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Shu Tabkha, Ya Mara?


by Halleh Founouni

Zena and I had to put together a series of events in conjunction with the “Imagining Ourselves” global project, starting in March and ending in June, where each month an event centered on a theme. The themes varied, as did the events we held- from a “ladies night in” group discussion on the topic of “love”, to a Palestinian refugee camp art workshop to empower women, to a solo art exhibit. But all along we had our eyes set on June and the theme of the “the future and taking action”. We had our grandiose plans to combine all of the topics the “Imagining Ourselves” project had provided as themes over the months, and what better way to do so than with the final event concerned with “the future”. The way we see it, “the future” is an endless ocean of possibilities. As such we decided to go against the status quo of mainstream art exhibits in Lebanon and combine a group of 21 women artists with Lebanese roots and one purpose- to define themselves under one roof.

“Shu Tabkha, Ya Mara” translates to “What’s Cooking, Woman?” It is a derogatory term many women have grown accustomed to hearing from their spouses in the Arab world. We decided on this title in good humor and as a representation of all the negative stereotypes inflicted upon women, especially in the Arab world. As a collective, “Shu Tabkha, Ya Mara?” is a group exhibit of the 21 most dynamic young women artists with Lebanese roots who we have managed to locate both locally and abroad.

The process of tracking down these women was a hefty one. Most are exhibiting for the first time, suffering from the exact problem we feel Lebanon is lacking when concerned with the arts, and that is a lack of funding and opportunity that came about as a result of decades of political unrest.

When it came to our choice of the women exhibiting for “Shu Tabkha, Ya Mara?” we had a few guides to go by. We were in search for the next generation of Lebanese women artists involved in all aspects of the community we live in. Be it social or environmental activism, we were seeking young women artists who not only want to promote their art but also give back to the community as much as they have received. The artists in “Shu Tabkha, Ya Mara?” all have stories to tell. They do so through their choice of medium, ranging from musicians, painters, sculptors, knitters, video jockeys, photographers, animators, performers, and poets. These 21 artists have sacrificed a regular and comfortable lifestyle in order to cross over the margin, and to walk away from where mainstream art is what sells. They are leaving their mark on the world we live in, and we in turn, by putting together this exhibit and creating a community with each and every one of them as a member, will ensure that they be firmly placed on the map. These women will never be forgotten and are here to encourage other artists that it is possible to do your own thing. These women are here to remind other artists that there is no error in art, especially as long as you are sincere and fearless in expressing yourself.

We hope that by introducing “Shu Tabkha, Ya Mara?” our message reaches the Lebanese public at large, and all of those with skewed misconceptions of the Arab world and Arab women in particular. We look forward to consequently carry on more exhibitions of a collective nature, bring together artists, and build a tight-knit arts community of every aspect. We believe that through collective art exhibits and collaboration, we as a community will benefit and expand in hopes to create a unified and national identity.

Halleh Founouni

Participating Artists

(click name for more info)

Hiba Abou Al Hosn

Tamara Al Samerraei

Mounira Al Solh

Stephanie Boueri

Ritta Baddoura

Joanna Chatila

Ginou Choueiri

Zena el Khalil

Hala El Rayess

Halleh Founouni

Kinda Hassan

Rania Hassan

Karen Kalou

Sintia Karam

Marya Kazoun

Nadine Khouri

Sally Khoury

Lena Merhej

Randa Mirza

Yasmina Alexandra Nysten

Anastasia Cassandra Nysten

Marie Joe Raidy

Suzanne Talhouk



JUNE 3RD, 2006: OPENING NIGHT 7:30pm - midnight

7:30pm doors open
9:00pm – 9:20pm, poetry performances by: ritta baddoura & susan talhouk
10:00pm, collaborative multi-media performance, “When I Was An Alien, Cultures Weren’t Opinions”  by : DJ inkset, Kinda Hassan, Lena Merhej & Randa Mirza



8pm, Poetry Jam open mike <everyone is welcome to come and perform>
9pm – 9:15pm, Cello & Opera performance: Anastasia Cassandra Nysten & Maya el Helou
9:30 – 11:00pm, Nadine Khouri, Unplugged Concert


JUNE 24: CLOSING NIGHT PARTY 7:30pm – midnight

open weekdays 7:30 – midnight, Saturdays 4pm – midnight, the exhibition will run from June 4 – June 27

LOCATION: Art Lounge, Corniche el Nahr, River Bridge, above Adam’s factory, Beirut. Open every day except Monday. To contact Art Lounge, please call +961-3-997676

GUIDED ART TOURS available on location everyday (except Monday) given by participating artist from 7:30pm – 9:30pm


FOR MORE INFORMATION: info@xanaduart.com +961-3-562259

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