Referencing the proverbial elephant with a twist, Raed Ibrahim’s A Camel in the Room makes us reflect on major issues that are not discussed or acknowledged. Set in three rooms, Ibrahim’s work aims to provoke the viewer by using irony, thereby shedding light and generating debate on taboo subjects.
The eponymous camel is the unavoidable element confronting the viewer upon entering the Blue House. Derived from an early 19th century Russian fable, made proverbial by Dostoevsky in his novel Demons, the ‘elephant in the room’ has been transformed by Ibrahim into a grand scaled-up version of the pink plush toy camels found in souvenir shops downtown, reminding us to directly confront the pressing issues of our here and now.
In the Main Building, an installation in four monumental parts highlights the deep influence of the events of 9/11 on our time, provoking a seismic shift and toxic polarisation of contemporary politics in the so-called ‘Age of Terror’. Through subtle interventions on the symbolic representations of the towers, the artist confronts the question ‘whose terror?’.
In the Ghorfa, The State of Ishmael: Jus sanguinis (2009-ongoing) concretises an imagined state and its historical past through invented artefacts, fabricated archaeological finds, and made-up symbols of statehood. An ongoing work, applications for citizenship are increasing. The elaborate installation asks the viewer to critically examine the tools used to construct history, and the complications arising as a result.