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The Sultan Gallery presents the second solo show of Kuwaiti visual artist Aseel AlYaqoub during the national month of February. Bringing together almost two years of research revolving around Kuwait's postage stamps, Culture Fair focuses on AlYaqoub's dialogue with the nation's use of imagery and events during the Golden Era (circa 1940-1980) in particular. Known for her politically satirical works of art, Aseel AlYaqoub explores various histories of Kuwait's past and how it emerges into the present. Using nostalgia as an instrument for critical thought, rather than longing for the past, allows AlYaqoub to investigate the invention and reinvention of heritage and tradition.

In collecting Kuwaiti postage stamps, AlYaqoub probes at the visually subdued and discreet nature of the exhibited propaganda. As it was once widely circulated, the postage stamp does not usually have an unmistakable message, enhancing its peculiar effectiveness as a propaganda model. It went from hand to hand and town to town; it reached the farthest corners and provinces of a country and even the farthest countries of the world. It was and may still be a symbol of the nation from which the stamp is mailed, a vivid expression of that country's culture, civilization and of its ideas and ideals.

The exhibition is categorized into three modules of time. In Yesterday, AlYaqoub reconfigures the narratives of old stamps by dissecting and reassembling the layers, destroying the national artefact and image into collages. The new images are displayed as cultural relics found in world fairs, with magnifying domes that function as lenses to expand and emphasize the continuity of history. In the Palace of Justice, a dinosaur holding a large sword roams the green fields of the judicial building. Its presence suggests somewhat of a pre-historic nature in the system. A Kuwaiti man stands in the forefront with white paint on his raised hands as though to claim his innocence.

In Today, AlYaqoub proposes three concepts for postage stamps that present vignettes of Kuwait's current culture and external politics. Inspired by an old stamp celebrating 'Traffic Day', Entrepreneurial Day appropriates Edward Hopper's Nighthawks diner and resituates it into a popular area in the city of Kuwait. The initially quiet eatery is packed with familiar young faces indulging in selfies, burgers and coffee in a private soft opening. An immigrant worker juxtaposes this exclusive event through the act of sweeping the pavements in the background.

Tomorrow presents future proposals and expresses traditions and cultural appropriation attitudes that will follow into space. Architectural Fantasies is a nod toward Russian constructivist architect Yakov Chernikhov. At the centre is one of his designs for a future city that carries similar spheres to those on the Kuwait Towers. The regional architectural race to build cities on islands and arid deserts continue outwards into space, presenting the citizens with hope and aspiration. The six scenarios are digital collages inspired by the original Kuwaiti stamps' visual language and use the same offset plate printing and four-colour printing format used to manufacture them.

Alongside the artwork is a projected video of AlYaqoub's delicate process of slicing and reconfiguring stamps and the digital manipulations before their destruction as evidence of their existence.

Graduation Ceremony
March 7 - April 28, 2022    
The Sultan Gallery, Kuwait

Wesbite: www.sultangallery.com
email: sultangallery@sadeer.com
Instagram: @sultangallery

ⓒ Aseel AlYaqoub, 2022