FotoFest announces the selection of 48 leading contemporary Arab artists for its principal exhibitions in the 2014 Biennial, VIEW FROM INSIDE. The 15th edition of the international Biennial in Houston, Texas (March 15 - April 27, 2014), presenting contemporary photo and media-related art from the Middle East and North Africa will be the largest program of its kind in the United States in more than a decade.

VIEW FROM INSIDE features artists living and working in 13 countries – Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen. Some of the artists will be exhibiting their work in the United States for the first time. Seventeen of the artists are women. Many of the artists will travel to Houston to participate in lectures, tours, and other programs during the Biennial.


  • UAE: Ebtisam AbdulAziz, Khalil Abdul Wahid, Karima Al Shomely, Lamya Gargash, Mohammed Kazem
  • Saudi Arabia: Manal Al Dowayan, Shadia Alem, Reem Al Faisal, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Jowhara AlSaud, Sami Al-Turki, Abdulnasser Gharem, Maha Malluh, Ahmed Mater, Faisal Samra

image Jowahara AlSaud / Cup, 2010. From the series Out of Line / Courtesy of the Artist and Athr Gallery

  • Palestine: Rula Halawani, Ahmed Jadallah, Hazem Harb, Noel Jabbour, Steve Sabella, Tarek Al-Ghossein (Palestine/Kuwait)

image Tarek Al Ghoussein / (In) Beautification, 1333, 2011 / Courtesy of the Artist and The Third Line

  • Egypt: Lara Baladi, Shady El-Noshokaty, Ayman El Semary, Khaled Hafez, Nermine Hammam, Hazem Taha Hussein, Georges Fikry Ibrahim, Huda Lutfi, Wael Shawky, Ayman Ramadan, Youssef Nabil

image Huda Lutfi / Marching on Crutches (detail), 2011 / Courtesy of the Artist

image Nermine Hammam/ Sham el Nasseem (Spring), 2011 / Courtesy of the Artist

  • Lebanon: Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Samer Mohdad, Camille Zakharia

image Samer Mohdad / Untitled, 1994. From the series Mes Arabies / Remains of the Sun Temple of the Sabaen Kingdom, Marib, Yemen, 1994 / Courtesy of the Artist

  • Morocco: Hicham Benohoud, Lalla Essaydi, Mounir Fatmi, Hassan Hajjaj

image Hassan Hajjaj / Joe Casely Hayford, 2011, From the series Rock Stars VI, 2009-2012 / Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line

image Hicham Benohoud / Untitled, 2010 / Courtesy of the artist and Atelier 21

  • Syria: Ammar Al Beik, Tammam Azzam
  • Iraq: Sadik Alfraji, Sama Alshaibi
  • Yemen: Boushra Almutawakel
  • Qatar: Khalifa Al Obaidly
  • Bahrain: Mohamed Kanoo
  • Oman: Hassan Meer

FotoFest has commissioned German curator Karin Adrian von Roques as the Lead Curator for the Biennial. Ms. von Roques is known for her work, over the past 20 years, bringing contemporary Arab art to international museums and galleries throughout the world. She is working with FotoFest Co-Founder and Senior Curator Wendy Watriss to organize the 2014 Arab exhibitions.

“Our focus on Arab art was not motivated by opportunism related to the Arab world’s current prominence in the media, but rather by a genuine conviction that the U.S. and Western audiences should have the opportunity to hear from more voices in the region and see the Arab world in more nuanced ways,” says Ms. Watriss. “Finding high quality art from around the globe that engages with the issues of our world is what FotoFest does.”

The Arab artists in the FotoFest 2014 Biennial address issues ranging from the regionally specific to the global. The themes are multi-layered, addressing fundamental issues from an inside perspective; from Arab artists who live and work in the region.

“The exhibitions are not about the curator’s voice,” says Ms. von Roques. “They are about the artists and what is important to them. The diverse range of works that we will exhibit during the Biennial is not easy to categorize because we did not impose any agenda on the project other than to show the very best contemporary work from the region that we could find. It was only when looking at the final selection, after four years of research and viewing the individual works, that we discovered how many of the works explore similar concepts and themes. These are themes that are not unfamiliar in the West or the rest of the world. What differentiates the works is the particular ways in which individual Arab artists address the concerns and issues of their own cultures.”


Founded in 1983, FotoFest International was established to promote international awareness of museum-quality photo-based art from around the world. FotoFest is a non-profit photographic arts and education organization based in Houston, Texas. The first FotoFest Biennial was held in 1986. It is the first and longest running photographic arts festival in the United States. It is considered as one of the leading international photography Biennials in the world. As an international platform for serious photographic arts exhibitions, the FotoFest Biennial has become known as a showcase for the discovery and presentation of important new work and new talent from around the world. The Biennial takes place citywide in Houston with participation from the leading art museums, art galleries, non-profit art spaces, universities and civic spaces. The 2014 Arab exhibitions will take place in FotoFest’s headquarters gallery and three to four additional FotoFest art spaces. The Biennial has an audience of 275,000 people from 34 countries. This audience includes a select group of 150 museum curators, gallerists, publishers, editors, photography collectors, directors of non-profit art spaces and international festivals from Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada and the United States.

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