The Space Between:
Contemporary Perspectives on Tradition and Society


March 3 – April 19, 2013

Too often, the Middle East and its people are cast along extremes. The region’s traditions and culture are stereotyped to fit assumed binaries (modern vs. traditional, religious vs. secular), and its artists are expected to create works that fit within an ahistorical oriental aesthetic.


At Mana Contemporary, the Middle East Center for the Arts (MECA) in collaboration with Leila Heller Gallery will show works by prominent Iranian and Arab artists that explore not the binaries and stereotypes of the Middle East, but rather the space between. Having undergone geographical relocation and exile, these artists inhabit an ambiguous and contested space, situated within a contemporary landscape permeated by cultural and historical legacies.

These works reflect a dialogue between the artists and the political, geographical, traditional and spiritual spaces they frequent. Ayad Alkadhi’s work explores the loss and terror of the horrors that took place in his native Iraq. Leila Pazooki’s work inhabits yet another space — the tight realm set upon non-Western artists as they are incessantly compared to their Western counterparts and held up to a Westernized aesthetic expectation. The exhibit will also feature work by Shoja Azari, Khosrow Hassanzadeh, Hadieh Shafie, Roya Akhavan, Youssef Nabil, and Dena Al-Adeeb. These artists no longer inhabit the white or black of the spectrum, but find themselves dispersed within the grey.


Press Release

Khosrow Hassanzadeh, Untitled I, 2010.
Leila Pazooki, Moment of Glory, 2012.
Ayad Alkadhi, Naturally Inorganic, 2011-2012.