press release

Monaco-Alexandria, the Great Detour: World Capitals and Cosmopolitan Surrealism

December 17, 2021–May 2, 2022

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 curators Morad Montazami and Madeleine de Colnet for Zamân Books & Curating and with the scientific advice of Francesca Rondinelli, 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 and the publication 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.

Artists: Hamed Abdalla, Zeinab Abdel Hamid, Cléa Badaro, George Bahgoury, Raoul Barba, Ezekiel Baroukh, René Billotte, Anna Boghiguian, Bona, Nabil Boutros, Brassaï, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Giorgio de Chirico, Michele Ciacciofera, Marcel Duchamp, Raoul Dufy, Louis-Emile Durandelle, François Z. Eberl, Inji Efflatoun, Jacques Enrietti, Leonor Fini, Yona Friedman, Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar, 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 Lhote, Antoine Malliarakis dit Mayo,Joyce Mansour, Ibrahim Massouda, Gérald Messadié, Mohamed Naghi, Marguerite Nakhla, Eric de Nemes, Jean Painlevé, Samir Rafi, Khadiga Riaz, Angelo de Riz, Yasser Rustum, Mohamed Riyad Saeed, Mahmoud Saïd, Valentine de Saint-Point, Lothar Schreyer, Wael Shawky, Salah Taher, Kamel El-Telmissany, Virginia Tentindo, Kees Van Dongen, Amédée Vignola, Alphonse Visconti, Adham Wanly, Seif Wanly, Ramsès Younan...

Publication as well as educational and public programme developed with the participation of Community Jameel and with the support of The Alexis and Anne-Marie Habib Foundation