The Exhibition Taking Khaleeji Art to Tokyo

Why look West when you can look East ?

Sophie Arni can definitely be labelled as an iconoclast curator that aims at straying away from most Western ways of thinking of art and showcasing it. 

Former student at NYU Abu Dhabi, the half-Swiss half-Japanese creative has been trying to steer the focus further onto the Asian continent whilst attempting to build stronger ties and links between the Gulf and Japan where she is currently based. 

By decentralising the Eurocentric approach to culture and art, Sophie Arni is giving birth to a new dialogue between artists from both areas thanking broadband technology and social media for having shed light onto too often ignored stories that also deserve to be under the spotlight and voiced in a proper manner. 

Earlier this month, the Ivy league alumni introduced East-East Vol. 4: The Curio Shop; an installation taking place within the borders of the Japanese capital and which highlights what brings both nations, which at first sight don’t seem as if they have much in common, together. 

Salman Al Najem, One Million Aspirations, 2020

Inspired by the title of Felice Beato’s 1868 photograph taken in Yokohama, the Swiss-Japanese curator explores the niche through the works of several contemporary artists while navigating between three different neighbourhoods in Tokyo throughout the month of July. 

Featuring 14 artists overall, eight from the Gulf, and six from Japan, Arni’s knowledge of both region’s emerging cultural actors has gathered artists of the likes of Almaha Jaralla, Arthur de Oliveira, Hashel Al Lamki and Khalid Mezaina, alongside Japanese equivalents namely Daisak, Heijiro Yagi, Rintaro Fuse and Tomoki Kurokawa.

Meryem Meg Incense on a rock, bamboo and familymart water from the Nagano Prefecture, 2021

Four years after the first installation, the fourth iteration of the re-staged exhibition unveils this time a youth-led blend of artistic pieces ironically torn between the East-East macrocosm. 

Product of years of conversations and relationship-building with some of the most promising UAE-based and Japanese artists, the display is believed to be “in line with the youth-driven wave of artistic dialogues between the Arabian Gulf and Japan” which we cannot wait to discover this summer. 

To know more about about the East-East vol 4:



Main image: Almaha Jaralla, Um Khalthoum And Frida Kahlo, 2019

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