Art and the Pandemic will explore how a global crisis is transforming the visual arts sector in the Middle East and reflect on the impact of those changes on artists, art institutions and art markets in the MENA region.
The conversation will build on the themes that emerged out of the MEI Art Gallery’s current exhibit “Art in Isolation: Creativity in the Time of Covid-19.” Featuring the work of 39 established, mid-career and emerging artists from the MENA region and its diaspora, MEI’s first ever open-call sale show investigates the emotional and physical impact of confinement on artistic practice.
Art in Isolation can be viewed in person by appointment or online until January 29, 2021.
Director, Atassi Foundation for Art and Culture, Dubai, UAE
Shireen Atassi obtained her MBA from Imperial College Business School in London in 1998. For the next 18 years she held different corporate roles in Ernst & Young, Mars Inc and Citibank.
In 2015, Atassi decided to take a turn in her career, and in 2016 she, along with her family, established the Atassi Foundation for Arts and Culture - a family non-profit initiative that is dedicated to creating knowledge around modern and contemporary Syrian art and supporting the creative expressions of today’s generations. She serves as the director of the Foundation overlooking strategic planning and everyday operations.
Mahmoud El Hajj
Gaza-based participating artist
Mahmoud Al Haj is a Palestinian visual artist and arts teacher. Al Haj received a BA in Journalism and Media from Al-Aqsa University (2012) and has been a visual arts teacher at the Palestine Red Crescent Society since 2017. In 2019, he collaborated with artist Suzanne Groothuis on a land art workshop titled “Intimate Terrains” for the Palestine Museum. He has exhibited widely in Palestine and Europe, including recent participation in Within the Vacuum at Shababek for Contemporary Art, Palestine (2019), Contemplative Contrasts at the A.M. Qattan Foundation, Palestine (2019) and Orient 2.0 at Pulchri Studio Den Hague, Netherlands (2017).
Laila Abdul-Hadi Jadallah
Exhibition producer, curator and researcher
Laila Abdul-Hadi Jadallah (she/her/hers) is an exhibition producer, curator and researcher working in Washington, D.C.
Jadallah received a B.A. in Integrative Studies/Arts & Culture (Art as Social Action) from the School of Integrative Studies at George Mason University, holds a Certificate in Photography from SPEOS Photographic Institute Paris, and a Certificate in Business Fundamentals from Harvard Business School Online [HBX]. She is currently an M.A. candidate in Arab Studies at where she is interested in cultural diplomacy and researching identity politics, futurism, exile and power through art and cultural production from the Middle-East. She is also part of the inaugural cohort at the Lab for Global Performance and Politics’ Student Fellows program at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where she will be workshopping an interdisciplinary and participatory project exploring the concept of “home” in light of global displacement and housing insecurity.
Since 2018, Laila has been the Managing Director of Washington Studio School, a nonprofit arts organization in Washington, D.C., where she is responsible for fundraising, communications, operations, and strategies, including partnerships and community outreach in collaboration with the Artistic Director. She recently served on the Executive Committee of the Washington, D.C.-region chapter of ArtTable, Inc. and co-chaired State of Art5/DC: A Conversation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in October 2019.
DC-based participating artist
Sepideh Salehi is a multidisciplinary artist born in Tehran. She left Iran to attend Accademia di belle Arti in Florence Italy where she received her MFA in Visual Art and Multimedia. She works in various media and utilizes different processes ranging from painting and drawing to printmaking, video art, and painting in motion. By incorporating aspects of storytelling and letter writing, Salehi recollects the experiences she had growing up in post-1979 Tehran. She weaves personal narrative and cultural history into her work, reflecting on the ways in which she, and other women, navigated the shifting social and political landscapes. Some of the venues for her shows include: an exhibition of Iranian women artists titled A Bridge Between You and Everything, curated by Shirin Neshat at High Line Nine, NYC; Photo London, Somerset House London, curated by Roya Khadjavi Projects; Mirrored Re-Collection at the University of Maryland Stamp Gallery; REVEAL at The Space by Advocartsy LA; Patterning curated by Samantha Friedman at Kentler International Drawing Space, Brooklyn, NY; STRAPPA, Rogue Space Chelsea NY, Craft and Folk Art Museum LA, Tribeca Video Art NY, Centre for Contemporary Art Luigi Pecci, Virgiliano Museum and International Bologna Art Fair, Italy. She currently lives and works between Washington DC and New York.
Lyne Sneige, moderator
Director, Arts and Culture Center, MEI
Lyne Sneige is currently the director of the Arts & Culture Program at the Middle East Institute (MEI) in Washington, D.C. She has over 15 years of experience in international development in the Middle East. Before joining MEI, Sneige was deputy director Lebanon and regional projects manager for Arts and Culture for the Middle East at the British Council operating out of Beirut. She has extensive experience in strategy and planning as well as project management, and has many years of experience in the arts and culture scene in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East. Sneige spearheaded several initiatives such as the Creative Economy and Cultural Leadership agendas in the region, and is a strong advocate of the important role that artists play in their societies, and a main contributor to changing perceptions of the cultural sector in the Middle East as an important conduit to social and economic change. Sneige is a Salzburg Global Seminar fellow, a nominator to the Art Jameel Prize, an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition organized in collaboration with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, a nominator to the newly established Agha Khan Music Awards and an advisor to the educational and outreach program of the Beirut Museum of Art (BeMA) that is set to open in 2023. She sits on the general assembly of Action for Hope a Beirut based NGO that provides cultural relief and cultural development programs to meet the social, cultural and psychological needs of distressed and displaced communities.
Fragile Series, Photo courtesy of Mahmoud Al Hajj