© Alia Ali, Atomic Flower, from the series FLUX, 2019

Alia Ali is a Yemeni-Bosnian-US multi-media artist. Having traveled to sixty-seven countries, lived in seven and grown up among five languages, her most comfortable mode of communication is through image and multi-sensory mediums.

Her extensive travels have led her to process the world through interactive experiences and the belief that the interpretation of verbal and written language has dis-served particular communities and presents more of a threat than a means of understanding.

 

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“Text comes from textile, not the other way around.” Fabric, ancient in its invention, is archival with the passage of time. The fabric, like the human beneath it, or the border it symbolizes, or the photograph that represents it within this body of work, is vulnerable to the elements and to time. When all is said and done, borders shift and textiles disintegrate, but if well preserved and nurtured with culture, knowledge and grace, they remain intact. Borderlands, like textiles and photographs, are territories of exploration and zones in which we will be judged for our humanity. BORDERLAND – The Miniatures pigment print on cotton cag. 310gr., UV protective laminate, mounted on aluminum dibond 17 cm x 17cm // 7in x 7in Series of 25 // Editions of 25 + 1 AP + 1 EP @photoworks_uk @studio.alia.ali #instagramtakeover #photographer #yemeni #yemen #textile #inclusion #exclusion #photography #vietnam #nigeria #uzbekistan #hmong #reddzao #dao #india #rajasthan #silk #waxprint #ikat #Japan #indonesia #batik #weaving #embroidery #border #borderland #text

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Brocade I & II, Cast No Evil Series, 2015 Alia Ali @studio.Alia.ali In my photographic series, Cast No Evil, I invite the viewer to analyze their subjective perception in regards to inclusion and exclusion, and the threshold in which the transition between the two, occurs. What are the perimeters that define each? This body of work highlights the notion of the immediate duality that occurs in any given situation; to have one, you must have the other for either to exist. In this case, understanding inclusion requires us to be critical of what it means to be excluded. In order to be included, must one come from a state of exclusion or vice versa? The theme of duality extends to questioning the moment in which the mysterious becomes apparent, restraint becomes freedom, the underneath becomes the above, and illusion becomes reality. The characters in the portraits, called —cludes, are wrapped in layers of fabric that shield them from interrelating with anything beyond the material. What are these fabricated barriers in society that inhibit the incorporation of others? Or are the obstacles just that: ideas, intuitions, fear, discriminations and ‘understandings’? Does inclusion mean acceptance? If so, does this definition lend itself to exclusion meaning rejection? Or do they both mean different points on the spectrum of tolerance? What side of the fabric are we on and can we be on both sides at once? When we exclude, does it come from the fear of being excluded ourselves? Isn’t exclusion a form of security, as well? If so, what is it that we fear from discovering that lies beneath the cloth and behind the curtain? By remaining indifferent, and incommunicative, do we become like one of them, dehumanized? Dummies? Or are we the ones enclosed and what we see is an illusive barrier that we have bestowed on them? Does the material set a power dynamic? It certainly creates a boundary, but who holds the power; them, for their anonymity, or us, for their confinement? Who are the ‘includes’ and who are the ‘excludes’? @photoworks_uk @studio.alia.ali #instagramtakeover #photographer #yemeni #yemen #textile #inclusion #exclusion #photography

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Alia’s aesthetic interests stem from people, place, and the processes which unite and divide us, all at once. Her work reflects on the politics and poetics of contested notions surrounding the topics of identity, physical borders, universality, mental/physical spaces of confinement, and the inherent dualism that exists in everything. Her work blurs the lines between what we claim to be objective and subjective, illusion and reality, truth and interpretation.

Her work has been featured in publications including the Financial Times, Le Monde, Elle, Vogue, Hyperallergic, and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. Alia has won numerous awards including the LensCulture Emerging Artists Award, the Allan Sekula Social Documentary Grant, the Magenta Foundation’s Emerging Talent Award, and Gold in the Fine Art Category of the Tokyo International Foto Awards. She has exhibited internationally and has most recently shown at Galerie Peter Sillem in Frankfurt, Galerie Siniya 28 in Marrakech, Gulf Photo Plus in Dubai, PhotoLondon 2019 in the UK, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Morocco, the Lianzhou Photo Festival in China, the Stedelijk Museum Schiedam in the Netherlands, and the Katzen Museum of Art in Washington DC. Alia has presented lectures and workshops at Harvard University, the LACMA, the Middle East Institute, Gulf Photo Plus and the Arab American Museum.

 

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Liberty, Cast No Evil Series, 2015 Alia Ali @studio.Alia.ali In my photographic series, Cast No Evil, I invite the viewer to analyze their subjective perception in regards to inclusion and exclusion, and the threshold in which the transition between the two, occurs. What are the perimeters that define each? This body of work highlights the notion of the immediate duality that occurs in any given situation; to have one, you must have the other for either to exist. In this case, understanding inclusion requires us to be critical of what it means to be excluded. In order to be included, must one come from a state of exclusion or vice versa? The theme of duality extends to questioning the moment in which the mysterious becomes apparent, restraint becomes freedom, the underneath becomes the above, and illusion becomes reality. The characters in the portraits, called —cludes, are wrapped in layers of fabric that shield them from interrelating with anything beyond the material. What are these fabricated barriers in society that inhibit the incorporation of others? Or are the obstacles just that: ideas, intuitions, fear, discriminations and ‘understandings’? Does inclusion mean acceptance? If so, does this definition lend itself to exclusion meaning rejection? Or do they both mean different points on the spectrum of tolerance? What side of the fabric are we on and can we be on both sides at once? When we exclude, does it come from the fear of being excluded ourselves? Isn’t exclusion a form of security, as well? If so, what is it that we fear from discovering that lies beneath the cloth and behind the curtain? By remaining indifferent, and incommunicative, do we become like one of them, dehumanized? Dummies? Or are we the ones enclosed and what we see is an illusive barrier that we have bestowed on them? Does the material set a power dynamic? It certainly creates a boundary, but who holds the power; them, for their anonymity, or us, for their confinement? Who are the ‘includes’ and who are the ‘excludes’? @photoworks_uk @studio.alia.ali #instagramtakeover #photographer #yemeni #yemen #textile #inclusion #exclusion #photography

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‎ليس] أنا] // I AM [NOT] Alia Ali, 2018 @studio.alia.ali Thank you for the generous and continuous support of @caravan_arts In response to the bold statement, “I AM,” I investigate the theme in terms of what she is not. To label oneself is to willingly cast oneself in a static mold; yet, each day, as we respond both to major events and to minute decisions, we recast who we are by discovering what we are not. In these auto-portraits, the artist uses woven newspaper to create a barrier between myself and the viewer. I am both the photographer and the subject, the observed and the observer. This piece questions the fabricated barriers in society that vilify the other. Who holds the power to create an identity? How can we break through the lens through which another views us? Perhaps it is better for us to embrace the multiple layers of what creates our complex identities by living on the borders of all what we are rather than continually struggling with abridged stereotypes imposed by others. This leaves the question of what do we really know of anyone? Aren’t we all enveloped in stereotypes created by the other? The more we allow these labels to seep into our judgment, the more of a boundary we weave between each other, becoming both the victim and the culprit, all at once. @photoworks_uk @studio.alia.ali #instagramtakeover #photographer #yemen #yemeni #unitedstates #diaspora #media #newspaper #USA #borders #bans #prejudice #stereotype barriers #aliaali #caravan #photograph #art #textile #weaving #indonesia #java #yogyakarta

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In 2020, Alia will be exhibiting at the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Benton Museum of Art, the CAFKA Biennial, Galerie Peter Sillem and Galerie Siniya 28. She will also be presenting her work at the College Art Association (CAA) Conference in Chicago.

Alia Ali lives and works in Los Angeles and Marrakech.

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