“Ybna Al3eid” is a Gulf Arabic phrase roughly meaning taking the cake, or rather, bringing it in the first place. Translated literally as “we brought [the] Eid,” it is when actions turn into a foolish spectacle, humiliation, and/or dire consequences, i.e. partaking in activities uncustomary to Gulf cultures, hiding realities, or twisting familial mythologies It is a phrase indulging in the forbidden fruits of mischief and scandal–a humor-infused phrase, yet harboring a sinister undertone. Named after this colloquial term, this exhibition pokes fun at these ideas, engaging them critically and satirically.
Most realities of youth sub-counter-culture in the Gulf, although well-known within local communities, once broadcasted, become swiftly publicly hidden and censored, leaving residents to adopt a don't ask, don't tell (but please do) policy. Reputation-paranoia infests these communities, both inwardly facing to locals, and outwardly to the world.
While physical presentations of this counter-culture are lacking, the youth have predominantly turned towards virtual safe-ish spaces that they have self-cultivated, e.g. 'Arab Twitter'. This exhibition expresses a frustration with the inability to develop lived experiences detached from the patriarchal, family-oriented and culturally-valued dependence on reputation and image, and a desire for an imagined space, defined by youth, that is not so imagined after-all. It is a collective secret ready to be shared.
“Ybna Al3eid” considers the works of fourteen socio-politically-creative artists that explore themes of Arabian decolonization, bodily deviation, child-like liberation, and anthropological investigations. These works are the complete psychosis of trying, and failing, to construct an image of supposed youthfulness. It is rebellion not for action, but for existence.
This exhibition is curated by Talal Al Najjar and Salem AlSuwaidi, based at Bayt AlMamzar, Dubai, from September 2nd to October 16th, 2022, and incubated by the Dirwaza Microfund for Creative Access.