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On Contemporary Arab Representations

Within the vitrines of the continuously evolving exhibition Untitled, sited at the institution’s ground-floor gallery, is an archival display focusing on Contemporary Arab Representations. This long-term project was developed in 2002-2003 by Catherine David, Witte de With’s director at the time. Contemporary Arab Representations included various “representations by authors,” and was organized in three chapters: Beirut, Cairo, and Iraq. The project was ahead of its time on various counts. It offered and debated locally-specific cultural perspectives, over falsely-unifying overviews of a region. David’s use of “Arab” over “Middle Eastern” is a case in point. At the time, the press reviewed this long-term project widely, noting that the featured authors—how David referred to visual artists and cultural makers at large—were largely unknown to general audiences within and outside of their context.

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