A history of southern surrealism, between Monaco and Alexandria: a journey that defies established cartographies, far from the nationalistic landmarks of a European-centric history of modernity.
Monaco-Alexandria presents itself as an emancipated exhibition from the spectrum of nationalist and Eurocentric art history. It is remarkable in this respect to depart from Monaco and its Nouveau Musée National to rethink North-South relations, in particular between key areas of Mediterranean Europe, including in its African and Eastern dimensions.
In this perspective, the NMNM in collaboration with Zamân Books & Curating, aims to create a dialogue between Monaco and Alexandria, namely two world-capitals with eloquent and yet little-known relations, woven in the heart of the 20th century, through transnational themes: ballets and (post)orientalist shows, southern surrealism, flora and fauna, feminist eroticism, urban development and nightlife; ultimately, the symbols and the poetics of cosmopolitanism through two great Mediterranean crossroads; both marked by the imprint of dreams and tourist mythologies as by that of the avant-garde in exile. Beyond the major themes explored, the exhibition + books aim at writing an unprecedented page in this connected and often French-speaking history, although shaped between several contact zone (Monaco, France, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Egypt, etc.).
Monaco, alike these other crossroads of influences, developed through a great mix of populations and communities; not lands of immigration but real cosmopolis: port cities with hundreds of different nationalities through their migratory, political and cultural history - beyond a relationship between locals and foreigners: genuine world-capitals. Of course on two very different scales, that specific to Monaco (the second smallest independent state in the world after the Vatican) and that of Alexandria ("the" capital of the Mediterranean between 1850 and 1950) but which meet in the dynamics of Mediterranean capitals. Monaco-Alexandria also includes a strong presence of female protagonists from all walks of life and long marginalized by authorized history (written by men) while they fully participate in these Egyptomaniac avant-gardes. This story made of almost secret links but structuring the Mediterranean experience of modernity is embodied in the figures of writers, poets, painters, decorators and philosophers all embodying a desire to come true between fluid and cross-border worlds; beyond the rise of nationalisms and fascisms which they had to face.
Published on the occasion of the eponymous exhibition at Nouveau Musée National de Monaco - Villa Sauber, from December 2021 to May 2022, with Hamed Abdalla, Zeinab Abdel Hamid, Clea Badaro, George Bahgoury, Raoul Barba, Ezekiel Baroukh, René Billotte, Anna Boghiguian, Bona, Nabil Boutros, Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Michele Ciacciofera, Giorgio de Chirico, Eric de Nemes, Angelo de Riz, Valentine de Saint-Point, Marcel Duchamp, Raoul Dufy, Louis-Emile Durandelle, François Z. Eberl, Inji Efflatoun, J. Enrietti, Leonor Fini, Yona Friedman, Ali Hegazy, Georges Henein, Pierre Jahan, Abdul Kader El-Janabi, Marc Janson, Fouad Kamel, Ida Kar, Germaine Krull, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Stanislao Lepri, Louis Ernest Lessieux, André Lothe, Antoine Malliarakis aka Mayo, Joyce Mansour, Ibrahim Massouda, Mohamed Naghi, Marguerite Nakhla, Jean Painlevé, Samir Rafi, Khadiga Riaz, Yasser Rustum, Lothar Schreyer, Wael Shawky, Salah Taher, Virginia Tentindo, Kees Van Dongen, Amédée Vignola, Alphonse Visconti, Adham Wanly, Seif Wanly, Ramsès Younan...