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Meet the Two Female Arab Photographers Shining Bright at Art Basel Miami Beach


Alia Ali. Photo: Sueraya Shaheen for Vogue Arabia

This year, Yemeni/Bosnian artist Alia Ali made it right to the top of The Artsy Vanguard, an annual list that “recognizes the most promising artists working today, and features emerging artists who are propelling contemporary art forward through their urgent, moving, original work”.


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“I think it’s an exciting time,” she said during her showcase, “In which we can no longer consider a singular future that is meant to encapsulate all, but rather accept multiple radically imagined futures that exist all at once. Creatives have always been trying to carve out our own futures, but now is a remarkable time in which we see these futures becoming more and more visible. These futures are manifesting in spaces (literal and figurative) as interventions where artists are insisting and persisting to present spaces in which others, like us, can reflect themselves… ourselves. By actively intervening in white cube spaces and long existing museum structures—our spaces of existence are emerging radically and exponentially. I think this is not only powerful, but also brave—both as the creatives, who are putting in the work to make them, and the individuals and institutions who are willing to take the risks to support us.”


Alia Ali, Helix Ditphych Artsy Vanguard Award, 2021 courtesy 193 Gallery

Exhibiting with the 193 Gallery based in Paris, Ali took over the entire booth space with a colorful (certainly an understatement) installation at SCOPE the art fair, now in its 20th year, that always takes place at South Beach. “Whether it’s by artists, musicians, curators and writers, whether it’s by creatives of color, non-binary, migrants and of the diaspora. It’s a time in which we are entering the artistic paradigm, not from a position of defending our narratives but rather shifting the departure point of dialogues we want to have from where we set the point—not where it has been set for us. Narratives we are drawing from our own foundations, rather than by the foundations laid out for us by others.”


Scope, International Contemporary Art Show, South Beach, Miami. Photo: Sueraya Shaheen

“For those receiving the work, the viewers and the audiences, pay close attention because voices are emerging. They always have been, but now pay even closer attention. Do the work by engaging—and that means hearing, not listening; seeing, not watching; and most importantly, dare to unlearn what you think you know.”

Meanwhile, over at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Emirati New York-based artist Farah Al Qasimi exhibited with a complete takeover of the Helena Anrather gallery booth for Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB), with her photographs (all brand new work) covering every inch of the walls.


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Displayed alongside the installation was her recent 300 page publication titled “Hello Future”, which was shortlisted for the Aperture Foundation and Paris Photo Book of the Year Award. The monograph, published by Capricious, features a conversation with Moroccan artist, Meriem Bennani ( of “2 Lizards” pandemic videos fame, recently aquired by the MOMA and the Whitney Museum ) and an essay by Negar Azimi.


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