production and publishing formats.

Anahi Alviso-Marino is a scholar and researcher specializing in political sociology of visual arts in the Arabian Peninsula and currently a postdoctoral fellow (ingénieure d'études) at the collective Penser l’urbain par l’image (Labex Urban Futures), University Gustave Eiffel. She obtained her doctorate at the University Paris 1-Sorbonne and the University of Lausanne, researching art and politics in Yemen; her master’s degree from Columbia University in New York; and her bachelor’s from Complutense University in Madrid. She works at the intersection of social sciences and artistic practices and has exhibited her archival and research materials from Yemen, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo (L’ennemi de mon ennemi, a project by Neïl Beloufa, 2018), and at the Villa Vassilieff (One of many stories. Art worlds in Yemen, 2017). She has contributed to Modern Art of the Arab World: Primary Documents (MoMA, 2018) and Future Imperfect: Contemporary Art Practices and Cultural Institutions in the Middle East (Sternberg Press, 2017). Her forthcoming book focuses on Yemen.

Neïl Beloufa’s practice spans film, sculpture, and installation. He studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris; the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris; California Institute of the Arts, Valencia; The Cooper Union, New York; and Le Fresnoy–Studio National des Arts Contemporain, Tourcoing, France. He has exhibited internationally, including solo shows at Hangar Bicocca, Milan, 2021; K11, Shanghai, 2016; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2016; Schinkel Pavilion, Berlin, 2015; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 2014; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2013; Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2012 and 2018 as well as the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2018. He took part in the International Contemporary Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 2013 and in 2019. His films have been screened at the Toronto, Rotterdam, London and Berlin international film festivals, and he was awarded grand prizes at the 54th and 57th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen. Since 2019, his practice includes digital art works, most recently creating “Screen-Talk,” a mini-series web-site experience currently on exhibition at Milan’s Pirelli HangarBicocca within the monographic installation “Digital Mourning.”