20 Artists from the Middle East and North Africa in Vienna
Come Invest in Us. You’ll Strike Gold refers to the words spoken by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after being elected for the first time in 1999. As much as this was an economic promise addressed to his country, it was also a seductive wink to foreign investors. Since then, entrepreneurs have indeed honored his invitation with the heavy support of various international governments.
Based on artist Djamel Kokene‘s eponymous work, Come Invest in Us. You’ll Strike Gold scrutinizes the scope of Western, as well as Arab, economic and financial interests at stake in the MENA region, interests that the recent popular uprisings and concurrent international political gamesmanship and strategic maneuvering have only made more blatant.
The project offers diverse perspectives on how artists fom the MENA region and its diaspora reflect on the contexts, consequences and aftermaths of the various investments, transactions and contracts that have been made with and within the region. By exploring such multifaceted issues as the wealth of the territory as a whole, oil and gas drilling, militarization and the armaments industry, the flow of people and goods, real estate, building and civil engineering works, and brands and luxury goods, the works shown in the exhibition shed light on the true motivations behind the many questionable business dealings – invariably money, control and power – and, in extension, on how this is affecting the social, political and cultural environment of the entire region, as well as its inhabitants. Ultimately, the exhibition also reveals how these financial and economic dealings are impacting aesthetics and forms in the Arab World and Iran.
Curated by Diana Wiegersma.