Charlotte Bank Projects
Chaza Charafeddine: Dame aux fruits / from the series Divine Comedy (2010)


Performing Gender

Identities and Performativity in Contemporary Art


curated by

Charlotte Bank and Salah Saouli

Art-Lab Berlin

April 2019 - February 2020


The project Performing Gender explores the increasing visibility of alternative gender identities, as they are articulated in the works by artists (mainly) outside the West. It is organized by Art-Lab Berlin, an alternative artistic project space launched in 2012 whose work focuses on the international artistic community of Berlin with a particular emphasis on artists from the Middle East. The project will be launched in April 2019 with a lecture by Charlotte Bank to introduce the topic and comprises a series of events: three exhibitions, two performances, as well as artist talks, lectures and musical performances. 


In 1991, the American philosopher and theorist Judith Butler published her book “Gender Trouble“, which subsequently developed into one of the founding texts of gender studies and especially queer theory. Her approach to gender as performative rather than inherent was taken up in particular by trans-activists as it established a discursive basis to increase the visibility of their movement.

These ideas are also discussed in the Middle East, in the socially and culturally progressive segments of society and in artistic production, even if this often has to be done with some caution to steer free of repercussions. Thereby, links to premodern gender fluidity is occasionally highlighted as a way to point to indigenous queerness which was lost during the modernization process of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Heteronormative binary is thus defined as a consequence of colonialism. Although these subjects still represent a fraught terrain in the Middle East, artists attempt to carve out spaces for their negotiation.

The project presents works by artists from Europe and the Middle East that articulate alternative notions of gender, questions conventional gender roles and their social significance and examine the performativity of identity and gender. If these questions were long considered taboo and remained in the underground, they have gained greater acceptance during the past ten years and have also found their way into contemporary art.

Supported by Hauptstadtkulturfonds

Opening: Performance by Adir Jan: Cosmopolitan Kurdesque

Imagining Utopia (May 2019)

Artists: Fereydoun Ave, Chaza Charafeddine, Clara Joris

Dreams of a Golden Age (October 2019)

Artists: Azza El-Hassan, May Kassem, Nabiha Lotfi, Akram Zaateri,

Performance by Göksu Kunak a.k.a Gucci Chunk

The Body in Pieces (November 2019)

Artists: Mohammed Badarne, Silvia Giambrone, Kevork Mourad, Nadia Safieddine

Performance by Saja Noori and Ghaith Noori

Closing event: Performance by Anthony Hüseyin: The Lucky One

Charlotte Bank Projects |