No to the Invasion: Breakdowns and Side Effects to be presented by CCS Bard, in collaboration with the Barjeel Art Foundation

May 16, 2017

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY March, 2017 – This summer, the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard) in collaboration with the Barjeel Art Foundation will present No to the Invasion: Breakdowns and Side Effects, an exhibition held at the CCS Bard Galleries from 24 June to 29 October 2017. The exhibition showcases work drawn from the Barjeel Art Foundation Collection, dating from 1990 to 2016, and referencing significant histories and conflicts across the Arabic-speaking world.

No to the Invasion: Breakdowns and Side Effects explores the ways in which art extends across and operates within volatile social structures, political regimes, and economic systems. Featuring works dating from 1990 to 2016, the exhibition invokes socio-political and economic histories that intersect a shared geo-political space: the Arabic-speaking world—a geographic region that includes the twenty-two countries of the Arab League and whose contemporary coordinates lay between Mauritania, North Africa, and West Asia.

The title of the show is borrowed from a 1990 linocut print of the same name produced by the Kuwaiti artist Thuraya Al-Baqsami three days after the start of the Iraq-Kuwait war. In the print, intended to be a resistance poster against the invasion, the phrase ‘no to the invasion’ appears in Arabic below two figures pictured lamenting the aggression.

Beginning in 1990, the exhibition recalls a conflicted socio-political landscape inflamed by the shifting regimes of power following the fall of Pan-Arabism, the end of the Cold War, the start of the Kuwait War, and the end of the Lebanese Civil War. Today, while battles in Syria and Iraq continue to rage and people are increasingly displaced, radicalism and neoliberal capitalism thrive. Drawing upon these events – current and historical – the exhibition follows the course of artistic practices and socio-political narratives from 1990 to today to examine where art and politics meet. Likewise, the exhibition proposes an expanded meaning of the term invasion – one that goes beyond connotations of incursion, trespassing, and violation to conjure a sudden surge or confrontation. These works investigate and refuse irruptions on one’s space or body by the media, global capital, or regional magnates.

In Ala Younis’s Plan for Greater Baghdad (2015), archival research materials and an imagined urban plan straddle turbulent political timelines in Iraq and reflect the ways in which power is exerted through gestures and the histories of architecture and its protagonists. In Akram Zaatari’s Her + Him (2001–11), documentation of a personal encounter offers a critical examination of a legacy of mid-twentieth-century Cairene portraiture that includes the work of the Armenian-Egyptian photographer Van Leo. These projects—which range from research-based and experimental documentary to engagements with abstraction and conceptualism—tell us something about the limits of representation, the production of histories, and the transformation of landscapes. The presented works parse the many intersecting influences of power that act on bodies and land alike. They reveal the effects and absurdities of hyper-modernization and address issues of representation, surveillance, migration, and disaster.

Alongside the main exhibition will be the project No to the Invasion: From the Archive, organized in collaboration with scholar Tarek El-Ariss and displayed in the CCS Bard Collection Teaching Gallery. Taking the form of a constellation of documents collected by El-Ariss, including audiotapes, magazines, novels, and television footage, From the Archive considers the ways in which the body is always a site of sedimentation and collapse, registering experience and telling stories that require deciphering and translation. A new iteration of the ongoing project The Revolution is a Mirror, Excavating the Sky and Current Power in Syria by the collective Sigil will also be on view.

For media enquiries including interview requests and full list of works, please contact:
Megan McCann
+44 (0) 207 183 3577

Mark Primoff


+1 845 758 7412


Notes to Editors

Exhibition curated by Fawz Kabra
Archive room co-curated by Tarek El-Ariss and Fawz Kabra
Publication edited by Fawz Kabra

About the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard)
The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College (CCS Bard) was founded in 1990 as an exhibition and research center for the study of late twentieth-century and contemporary art and culture and to explore experimental approaches to the presentation of these topics and their impact on our world. Since 1994, the Center for Curatorial Studies and its graduate program have provided one of the world’s most forward thinking teaching and learning environments for the research and practice of contemporary art and curatorship. Broadly interdisciplinary, CCS Bard encourages students, faculty and researchers to question the critical and political dimension of art, its mediation and its social significance.

CCS Bard cultivates innovative thinking, radical research and new ways to challenge our understanding of the social and civic values of the visual arts. CCS Bard provides an intensive educational program alongside its public events, exhibitions, and publications, which collectively explore the critical potential of the institutions and practices of exhibition-making. It is uniquely positioned within the larger Center’s tripartite resources, which include the internationally renowned CCS Bard Library and Archives and the Hessel Museum of Art, with its rich permanent collection.

Barjeel Art Foundation
Barjeel Art Foundation is an independent, UAE-based initiative established to manage, preserve and exhibit an extensive collection of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. The foundation’s guiding principle is to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region by building a prominent, publicly accessible art collection in the UAE. Part of this objective involves developing a public platform to foster critical dialogue around contemporary art practices with a focus on artists with Arab heritage internationally. The foundation strives to create an open-ended enquiry that responds to and conveys the nuances inherent to Arab histories beyond borders of culture and geography.

By hosting in-house exhibitions, lending artwork to international forums, producing print and online publications, and fashioning interactive public programmes, the foundation strives to serve as an informative resource for contemporary art by Arab artists both locally and on the global stage.

In addition to building an informative database of artists, the foundation is seeking to develop an educational programme that both understands and involves the local community. By establishing partnerships with arts and cultural institutions internationally, the foundation looks to create opportunities to encourage public awareness of the importance of art to the community.