At the Corner of a Dream
The Street Art of Bahia Shehab

27 September 2019 – 5 January 2020

The Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) is working with renowned LebaneseEgyptian artist, activist and academic Bahia Shehab on the inaugural exhibition at the new Aga Khan Centre Gallery, showcasing her latest street art.

When revolution swept through Egypt in 2011, Bahia Shehab began spray-painting the Arabic script for ‘no’ in the streets of Cairo saying no to dictators, no to military rule and no to violence: a thousand times no. Her artwork is concerned with identity and preserving cultural heritage and has been on display internationally. Through investigating Islamic art history she reinterprets contemporary Arab politics, feminist discourse and social issues. Our exhibition highlights her most recent works, which have taken her powerful message of resistance to walls around the world, providing an insightful, powerful and immersive experience into her thought provoking practice.

This exhibition accompanies the book of the same title published by Gingko in association with AKU-ISMC. The book is a compilation of walls painted by Bahia during the post-Egyptian revolution using the poetry of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. The exhibition consists of a series of short films created in five urban spaces where Bahia has painted walls. The films are presented within a circular chamber reminiscent of a disused industrial building – its outer walls marked with graffiti. The cities as depicted in the book are Cairo, New York, Beirut and Marrakesh, as well as the Greek island of Cephalonia. The narrative arc in each film highlights the contrast between freedom and human suffering. They remind us of the preciousness and fragility of life, in particular since something as apparent as freedom is questionable in some parts of the world. The exhibition also includes a collection of personal items, used, found and collected from the cities where walls have been painted. Also included are a series of framed stencils that have played a significant part in Shehab’s practice as well as extracts from Darwish’s poetry, written as markers of words with significance to the artist.

Exhibition Events

Artist Talk

26 September 2019, 6:30-8pm
Atrium Conference Room, Aga Khan Centre

Women Musicians, Resistance and Social Change in Zanzibar

15 October 2019, 6-7:30pm
Atrium Conference Room, Aga Khan Centre

Art and Activism through Poetry

26 November 2019, 6-7:30pm
Atrium Conference Room, Aga Khan Centre

Middle Eastern Women’s (Street) Art in Context

3 December 2019, 6-7:30pm
Atrium Conference Room, Aga Khan Centre