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How has a globalised cultural economy affected the production of contemporary visual culture in North Africa and the Middle East?

Bérénice Saliou
7 May 2013

A few Middle Eastern and North African countries having a strong control over means of expression are now present in some major artistic international events such as the Venice Biennale. The concept of national pavilions provides a vivid example demonstrating how international relations and diplomatic issues can influence artistic productions and their dissemination. While some emerging artists consider biennales as a professional springboard leading towards a possible international recognition, some curators (told or untold) use such events to convey a 'positive' image of their country. In such a case, the main stakeholders of a single event face up to extremely different agendas and the show is the result of a negotiation process encompassing political considerations and forces going far beyond the artistic realm.


This example leads to a series of questions:


Following which criteria do cultural authorities select curators for international artistic events such as biennales?


Following what criteria do appointed curators select artists for national pavilions?


How do political constraints reverberate in the way curators engage with artists and their work?


Within the framework of biennales, how do political, curatorial, artistic and economic agendas articulate?


Who are biennales for?

Bérénice Saliou

is a french independent curator living in Marseilles. She holds an MFA in Curating from Goldsmiths College in London and is Director of the Moroccan organisation Feddan she co-founded with artist Younès Rahmoun for the development of the Trankat project: an artistic residency and exhibitions space located in a traditional house within Tetouan's medina, listed as Unesco world heritage.

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