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Elham Rokni: The Seven Abdulkarims

The Center for Contemporary Art is proud to present The Seven Abdulkarims, a solo exhibition by Elham Rokni. This project follows her research into the role of folktales in creating memories and identity – especially for refugees and immigrants – within the context of Israeli society.

Presented in this exhibition is a selection of drawings and a new video related to a group of folktales regaled to the artist by Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers who live in Israel. These stories have a double presence: On one hand, they are manifestations of cultural expansion within Israeli society and therefore have been registered by Rokni to be part of the Israel Folktale Archives (IFA) at the University of Haifa. On the other hand, the stories have become the main component of Rokni’s artistic research, manifested in a book, titled The Iblis, the Girl, the Sultan and the Lion’s Tail – which includes the stories in Hebrew, English, Arabic (the official language of Sudan), and Tigrinya (the official language of Eritrea), — as well as in the aforementioned drawings, presented as illustrations to the tales. Through this complex series of actions, the artist has created a book that simultaneously functions as educational and political tool, but also as an artist book and the accompanying publication of her solo exhibition at the CCA.

In her practice, Rokni connects her personal experience as an immigrant to urgent political and ethical issues. She sees the migration of asylum seekers and refugees to Israel as a continuation of previous waves of immigration that characterized the history of this country. More specifically, the artist is interested in the notions of accessibility and free movement related to the dialectical development of globalization, namely, in the free movement of money, goods, services, and elites versus the reality in fortified nations and communities, surrounded by separation walls and other barriers.

Elham Rokni (*1980, Tehran, Iran; lives and works in Tel Aviv) is one of the most interesting voices in the Israeli artistic community. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at New Gallery in Höhmannhaus in Augsburg, Germany; Shulamit Nazarian in Venice, California; 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, California; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, The Artists House in Jerusalem and The Janco-Dada Museum in Ein Hod, Israel.

Her work has been included in group exhibitions such as “Lives Between” at Kadist in San Francisco; “Islamic Art Now, Part 2” at LACMA in Los Angeles; “Connubial” at Garborgsenteret in Bryne, Norway; “Light and Shadows” at the Fowler Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles; “Search Engine” at the CCA Tel Aviv and more.

Images: Elad Sarig

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