Yemen Artists in Berlin's "On Echoes of Invisible Hearts"

On Echoes of Invisible Hearts: Yemeni Displacement exhibition in Berlin

Exhibition Opening and Reception:

September 26, 2018  6 - 8 pm

The Poetry Project
Fehrbelliner Str. 30,
10119 Berlin, Germany

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following press release on this unique exhibition is provided by Diwan Al Fan, which is dedicated to supporting visual art, music and film from Yemen through local and international projects - including exhibitions, art residencies and music productions. Providing a global perspective on Yemeni art and culture, Diwan Al Fan encourages the development of projects that expand the discourse around contemporary art, music and film from Yemen. Diwan Al Fan was established in November 2017 by Ibi Ibrahim and is the arts initiative of the Sana'a based Romooz Foundation for the Arts and Cultural Development.]

Diwan Al Fan is pleased to announce On Echoes of Invisible Hearts: Narratives of Yemeni Displacement, a group show curated by Lila Nazemian running from September 26 to October 18, 2018 and featuring works by Ibi IbrahimYasmine DiazHabeeb Mohammad Abu-FuttaimSaba JalasEman al-Awami, and Arif Al Nomay. An illustrated catalogue by Yemeni designer Zulfa Ishak will accompany the exhibition.

By reflecting on the current instability in Yemen and the greater refugee crisis throughout the region, On Echoes of Invisible Hearts features artists in Yemen and the diaspora whose works explore themes of loss and estrangement. As the war reached its three-year anniversary this March, there seems to be no end in sight to the violence taking place, yet coverage and understanding of this conflict and its severe social, humanitarian, and infrastructural consequences remains minimal. Beyond falling short on complexifying reports to include the ethically dubious role of Western powers in regional conflicts, media outlets especially fail to discuss the emotional toll this war has taken on everyday Yemenis.

In an effort to engage with more personal accounts, the exhibition will act as a platform to put forth the artists’ views regarding various personal and collective experiences, as Yemenis, but more importantly as displaced individuals. Being displaced does not merely refer to a literal meaning, but also points to emotional and spiritual uprootedness. The show is conceived to be presented in Berlin so as to further connect to the greater refugee and immigrant experiences that have been at the forefront of current-day political discourses.

art by Yasmine Diaz

Sourcing content from top U.S. news outlets, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times, first generation Yemeni-American Yasmine Diazfocuses on the disproportionate distribution of information about one the most dire issues of our time.  In her works, Diaz examines the censored and limited U.S. media coverage of the conflict in Yemen. 

Departure by Sana'a and Berlin-based Ibi Ibrahim features a video and photo installation comprised of pictures sent to the artist by displaced and stranded Yemenis reflecting their constant state of instability and longing for home. Qatar-based artist Habeeb MohammadAbu-Futtaim’s video installation Water Borders depicts dissolving colored salt bricks, molded in the shapes found in Arab flags, floating in water as a reference to the regional politics at play and to the fate of thousands of refugees who were forced to flee their homes by sea. In his video Undoing the Displacement of my Belief shows the artist struggling to remove the white center of a green rectangular mold. Through his work, Abu-Futtaim reflects upon a still prominent yet age-old struggle within members of the Islamic faith; gauging the relationship between religion and politics.

Departure by Ibi Ibrahim

In her series Smoke Drawings, Sana’a-based Saba Jallas gathers photographs taken with mobile phones in the aftermath of bombings around Yemen and superimposes her own cartoon drawings within the contours of the smoke. Through her various interventions, the works obfuscate the infrastructural and psychological devastation in each photograph to reveal a dreamlike alternate of hope and security. Eman al-Awami’s project re-examines her own photographs taken on behalf of humanitarian agencies to raise project funds, but that at times portray Yemenis in humiliating states. She then began conscientiously photographing local entrepreneurs in Sana’a in a collaborative manner, so as to inspire new fund-raising avenues for local and specific initiatives.

The Corrupted Files project by Riyadh-based Arif Al Nomay consists of digital image files of the 2014 Sana’a Summer Festival that were inadvertently corrupted on the artist’s computer. These new images are essentially compilations of multiple photographs, with some sections and color left intact, while others are pixelated. Displayed for the first time here as light boxes, landscapes, individuals, and objects are visible despite the visual chaos of this joyous and lighthearted celebration.

The Corrupted Files project by Riyadh-based Arif Al Nomay


Working in diverse mediums, the artists exhibiting explore themes of identity, memory, representation and displacement, all within the current context of war and instability. By diversifying the dominant narratives about Yemen and its peoples, the exhibition draws attention to the discrepancies that exist between public and private knowledge of events unfolding in Yemen daily. On Echoes of Invisible Hearts challenges viewers to reflect on their understanding of the conflict and to question the roles of various geo-political forces and the responsibilities of Western governments within the larger refugees crisis.

On Echoes of Invisible Hearts is made possible with the generous support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES).

Press Contact: I @diwanalfan

Artworks from top:
Yasmine Diaz, Averting is easy, 2018, Mixed media collage and glitter on watercolor paper, 30 x 22 in / 76.2 x 55.88 cm
Saba Jallas, Untitled (Smoke Drawings), 2015-2018, Illustration on digital photographs, Sizes variable
Arif Al Nomay, File 7987 (Corrupted Files Series), 2014-2018, Lightbox, 23.6 x 35.4 in / 60 x 90 cm

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