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Cristiana de Marchi’s works address socially-relevant themes of global relevance

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Italian-Lebanese artist Cristiana de Marchi, who has been based in Dubai since 2006, is well-known in the region for her curatorial, editorial as well as her own poetic work.

She concluded her first institutional solo exhibition titled “Finer a Thread.. in the Swell of Wandering Words” on Thursday at the Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah, a non-profit creative imitative under Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), which supports emerging and established artists in the region,

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The exhibition, which was curated by Cima Azzam, focused mainly on the artist’s stitched and knitted serial works, but also includes a selection of the artist’s performance-based video practice, mixed media pieces and previously unshown artworks.

The exhibition showed an overview of her previously not yet displayed works. It shined a light on her immense artistic practice that stems from labor-intense works addressing themes of global relevance, contrasting notions of individuality with collective experiences of belonging to countries and nationalities.

Cristiana de Marchi, who has been based in Dubai since 2006, is well-known in the region for her curatorial, editorial as well as her own poetic work. (Supplied)
Cristiana de Marchi, who has been based in Dubai since 2006, is well-known in the region for her curatorial, editorial as well as her own poetic work. (Supplied)



The title of the exhibition “Finer: A thread …” related to a verse by the German-Romanian post-World War II poet Paul Celan published in 1955, from the poem “Speak, you too.”

The poem addresses the human ability to rise from fall, through the power of language, conveying that there is a possibility for recovery after experiencing existential threats. As if the human capability were disappearing like a thread into the highest heights, only to come back with full force, the exhibition took the poem as a starting point to address both – creation and destruction and the many nuances of their interplay with each other.

The word “thread” in the poem also points out the artist’s main material featuring in this exhibition – yarns in various colours, used in different techniques and onto multiple two- and three-dimensional surfaces. Elevating the medium of needlework, that is often associated with the feminine, domestic, and crafts-based realm, the artist has re-positioned it as a highly versatile and contemporary artistic medium in its own right. The artist’s works have a contemporary look to them, not least by way of their minimalistic and often monochrome appearance.

Cristiana de Marchi’s works also stem from a truly felt plea for equality and justice. Principled and committed to moral accountability, they address fundamental human rights, laws of different countries and the circumstances under which these are given or denied. Her works give ample evidence thereof, for example, her newly created, labour intense knitted piece approximating a 6.5-meter-high wall, and, as its extreme counterpart, the 2 x 2 m smallest reported size of a prison cell, which are just two examples of her exploration of spatial freedom and its denial.

Divided into four main sections, this exhibition introduced de Marchi’s practice through her interactive and playful game-oriented works in the beginning, followed by serial works on stitched surfaces and knitted pieces addressing various subjects in the second part. The third section contrasts these smaller scale works with the large ‘Monument to the Fallen Wall’ and ends the exhibition, in a fourth section, with an outlook on de Marchi’s multi-media practice, including the elements of light, brightness, and a sense of hopefulness in her work.

Summarising the exhibition and its significance, Cristiana de Marchi said: “I am sincerely thankful to Maraya Art Center for the opportunity they have offered me to show a survey of my artistic practice in a solo presentation at their venue. Over the past 15 years, I have been an active member of the UAE art scene, with the extraordinary entry point of being associated as a curator and writer to The Flying House, since its very inception. This fabulous experience has inevitably marked my understanding of the UAE artistic development, while also granting me the support of a community of peer artists who have rapidly turned to encouraging me to exhibit my works.

“I see this exhibition as a culmination of the path that I have so far accomplished as an artist in the UAE, where I have found a generous response to my internal dialogue, as well as a nurturing terrain for deeply delving in engaging conversations and creative dedication.”

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