Thirty years ago we launched an initiative in support of contemporary artists from Jordan and the Arab world, that laid the foundation for what would become Darat al Funun, our ‘home for the arts’. We became a meeting place for artists, a hub for artistic practices, experimentation, and critical discourse, and an oasis for researchers and fellows, in the midst of the turmoil surrounding us. Artists, performers, architects, designers, archaeologists, researchers, poets, writers, musicians, and filmmakers believed in our vision.
Today, Darat al Funun is housed in six renovated historical buildings dating from the 1920s, with restored archaeological remains in the garden of a Byzantine church built over a Roman temple. In addition to programming exhibitions, artist talks, film screenings, performances, poetry readings and concerts, we launched the Darat al Funun Summer Academy in 1999, ran multi-disciplinary workshops, initiated an exchange residency program, opened The Lab for experimental art projects, established a Ph.D. fellowship for academic studies on Arab art, and more.
Starting around the millennium, the world as we knew it imploded. Wars brought political and socio-cultural upheavals, population transfers, identity crises, and environmental disasters. Lost causes still await resolution. The internet age and social media accelerated globalization.
For our 30th anniversary, we invited artists of all disciplines to pause and reflect, to re-imagine our world, and to reinvent their narrative, inspired by Mahmoud Darwish's poem ‘To A Young Poet’:
Truth is black, write over it
with a mirage’s light.
Over one hundred artists answered our call. In three phased exhibitions planned for 2018, we feature established artists side by side with emerging artists, together forming a constellation of new narratives and interrogations.
This year, we celebrate all those who accompanied us on our journey over the past three decades. They are the cornerstone of our foundation. We especially celebrate the new generation of artists, who are engaged witnesses of the present and an inspiration for the future.
Our inaugural exhibition includes established artists such as Akram Zaatari, who represented Lebanon in the 55th Venice Biennale, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, winners of the 2017 Marcel Duchamp award, Hassan Khan, winner of the 57th Venice Biennale Silver Lion award and Rabih Mroué, recipient of the 2011 Prince Claus award.
Participating artists in this first exhibition are: Akram Zaatari (Lebanon), Amal Kenawy (Egypt), Ayham Alsammak (Jordan), Dana Kaoukji (Jordan), Dana Rousan (Jordan), Dina Mufti (Jordan), Firas Shehadeh (Jordan), Hassan Khan (Egypt), Haya Abdul Hameed (Jordan), Himat Ali (Iraq), Hosam Omran (Jordan), Ibn Talib (Jordan), Isidro López-Aparicio (Spain), Jehad Al Ameri (Jordan), Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (Lebanon), Marwan Rechmaoui (Lebanon), Mohamad Badarne (Palestine), Mohammed Zakaria (Jordan), Munjed Qasim (Jordan), Oraib Toukan (Jordan), Rabih Mroué (Lebanon), Rana ElNemr (Egypt), Sahel Al Hiyari (Jordan), Tala Abdulhadi (Jordan), Wasim Zaid Habashneh (Jordan), Yasmeen Sabri (Jordan), and Yasmine Alnabulsi (Jordan).
The exhibitions will be accompanied by a full program of artist talks and performances, films from our archive selected by artists, a cultural production seminar and an archival exhibition curated by the Darat al Funun fellows, curators in conversation, workshops, performances, and more.
Tuesday 3 July - 4 October 2018
Tuesday 23 October 2018 - 24 January 2019