Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Winning Artist, Abraaj Group Art Prize 2011
Flying Carpets, Chrome-plated aluminum, thread, dimensions variable
From the legendary stories of King Solomon to One Thousand and One Nights and Hollywood’s Thief of Baghdad (1924), The image of the flying carpet has entered popular imagination as one of most universally recognised symbols of the ‘orient,’ additionally suggesting a boundless and unrestricted mode of travel and freedom.
The practical use of carpets by hawkers who sell counterfeit goods on the streets of Venice sits in stark contrast to this freedom, as the mobility of such street sellers is greatly restricted. Of mainly African, Arab or South Asian descent, the peddlars use their carpets to bundle together goods in order to flee detection from the authorities.
The artist’s installation gives this socio-political predicament expression. In her work, geometric metal forms, derived from stencil outlines of the hawker’s carpets, are suspended by cascades of hanging thread. Taking the form of a bridge, Il Ponte del Sepolcro found in Venice, the work hovers in space like a floating cage. With beauty and fragility, Kaabi-Linke underlines what is in effect a day to day sense of confinement experienced by the hawkers as they clandestinely ‘move’ from place to place.
Nadia Kaabi-Linke studied at the University of Fine Arts in Tunis (1999) before receiving a PhD from the Sorbonne University in Paris (2008). Her installations, objects and pictorial works are embedded in urban contexts, intertwined with memory and geographically and politically constructed identities. She held her first major solo show, Tatort at Galerie Christian Hosp, Berlin in 2010.
She has participated in several international group exhibitions that include ‘Drawn from Life’, Green Cardamom (2009 – 10) and Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendall, UK (2011); ‘Split’, Darb 1718 Contemporary, Cairo (2010); ‘Aftermath’, 25th Alexandria Biennale (2009); 9th Sharjah Biennial (2009); ‘Art Connexions: Arab Contemporary Artists’ (2008) and ‘Archives des banalities tunisoises’ (2009) both held at Galerie El Marsa, Tunis, the second was a solo show.
In 2009 she was awarded the Jury Prize by the Alexandria Biennale. Kaabi-Linke is represented by Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai and Experimenter, Kolkata.