Exhibition Opens: Saturday, August 7, 2021
5pm - 6pm: Artist Talk with Alia Ali and Alison Young
6pm - 9pm: Opening Reception during White Linen Night
Alia Ali ( عاليه علي ) is a Yemeni-Bosnian-US multi-media artist. A child of migrant linguists, Ali has traveled to sixty-seven countries, lived in and between seven, and grown up among five languages. Her migrations have led her to process the world through interactive experiences and the belief that the damage of translation and interpretation of written language has dis-served particular communities, resulting in the threat of their exclusion, rather than a means of understanding. As an artist who exists on the borders of identifying as West Asian, Eastern European, a United States citizen, queer, culturally Muslim yet spiritually independent, her work explores cultural binaries, challenges culturally sanctioned oppression, and confronts conflicted notions of gender, politics, media, and citizenship. Working between photography, video, and installation, Ali’s work addresses the politicization of the body, histories of colonization, imperialism, sexism, and racism through projects that take pattern and textile as their primary motif. Textile, in particular, has been a constant in Ali’s practice. Her strong belief that textile is significant to all of us, reminds us that we are born into it, we sleep in it, we eat on it, we define ourselves by it, we shield ourselves with it, and eventually, we die in it. While it unites us, it also divides us physically and symbolically. Her work broadens into immersive installations utilizing light, pattern, and textile to move past language and offer an expansive, experiential understanding of self, culture, and nation.
Allison K. Young, Ph.D. is an art historian, writer, and curator currently based in New Orleans. The following text is taken from her essay Shades of Blue, written in response to works in Alia Ali’s Patterned Paradigms exhibition.
The compositional format for INDIGO remains consistent with prior series: textile-wrapped figures, whose faces, heads, and torsos are fully concealed by cloth, are photographed against fabric backdrops of identical or complementary patterns. Referred to by the artist as ‘-cludes,’ these figures symbolize the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, border politics, and histories of migration. Yet, while series such as FLUX and BORDERLANDS depict complex, multi-colored batiks, weaves, and ikats from Yemen, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, India, Mexico, Indonesia, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam, the fabrics in INDIGO are hard-edged and geometric, featuring blue-and-white patterns of stripes, dots, and chevrons. Their high contrasts and all-over repetition generate a discordant effect, creating the illusion of constant, disorienting vibration.
As Ali’s work reminds us, the language we use—the words we spin and our means of articulating our vision for the world—goes far towards manifesting and effecting that reality. This is affirmed in one of the newest series for Patterned Paradigms, which centers on the repetition of a word worth translating over and
over: حـــــب, love” (Alison K. Young).
Alia Ali’s work has been featured in the Financial Times, Le Monde, Vogue Arabia, Art Review, and Hyperallergic. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in collections including Princeton University, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and numerous international private collections. She lives and works in Los Angeles and Marrakech.
References: Young, A. K. (2021). Shades of Blue. New Orleans.