Cultural Initiatives in North Africa and the Middle East
Through the B7L9 residency programme, Zainab Hasoon has brought together Tunisian artists Achref Bettaieb, Becem Sdiri, Ghad Lemjid, Jack Montaly, Jawher Ouni, Souheila Ghorbel, Mo Mezghani (a.k.a. <intrinsic>), and Yassir Jeridi, whose works include painting, video, sound, music, installation, and photography.
‘Cells are the building blocks that compose a body. Each has its own shape and purpose, each growing together to maintain the whole. This image of an organic body composed of individual, dynamic parts that grow together is akin to the process in which this exhibition – Khaliya, Arabic for “cell” – has developed.’
This metaphor brings to light an aspect of the artistic community as a social body that values anonymity, experimentation, cross-pollination of ideas, friendship, and unexpected and improvised cooperation as a way of thinking and being.
The residency experience brought together visual artists and music producers to develop the exhibition and its parallel programme. Visiting MCs and producers, Lil Asaf, BA, and oldyungmayn came together to develop sound and music through a makeshift studio environment that was integral to the space itself, and the thinking process behind the exhibition.
The studio in which they worked is being developed in close collaboration with Tunisia-based artists and collectives such as B-Saad, and facilitated an organic flow of work in a way that mirrors the overall theme of the exhibition – as building blocks in a collectively energised space in the Tunisian art scene.
Zainab Hasoon: Zainab’s multifaceted work expresses itself in many interlinked ways – through design, photography, and producing around music, art, and culture. Zainab is one-third of the team behind the lifestyle label Shabab, whose work has appeared on numerous platforms. Zainab’s approach to design and craft can be found in her fine jewellery label Kenz Studios. She recently produced the visuals for Amman-based rapper Lil Asaf’s single ‘3eed’. She works between Dubai and elsewhere, and is currently in Tunis as part of the B7L9 residency programme.
Souheila Ghorbel (b.1992): Souheila Ghorbel is a photographer who lives and works in Tunis, Tunisia. Her interest in photography grew during several trips in the Tunisian desert. She started photographing her friends using disposable cameras. Her eyes then drifted to other subjects, and fed on the poetry of her surroundings.
Ghad Almejid (b.1997, they/them): Ghad is a Tunis based visual artist, whose practice encompasses painting, sculpture, and installation to explore issues of social alienation, boundaries, transience, and queer subjectivity. Ghad’s autodidactic practice draws from a number of skills and ways of seeing that are drawn from a performed experience in academic life, which began in architecture and led to graduating in graphic design. As a non-binary person living in an exceptionally dichotomic society, Ghad’s work is motivated by an existential need for self-expression, and a deeply felt awareness of the importance of representation.
Bashar Suleiman, aka Lil Asaf (b.1996): A music producer, DJ, and MC based in Amman, Jordan, and has been making music since 2013. He is one half of the group INSIN, and one-third of HIKMA. You can expect, brewing, shoulder-dislocating bass drops and heart-wrenching melodies. Bashar's sonic modus operandi completely rejects any standard production techniques and instead ventures into a raw musical state that is simultaneously caressing and obliterating.
Majd Al Nammari, aka Khotta BA (b.1991): A Palestinian MC/Producer based in Amman, Jordan, where he started writing and performing in 2008. In 2012, he released his first EP “Al Tatweer Al Hadari” with Damar, tackling mostly the socioeconomic struggles of the people of the region due to occupation, urbanisation and authoritarianism. BA is currently working on multiple solo and collaborative projects.
Becem Sdiri (b.1996): Lives and works in Tunis. As a visual artist, he is interested in places and people, people in places, and how they interact with one another. His process oscillates between analogue methods like drawing, cut out, collage and digital methods like scanning, vector illustrations and video synth.
Mahmoud Sakka, aka Jack Montaly (b.1998): Mahmoud Sakka is a visual artist and designer who lives and works in Tunis. Mahmoud graduated from EAD in Tunis in 2020. His work has a number of dimensions, produced under a number of identities, and spans painting, calligraffiti and academic calligraphic arts, and graphic design (with Mogli Studio), and is based on brut characters and abstraction of organic movements and forms. Vital aspects to his practice are capturing moments on the street, back and forth exchanges between friends in making and sharing visuals, and the fluidity and anonymity in adopting identities through which an approach to making art can develop. He produced a collaborative work with artist Edgar Endress in 2018 in a project called “Passport to the Horizon”. Mahmoud has worked with the artist Mohamed ben Soltane in UV (Utopie visuelle) 2018, and assisted the ST4 project in their solo show in 2019.
Achref Bettaieb (b.1994 in Sousse): Achref is a passionate skater, editor, photographer, movie maker, and video installation artist based in Tunis. Achref is the co-founder of Giraffe Crew, a skateboarding collective, and is a graduate of the School of Art and Decoration (EAD).
Jawher Ouni (b. 1992): Jawher’s photographs are an ode to memory and family. Contemplative and silent, his subjects look at a distance while we can almost hear the background. Pensive, they gaze at the horizon. Jawher plays with unplanned compositions and tricks us into believing that some of the landscapes or objects shot are the subjects of interest of our protagonists. Frozen in time, they are really what is left of all those years of memories and special moments lived and shared. His work has been presented at the Biennale de la Photographie de Mulhouse, published in WePresent, Vice Arabia, and Mille World. Jawher was born and raised in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia and is currently based in France. He graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Metz, France.
Mo Mezghani (b.1998): Tunis based visual artist, Mo Mezghani, aka <Intrinsic>, was entangled in the digital visual realm the moment he made his first contact with it, the result of a longing to find the right medium to express his most innate experiences. As a synesthete and a former musician with a strong rhythmic sense, he came to the liberating realization that through the digital translation of auditory signals into pixels he could transfer a wide spectrum of his imaginative process to the outside world. Mo's visual practice under the pseudonym <Intrinsic> also extends to 2D texture ambient designs, which are in principle immortalisations of momentary perceptions in the form of single frames that incite singular and unique reactions within each viewer.
Yasser Jeridi (b.1991): Yasser Jeridi is a Tunisian visual artist, graduated from the National School of Sciences and Technologies of Design in graphic design. He is the founder of Grimoire fanzine, an international macabre zine, and the founder of the graphic creation studio, MAZE LA BOITE. After working as a scenographer and graphic designer in many local Festivals like CHANTI (2014), EARGASM (2015), FCKEF (2018) AND SAILING STONES (2019), Yasser marked his path with his participations into major national and international festivals and exhibitions such as “Transitions and Displacements'' an international group exhibition by Loosenart, Rome; “Children of Surreal Minds Into Countercultures” exhibition at RIVOLI 59, Paris. His light installation “Cube” was displayed in the INTERFERENCE Festival, Medina Tunis (2018). He has also created live video mappings during festivals such as FCKEF (2018) and the Zaghouane Festival of Mountains Films (2019).