Banat El Hara, which translates to ‘Women of the Neighborhood,” is an exhibition by Arab women artists to make sense of complex, idiosyncratic relationships with the SWANA region while living in the diaspora. It is organized and curated by Dahlia Dandashi, Rama Duwaji and Karina Dandashi, all of whom also have art in the show. It will be on display from April 7-9 at HappyMonday Studio in Brooklyn, NY as well as in a virtual exhibit online.
All of the artists participating in this show were asked what homeland and identity means to them and how their selected pieces connect to this theme. Here’s what they said.
“My work branches from my research on the mythology of Ain Adhari, a desolate natural spring in Bahrain, through the lens of mythology, eco-feminism, and oral histories. I’m fascinated with untangling etymologies of both land and body and, in particular, the crossover between the attitudes towards the earth and the female body. Through photography, I investigate the liminality of the site as an imagined space and the reality of its disappearance.”
Mashael Alsaie is a Bahraini multimedia artist and photographer. Mashael’s practice expresses research-driven interpretation of Bahraini mythologies via text, image, and glass.
Haifa Bint Kadi
“My practice is grounded in the belief that art is a form of de-colonization and resistance against systems grounded in oppression as it heals, affirms and establishes self-identity while evoking a sense of wonder and exploration in the world.”
Haifa Bint-Kadi is a Palestinian-Caribbean American artist and curator working in mosaic whose career spans over 40 years after receiving her M.F.A. from Istituto d’Arte per il mosaico in Ravenna, Italy. Her work has been shown in galleries across the nation and her public art installations can be found throughout New York State.
“The impetus to take photographs and write prose has always come to me as an impulse. As I grew older, these 2 mediums served as vessels of exploration for identity, heritage, culture and ancestry. Much of my family’s rich history is lost in archives and primarily lives on through old photographs or oral storytelling; because of this, I’m besotted with exploring the region by using its landscape to tell my own stories. By capturing photos of the day-to-day, quotidian sights like a building or car, I hope to show my homelands in an almost contradictory manner to what the West believes the SWANA region is, represents and looks like.”
Dahlia Dandashi is a Lebanese/Syrian photographer & writer born in Houston, Texas and raised in Dubai, UAE. Through the lens of her photography and poetry, Dahlia explores the complexities of Arab-American identity through themes of culture, religion, womanhood, loss and love.
“My work has always been very centered around Beirut, using illustration and storytelling through comics to try to depict the contradictions and atmospheres of this city, or at least my version of it. Through my first graphic novel, Beirut Bloody Beirut, I used the story of two women lost in the city at night as a way to dive into the different neighborhoods and explore the fantastic graphic and narrative potential of this place. Ever since I came to the U.S. in 2019, I’ve still kept a strong connection with my home, by staying active with projects there, but I’ve also tried to draw parallels with Lebanon and the U.S.A. My zine ‘Grmlkrz” is a collection of short comics and anecdotes about being a recent immigrant, reflecting on American life and society.
I try to use this new distance with my home to reflect on the imagery that Lebanon has, away from the reality. With my series ‘Resembling Resilience’, I use woven blankets from the future to play with the stereotypes and the news narratives about Beirut.”
Tracy Chahwan is a Lebanese comics artist and illustrator. She started her career in Beirut in 2016, drawing posters and artworks for the local music scene. In 2018, she published her first graphic novel and, parallel to that, she joined the Samandal comics collective and co-founded Zeez, its little experimental sister. After the Lebanese revolution in October 2019, she turned to journalistic comics. Tracy’s work is marked by the radical and collaborative energy of the artistic scene in Beirut, where she worked actively the past years before she moved to the U.S. in 2019.
We hope you join us for the show from April 7-9 in Brooklyn, NY!
Friday April 7 – Banat El Hara: Opening Reception
Saturday April 8 – Day 2 at Banat El Hara
Sunday, April 9 – Closing night of Banat El Hara + short film program
Not local? Explore the incredible work of this artists in our gallery online. To learn more about the other participating artists and the Banat El Hara show + all the programs and events of Arab Women in the Arts, please visit arabfilm.us/women.