Nadia Kaabi-Linke | "Black is the New White"

19 March - 16 May 2012

"While Arab societies undergo processes of technical, social and cultural modernisation, their traditions are getting stronger and stronger too.  How long can a collective withstand the increasing tensions between the present and the past?" Nadia Kaabi Linke


Lawrie Shabibi is proud to present Black is the New White, a solo exhibition by Nadia Kaabi-Linke which opens as part of Art Dubai Week.  The exhibition will feature six new works from an artist who has rapidly become one of the most exciting names in contemporary Middle Eastern art.


Kaabi-Linke's artistic practice is woven around social, political, cultural and historical concepts, revealing hidden contradictions and coincidences often in subtle and sublime ways.  Working in a multitude of media to express her ideas, Kaabi-Linke is not afraid to merge beauty with violence, refinement with vulgarity, producing art that is evocative and paradoxical. Black is the New White is her first solo exhibition since she was awarded the Abraaj Capital Art Prize in 2011.


In this exhibition, Kaabi-Linke takes as her initial premise the concept of the 'trap' and develops this in many complex layers throughout each of her pieces, observing ways in which society finds itself lured, ensnared or deceived. Taking as her sources of inspiration historic buildings in Tunis, dilapidated walls, desert bugs, traditional attire and shadow and light, Kaabi-Linke builds on this idea to expose the state of ambiguity and inner conflict that the modern Middle East finds itself caught in.


As is typical of her practice, Kaabi-Linke produces works from a variety of media and in this exhibition she brings together a disparate display of objects, sculptures, and wall pieces. Her mastery of contradiction is evident in her choice of medium: one the one hand she produces a work made from delicate handmade glass and on the other hand she manipulates a lobster trap found in the fishing ports of the UAE.


Kaabi-Linke describes her art as a form of investigative practice performing a 'kind of archaeology on contemporary life".  In Black is the New White we see Kaabi-Linke dissecting and challenging relevant issues prevalent across the Middle East today: from the euphoria of the revolution in Tunis, to the traditional dress of Gulf region, from the misplaced creative energies of Arab youth to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - all of which in their own way have led to a form of entrapment.


Black is the New White will be accompanied by a catalogue, which features an essay by independent writer and curator Sara Raza and a conversation between Nadia Kaabi Linke and the fictional Joseph Van Helt.


About Nadia Kaabi-Linke

Kaabi-Linke was born in born in Tunis in 1978 to a Russian mother from Kiev and a Tunisian father. She studied in the Academy of Fine Arts in Tunis, and later in Paris where she received a PhD (summa cum laud) at the Sorbonne University of Paris in 2008.   Her solo exhibitions to date have been "Archives des banalités Tunisoises", Galerie El Marsa, Tunis, 2009 and "Tatort", Gallery Christian Hosp, Berlin, 2010. She has participated in a variety of group exhibitions most notably "Lines of Control", Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, USA, 2012; "El arte contemporáneo en el Magreb", dos orillas, Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Spain, 2011; "Based in Berlin, Kunst-Werke-Berlin", KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany, 2011; "The Future of a Promise" (the first Pan-Arab Pavilion) at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011; the 9th Sharjah Biennale in 2009 and the 25th Alexandria Biennale in 2009. 


In 2011 she was one of the recipients of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize where her work Flying Carpets was exhibited at Art Dubai, 2011.   She is also the recipient of the first prize of the Joint Art and Urban Architecture Competition for rebuilding the square "Platz der Stadt Hof Neukölln" in Berlin, Germany, 2010 and in 2009 was awarded the Prize of the Jury, 25th Alexandria Biennial for Mediterranean Countries, Alexandria, Egypt. 


Her works form part of the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Abraaj Capital, Dubai, the Ministère de la Culture et de la Sauvegarde du Patrimoine, Tunis, and the Kamel Lazaar Foundation.  In  2011 she was the Artist in residence at The Delfina Foundation, London, UK.  Today, she lives and works in both Tunis and Berlin.