Things and Needs (Hagaat w' Mehtagaat)
exhibition views at Rita Urso artopiagallery, Milan
February 17, 2022 - April 29, 2022
Photos by Yu Hsin Ko
Hagaat we Mehtagaat, the exhibition’s Arabic title, refers to an Egyptian television program aired since 1993, during Danish’s childhood, and hosted by the artist Sherihan. The exhibition project was initiated during the past two years of the world pandemic crisis. The artist intended to examine the relationship between these two words: “things” and “needs”, a relation also highlighted by their common phonetic roots in the Arabic language.
People all around the world have experienced isolation rules and a feeling of the stall; Danish, like each of us, felt the need to fulfill her everyday life tasks, while keeping pace and minimizing time loss. Hence, her displayed works include machine-stitched pieces, embossed velvets, and paints with gouache colors. These artisanal techniques re-enhance the importance of manual activities within the home-working setting, a new domestic dimension now concerning both men and women. Craft-create turns into a time-tracking tool, highlighting the flow of time and thus evolving into something concrete. One of the salient features of Danish’s artistic practice is the experimentation with various media, which, intertwined with other recurring themes of her research, are reinterpreted in light of the pandemic moment. The attention to language’s structure and the interest in the meaningless, the misunderstanding, the humor, the absurd, and the highlighting of trivial movements and expressions make her work playful, and lucid but at the same time conceptually solid. The large machine-sewn tapestries represent some of the world leaders on top of their podiums. Furthermore, the gouache paintings are composite coats of arms recalling medieval heraldry and iconography. The inspiration was drawn from the visual appeal of common political aesthetic experienced by Danish during the pandemic; podiums, flags, microphones, and words-speaking politicians will make us change the way we live. Danish deftly and humorously mocks this aesthetic, countering public expectations and intentionally distracting us from the authentic and, yet, dramatic themes involved.
Dina Danish (Paris, FR) is an Egyptian artist and educator living and working in Amsterdam. In her multi-media work, Danish focuses on language and structure, incorporating humour and misunderstanding. Awarded illy Present Future Prize and Barclay Simpson Award, Danish work was also shortlisted for Prix de Rome, Volkskrant Award and Abraaj Art Prize. Exhibitions include Stedelijk Museum Schiedam, De Appel Art Centre in Amsterdam, South London Gallery, Beirut in Cairo, MAMbo Bologna, and Kunsthall Oslo. Her work is held in several collections including De Nederlandsche Bank, Nomas Foundation, ABN Amro Collection, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and MoMA. Galleries representing Danish are Stigter van Doesburg, Amsterdam, Barbara Seiler, Zurich and Rita Urso artopiagallery, Milan. Danish studied at the American University in Cairo and California College of the Arts. She was artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, PiST in Istanbul, The American Academy in Rome, Rose Residency Programme MAMbo in Bologna, A.I.R. Dubai, by Delfina Foundation and ResO Fondazione Spinola Banna per l’Arte in Poirino. Danish teaches at The Royal Academy in The Hague and at Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.