Tea with Nefertiti: The making of an artwork by the artist, the museum and the public

IVAM Institut Valencià d’Art Modern , Valencia, Spain
08 Nov 2013 - 26 Jan 2014

Tea with Nefertiti explores the visual and literary mechanisms by which artworks come to acquire a range of meanings and functions that can embody a number of diverse, and at times conflicting narratives. Through employing the Nefertiti bust as a metaphorical thread, and by interrogating the contested history of Egyptian Museum collections from the 19th century onwards, the exhibition is concerned with the critique of museology, the staging of the artwork and the writing of art-historical narrative as a means of forming and informing cultural otherness.

The exhibition is organized along three thematic chapters that reflect on the process of appropriation, de-contextualization and re-semanticisation that an artwork undergoes as it travels through time and place. The Artist section highlights the artist’s formalistic departures and contributions as evidenced through the artworks on display. The Museum section examines the institutionalization of art interrogating how the context in which an artwork is presented bestows on it new meanings and functions. The Public section maps out the unpredictable evolution of art as it expands beyond the atelier and the museum and gets coerced into the writing of problematic meta-narratives.

Tea with Nefertiti is constructed around a series of juxtapositions and groupings of historic, modern and contemporary artworks and documents. This is intended as a gesture towards breaking away from more familiar museum classifications that have been conventionally based on geography, periods and style. It proposes alternative paradigms for art historical construction that transcend the confines of geo-temporal linearity. These constructs are conceived as pointers to an ongoing process of cultural transfer, of appropriation and negotiation that exists beyond the parameters of a much-contested historiography.

The artists featured in the exhibition are:
Valerio Adami, Eduardo Arroyo, Mohamad-Said Baalbaki, Taha Belal, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Alberto Corazón, Honoré Daumier, Thomas Demand, Frantisek Drtikol, Manuel Falces, Alberto Giacometti, Gilbert & George, Julio González, Candida Höfer, Iman Issa, J & K (Janne Schäfer & Kristine Agergaard), Emily Jacir, Ida Kar, Klosz, William Kentridge, Susanne Kriemann, Little Warsaw (Bálint Havas and András Gálik), Maha Maamoun, Luigi Mayer, Lee Miller, Mahmoud Moukhtar, Vik Muniz, Youssef Nabil, Xenia Nikolskaya, Amy Nimr, Lorraine O’Grady, Grayson Perry, David Roberts, Rainer Ruthenbeck, Nida Sinnokrot, Robert Smithson, Thomas Struth, David G. Tretiakoff, Kees van Dongen, Ai Weiwei, Ala Younis, Bassem Yousri

The exhibition will be on view at IVAM from November 8, 2013 till January 26, 2014. It was on view at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha from November 17, 2012 till March 31, 2013 followed by l’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris from April 23, 2013 till September 8, 2013. The exhibition will travel to the Museum of Egyptian Art (Staatlichen Museum Ägyptischer Kunst – SMAK) in Munich where it will be on show from April until September. A bilingual (English Arabic) catalogue was published by Mathaf and Bloomsbury and a bilingual (French/Arabic) catalogue was published by IMA and  SKIRA. A downloadable Spanish version will be available at IVAM with a bilingual (German/English) edition to be published by SMAK.