Monaco – Alexandria, The Great Detour. World-Capitals and Cosmopolitan SurrealismFrom Friday 17 December 2021 to Monday 2 May 2022, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco - Villa Sauber
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 Zamân Books & Curating, 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 + books 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, like these other hubs of where different influences meet, developed through a great mix of populations and communities. Not lands of immigration, but real cosmopolises. Port cities with hundreds of different nationalities through their migratory, political and cultural history, beyond a relationship between locals and foreigners. Genuine global capitals. On two very different scales, of course: that of 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 strongly features female protagonists from all walks of life and long marginalised by authorised 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.
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