Alia Farid (b. 1985) lives and works in Kuwait and Puerto Rico, countries she is both from and whose complex colonial histories she reveals through drawings, objects, spatial installations and film. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from la Escuela de Arts Plasticas de Puerto Rico (San Juan), a Master of Science in Visual Studies from the Visual Arts Program at MIT (Cambridge, MA), and a Master of Arts in Museum Studies and Critical Theory from the Programa d’Estudis Independents at MACBA (Barcelona).
I began making work between art, architecture, and urban anthropology. Today I’m still interested in these areas, but with a more focused point on telling how informal networks are forced to make up for lack of formal structure as one of the things I value most is the subversive quality of work that goes unnoticed… often self-initiated work.
One of Farid’s most ambitious projects to date has been curating Acquiring Modernity, Kuwait’s participation at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. During this time she led a collective investigation that analyzed the arrival of modernity in Kuwait and concurrent effects on cultural productivity during this accelerated period of urban transformation propelled by the discovery of oil. Exceeding the limits and duration of the pavilion, she set up a yearlong “temporary school” that drew people in from different disciplines to discuss correlations between perception and the shaping of environments.
For her first solo exhibition in Paris, Farid interprets a selection of documentation images found in the storage basement of the never-completed Kuwait National Museum. The disparate images, a mixture of ancient and recent artifacts, demonstrate a society’s struggle to articulate it’s own history: pearl sieves, the severed head of a clay figurine, wooden sandals, broken glass, potsherds, garments, a camel head trapping, the capital of a column and walls from a nearby excavated fort are among the items documented. In some of the images, neither site nor object is apparent. In others, a black and white rod set alongside unearthed matter provides viewers with a sense of scale. Not far from the images, piles of plastic bags filled with fragments from previous civilizations lie in wait, unearthed and yet unexposed. Stranded between archaeological site and museum, like spirits caught between worlds, the images and objects residing in the basement of the Kuwait National Museum are less a record of the Nation’s aspirations than evidence of its unreconciled values. What is the meaning of display in an aniconic society? Seemingly disjointed, the objects in this exhibition assemble a precarious universe that oscillates between record and invention, self-portrait and state narrative.
Between Dig + Display
Theatre of Operations
A Stage for Any Revolution
Acquiring Modernity (the 2014 Pavilion
of Kuwait at the Biennale di Venezia)
Water Tower / Drinking Fountain
Mezquitas de Puerto Rico
Mezquita Santo Domingo
How to get to Share3 il 7ub
Farid has completed residencies at Beta-Local (San Juan), Casa Árabe in conjunction with Delfina Foundation (Córdoba, Spain), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (Doha), Davidoff Art Initiative (La Romana), The Serpentine Galleries (London), La Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris), and marra,tein (Beirut). Recent and upcoming shows include participation in the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, the 20th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil, the 12th Gwangju Biennale, and Sharjah Biennial 14. Recent and upcoming shows of her work have been presented at NC-arte (Bogotá), Galerie Imane Farès (Paris) and Sultan Gallery (Kuwait). She is also a recipient of the 2018 Art Jameel Commission (Dubai) and Arab Fund for Culture and Arts (AFAC) Visual Arts Production Grant.