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When I arrived in Boston six months ago to take the post of Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the ICA, the long, cold days of winter provided me with the time and space to think about ICA’s future program of exhibitions, performances, talks, and events. The Internet has allowed for the virtual erasure of geographic boundaries and easy exchange and access to information, products, images, communities, and visual cultures from anywhere with an Internet connection. In today’s globalized world, I believe it is imperative for American museums to examine art beyond the United States and Western Europe to make connections with the various histories, traditions, artists, and institutions outside our own country. This can be achieved by exhibiting artists from around the globe, but also by expanding our web reach, with images and dialogues that can be accessed by anybody, anywhere, anytime.
This year the ICA is launching a series of exhibitions and programs by a roster of international artists that address a variety of issues in contemporary art. In December we will host The Birthday Party, the first exhibition in an American museum of three Iranian artists based in Dubai; in February, we will open the first American mid-career survey of Lebanese artist Walid Raad; and in summer, we will present an all-encompassing installation of the Indian artist Nalini Malani. In The Birthday Party, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian will transform the gallery space into a total installation that includes the trio’s work in sculpture, video, painting, and collage, which brings together an impressive array of references and objects—from zaar music and mermaids to the work of Louise Bourgeois, and Hassan Sharif. Raad’s work in photography, video, sculpture, and performance, which weaves together fact and fiction, examines how we write, construct, and remember history, specifically the histories of regions in conflict. Malani, India’s leading artist and a committed activist, will present her enthralling multimedia installation In Search of Vanished Blood, which tells the story of a struggling female artist and visionary. Each of the exhibitions will be accompanied by a rich array of educational offerings and programs that will allow our audiences—both local and virtual—to engage with these artists’ work and ideas.
Of course we will keep exhibiting the work of artists closer to home, including Chicago-based sculptor Diane Simpson (opening December); Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer (opening April); and the Boston-born, New York–based photographer Liz Deschenes (opening July). Made under a diverse range of geographic, political, social, and aesthetic circumstances, these exhibitions together present a wide range of approaches to the artistic, political, social, and cultural flux that have shaped the current global landscape.