The Venice Biennale has established itself as one of the leading global art and culture organizations.  For more than a century, this institution promoted the latest in art, architecture, music and theatre, inviting international artists and creatives from all over the world to take part in their many events.

Among those events is the International Art Exhibition, known for supporting and exhibiting contemporary art. This year's 54th International Art Exhibition, titled ILLUMInazioni (ILLUMInations) which opened in Venice on the 3rd June, will last until 27th November 2011. The event is directed by Bice Curiger and organized by la Biennale di Venezia and was available for view to the public on Saturday 4th June.

The Future of a Promise, the largest Pan-Arab show of contemporary art, was presented at the 54th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia) on the 4th of June, 2011. The exhibition brought together artwork from a multitude of Arab countries among which are Lebanon, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.

The exhibition, curated by Lina Lazaar and produced by Edge of Arabia, hosted some of the most remarkable artworks, ranging from installation and performance to photography and painting.

Among the participating artists are Ziad Abillama (Lebanon), Manal Al-Dowayan (Saudi Arabia), Ahmed Alsoudani (Iraq), Ziad Antar (Lebanon), Ayman Baalbaki (Lebanon), Lara Baladi (Egypt/Lebanon), Fayçal Baghriche (Algeria), Yto Barrada (Morocco), Taysir Batniji (Palestine), Abdelkader Benchamma (France/Algeria), Ayman Yossri Daydban (Palestine/Jordan), Mounir Fatmi (Morocco), Abdulnasser Gharem (Saudi Arabia), Mona Hatoum (Lebanon), Raafat Ishak (Egypt), Emily Jacir (Palestine), Yazan Khalili (Palestine), Ahmed Mater (Saudi Arabia), and Driss Ouadahi (Algeria), as well as three Abraaj Capital Art Prize Winners, Jananne Al-Ani (Iraq), Kader Attia (Algeria) and Nadia Kaabi-Linke (Tunisia).

The Future of a Promise explores the deeper meaning of that term that we know oh so well, and have heard of time and time again: "the promise of a better future". As the organizers put it, "In an age where the ‘promise of the future’ has become something of a cliché, what is meant by The Future of a Promise?".

While political turmoil unfolds in a number of Arab countries – from North Africa to the Middle East – it is only natural for those living in those areas to wonder what lies next. Promises are made left and right, with those same people hanging on to every thread of hope. They cling to the hope of a better future and yet many are still left hanging.

The exhibition seeks to examine exactly that. Curator Lina Lazaar says, “Through the artworks selected, I wanted to investigate how artists from this diverse, fragmented region have responded to the often contradictory promises that have defined our history. I am incredibly proud and honored to be putting together this exhibition in 2011, at such critical times for the Arab world, and I very much hope to create the rightful platform for these voices to be heard.”

– Alya N. Al-Othman

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