Arab American Artists at the 12th International Cairo Biennale


The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs selected the Arab American National Museum to organize the United States’ representation of American artists at the 12th International Cairo Biennale in Egypt, December 12, 2010 through February 12, 2011.

The United States pavilion features the work of American artists Annabel Daou, Dahlia Elsayed, Rheim Alkadhi and Nadia Ayari. Ranya Husami curated the group exhibition, entitled Orienteering.


Click HERE to visit the official website of the 12th International Cairo Biennale.

Click HERE to download a press release from the Arab American National Museum.

Click HERE to download the Orienteering gallery guide in English.

Click HERE to download the Orienteering gallery guide in Arabic.



Blue Domes

from where to where by Annabel Daou

Annabel Daou

Annabel Daou has created a site-specific, time-based installation entitled from where to where, which throws into confusion concepts of time and place—indicators essential to how art is traditionally selected, organized, identified, contextualized, displayed, and understood. In New York and Beirut, Daou asked strangers: Where are you now? Where are you coming from? and Where are you going to? and “mapped”/wrote down the responses she received. The piece is accompanied by a sound installation, created by Daou and Greta Byrum, which incorporates the same answers to the same questions, in the same languages, recorded simultaneously. The piece’s title makes it an inquiry into how identity is asserted, undermined, and/or reconstructed through the ongoing exchange between “location” and state of mind. 

Annabel Daou is of Lebanese descent and is based in New York, New York.

Click HERE for further information.

Blue Domes

Still by Dahlia Elsayed

Dahlia Elsayed

The art of Dahlia Elsayed also, upon first impression, resembles a map. Since childhood, Elsayed has kept journals, incorporating images overlapped with text. These have evolved into large-scale paintings, some in diptych form, that use image and text to create detailed, visual narratives of locations and experience. Part data-tracking and part typography, the paintings examine the aesthetic surfaces and ephemeral cultural markers of recent immigrant populations, of which Elsayed is a part; political strife has caused each of the last three generations of her family to immigrate to a new continent. The paintings are depictions of both external and internal geographies, neither of them rooted in the physical world. Elsayed has come to believe that cities are shaped less by architecture than by the social experiences and memories that occur there; it is these experiences and memories which are depicted in her work.

Dahlia Elsayed is an Egyptian American from Palisades Park, New Jersey.

Click HERE for further information.

Blue Domes

Domestic Floor Covering by Rheim Alkadhi

Rheim Alkadhi

Rheim Alkadhi has used found objects to construct her work in two parts: Domestic Floor Covering and Conference of Flies. The first, an Oriental rug caked with dirt, evokes a domicile that has been soiled and corrupted. Circular portions of varying sizes have been extracted or replaced with the statistical and geographical accuracy of a map, in direct reference to Iraq's displacement crisis. The second element, Conference of Flies, presents these insects as material manifestations of a sweltering atmosphere, an absurdist representation of the perpetual state of indeterminacy that hijacks both public and private spaces.

Rheim Alkadhi, of both Iraqi and American background, is based in Los Angeles, California.

Click HERE for further information.

Blue Domes

Blue Domes by Nadia Ayari

Nadia Ayari

Nadia Ayari grew up in the religiously tolerant culture of Tunisia. She did not begin depicting Middle Eastern subject matter in her paintings until she came to the U.S. and began confronting notions of cultural heritage and identity. Her work involves the deliberate positing of opposing ideals and expectations. She sometimes depicts threatening, violent characters in absurd, comic scenarios. These are rendered in sensuously textural impasto paint and bright candy colors, negating and poking fun at their subject matter. The cartoon-like subject matter, simplistic imagery and bubblegum palette belie a deeper meaning. Ayari employs these means, as well as icons of Western Art history like surrealism. She deftly manipulates Western notions of how contemporary “Arab” art should look, turning such notions squarely on their heads. Her Biennale works are entitled Camo, Wild Flowers and Blue Domes.

Nadia Ayari was born in Tunisia and now resides in New York, New York.

Click HERE for further information.

Independent curator Ranya Husami recently obtained an M.A. in Modern Art and Curating at Columbia University. Her master’s thesis, The Dog Ate My Framework: The Originality of the Post-War Lebanese Avant-Garde and Other Post-Modernist Myths, examines the formation of narratives and origin stories that have crystallized around conceptual art practices in post-war Lebanon. She is currently a researcher and writer at an art advisory firm in New York, which curates the private collections of some of the top modern and contemporary art collectors in the U.S. She specializes in conceptual art, with an emphasis on art from the Middle East.

About the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) promotes international mutual understanding through a wide range of academic, cultural, professional, and sports exchange programs. ECA exchanges engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and emerging leaders in many fields in the United States and in more than 160 countries. Alumni of ECA exchanges comprise over one million people around the world, including more than 50 Nobel Laureates and more than 300 current or former heads of state and government. For more information, visit

About the Arab American National Museum
The Arab American National Museum documents, preserves, celebrates and educates the public on the history, life, culture and contributions of Arab Americans. It serves as a resource to enhance knowledge and understanding about Arab Americans and their presence in this country. The Arab American National Museum is a project of ACCESS, a Dearborn, Michigan-based nonprofit human services and cultural organization. Learn more at and

The Arab American National Museum is a proud Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Read about the Affiliations program at

The Museum is located at 13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI, 48126. Museum hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday, Tuesday; Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is $6 for adults; $3 for students, seniors and children 6-12; ages 5 and under, free. Call 313.582.2266 for further information.

13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48126 - Phone (313) 582-AANM (2266) A Project of ACCESS