Ahmad Hammoud, Passport for the Stateless, 2016

  • Artists:
    William Andersen & Maryam Hosseinnia
    Mohamed Ben Soltane
    Walead Beshty
    Aissa Deebi
    Amir Farhad
    Ahmad Hammoud
    Shuruq Harb
    Khaled Hourani
    Huda Lutfi
    Carol Mather
    Yassin Mohamed
    Karin Sander
    Negar Tahsili

Occupational Hazards

curated by Alexandra Stock

Art transcends borders—until it doesn't. In 2016, Ahmad Hammoud's artwork Passport for the Stateless traveled from an exhibition in Dubai to its origin in Cairo. But before it was allowed back into the country, Egyptian customs officials drew deep lines of red ballpoint pen across the booklet's 32 pages and nearly tore it in half. This happened despite the fact that, while the artwork resembles a passport, it is obviously not a valid travel document.

Occupational Hazards is an exhibition dedicated to artworks that have been lost, damaged or destroyed when shipped throughout the Middle East. While items can become ruined or lost without ill intent, this is also happening as governments become increasingly wary of subversive movements to the point of scrutinizing anything that looks unusual or unfamiliar. And like everything else that crosses borders, the circulation of art can also fall under intense inspection when the works in question are misinterpreted as possessing a definitive message or an inherent influence, especially when art's esoteric qualities elude a standard interpretation of value and meaning.

Presenting a range of works by artists with deep connections to Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Kuwait, Palestine, and Tunisia, as well as other artists with works marked by travels through the Middle East/North Africa region, the project addresses how and why artworks become subject to overzealous vetting systems—whether by deliberate force or through passive negligence—and in some cases, how artists are able to reclaim agency despite these circumstances.

In addition to works damaged or destroyed while going through customs, the exhibition shows examples of works which, though forbidden or mired by bureaucratic hurdles, have made it across borders; works that incorporate incidental or intentional damages as a conceptual underpinning; and works which have been reformatted post-incident to incorporate and accommodate such damages. The project thus illustrates ways that artists are enduring, responding to, and circumventing the consequences of contemporary cross-border travel.

Alexandra Stock is a Swiss/American curator and artist based mainly in Cairo since 2007. She holds a BFA from the Zurich University of the Arts, participated in De Appel's Curatorial Program, and has held curatorial and/or managerial positions at three leading contemporary art institutions in the MENA region. She has co-/curated exhibitions and festivals in Alexandria, Amsterdam, Bahrain, and Cairo and has exhibited or screened her own work in Amsterdam, Belgrade, Brussels, Cairo, Dahab, Kampala, Lomé, Maastricht, Paris, Winterthur, and Zurich. Stock is currently developing a project with support of the FfAI and is pursuing a MA in Diplomacy at SOAS.

Installation Images

Occupational Hazards, installation view.

Aissa Deebi, This is how I saw Gaza, 2017, installation view.

Ahmad Hammoud, Passport for the Stateless, 2016, installation view.

Occupational Hazards, installation view.

Occupational Hazards, installation view.

Occupational Hazards, installation view.

Yassin Mohamed, The Swing, 2018, installation view.

Khaled Hourani, Picasso in Palestine, 2009-11, installation view.

Huda Lutfi, Contextual Adaptations, 2019, installation view.

Karin Sander, Mailed Painting, Cairo - New York, 2019, installation view.

Karin Sander, Mailed Painting 104, Sharjah - München - Berlin - Siegen - Berlin - Madrid - München - Berlin - Hong Kong - Berlin, 2009; Karin Sander, Mailed Painting, Cairo - New York, 2019, installation view.

Amir Farhad, Untitled from the Alfiya and Salfiya Series, 2008; William Andersen & Maryam Hosseinnia,كفن shroud 裹屍布, 2019, installation view.

Occupational Hazards, installation view.

Negar Tahsili, B+, 2008, installation view.

Reference book: Hatim Elmekki, Hatim Elmekki, ou, La tentation de Peche? (Tunis: Ceres Productions, 1980); Mohamed Ben Soltane, Contre l’Oubli (Hommage é El Mekki), 2019, installation view.

Mohamed Ben Soltane, Contre l’Oubli (Hommage é El Mekki), 2019, installation view.

Shuruq Harb, The Keeper, 2019, installation view.

Huda Lutfi, Tahrir Portraits, 2013, installation view; Walead Beshty, FedEx® Medium Kraft Box ©2004 FEDEX 155143 REV 10/04 BP, Standard Overnight, Los Angeles–New York trk#770242668938, June 9–10, 2014, Standard Overnight, New York–North Adams trk#776019136922, April 5–6, 2016, Standard Overnight, North Adams–New York trk#778247726640, January 23–24, 2017, 2014--, installation view, Reference book: Hatim Elmekki, Hatim Elmekki, ou, La tentation de Peche? (Tunis: Ceres Productions, 1980).

Walead Beshty, FedEx® Medium Kraft Box ©2004 FEDEX 155143 REV 10/04 BP, Standard Overnight, Los Angeles–New York trk#770242668938, June 9–10, 2014, Standard Overnight, New York–North Adams trk#776019136922, April 5–6, 2016, Standard Overnight, North Adams–New York trk#778247726640, January 23–24, 2017, 2014--, installation view.

Carol Mather, Mermaid, 1992, installation view.

Huda Lutfi, Tahrir Portraits, 2013, installation view.

Brochure Images

William Andersen & Maryam Hosseinnia, كفن shroud 裹屍布, 2019, Lightweight textile, 98.4 x 29.5 in

Mohamed Ben Soltane, Contre l’Oubli (Hommage é El Mekki), 2019, Framed mosaic tile on wood, 8.5 x 11 in (each piece)

Walead Beshty, FedEx® Medium Kraft Box ©2004 FEDEX 155143 REV 10/04 BP

Aissa Deebi, This is How I Saw Gaza, 2017, Paint on six unstretched canvases, 19.7 x 27.5 in (each)

Ahmad Hammoud, Passport for the Stateless, 2016, Color-printed paper booklet, 4.9 × 3.5 in

Shuruq Harb, Collection, 2013, Digital image, Dimensions variable

Shuruq Harb, The Keeper, 2013, Digital video, 5:45 min (still)

Khaled Hourani, Picasso in Palestine, 2009-11, Digital print, 39.4 x 47.2 in

Huda Lutfi, Carpet of Remembrance, 2003, Installation with shoe forms and mirror, Dimensions variable

Huda Lutfi, Tahrir Portraits, 2013, Installation with acrylic paint and photo collage on wood, 15.7 in diameter (each), Installation dimensions variable

Carol Mather, Mermaid, 1992, Brass and enamel brooch, 8.5 in wide

Karin Sander, Mailed Painting 104, Sharjah - München - Berlin - Siegen - Berlin - Madrid - München - Berlin - Hong Kong - Berlin, 2009, Stretched canvas in standard size, white universal primer, 15.7 x 19.7 x 1.6 in

Negar Tahsili, B+, 2008, Ink, color pencil, and blood on paper, 8.5 x 11 in

Negar Tahsili, B+, 2008, Ink, color pencil, and blood on paper, 8.5 x 11 in

Yassin Mohamed, Self Portrait, 2018, Ball point pen on paper, 8.3 x 11.7 in

Yassin Mohamed, The Swing, 2018, Ink and color pencil on paper, 8.3 x 11.7 in