Mounira Al Solh’s paintings, works on paper, embroideries, films and performances explore migration, memory, trauma and loss. They bear witness to the continued impact of conflict in the Middle East region and the displacement of people triggered by social and political shifts, war and oppression.

Al Solh documents the experiences of those who have been forced to leave their homes, reflecting particularly on the struggles of women in the Arab world. Often informed by her own Lebanese-Syrian heritage, her moving and intimate works consider the importance of oral histories and storytelling as a record of lived experience.

At BALTIC, Al Solh presents a selection of new and recent drawings and embroidered works relating to migration, homes that have been lost, domestic issues, and the mourning of loved ones. Her series of portraits on yellow legal pad paper, I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous (2012–ongoing), records the experiences of those who have been displaced or exiled from the Middle East and other regions, who are now living in Lebanon, Germany, Greece, many of whom might make (or are making) the transition from refugee status or temporary migrant to permanent resident. In Gateshead, Al Solh has continued this series, collaborating with local women who have moved to the North East and collecting their stories from personal conversations and encounters.

Women’s stories of separation, loss, hope and resilience are also displayed within Al Solh’s large decorative tent titled A day is as long as a year (2022). This major new work has been developed collaboratively with women embroiderers from Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, the Netherlands and South Africa. Made with hand-stitched and machined embroidery on organic henna-tinted hemp, the work is based on an Iranian ceremonial tent from the Qajar era in Iran, currently in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio. The tent is richly embellished with embroidered floral patterns and birds, and the outside panels are decorated by Arabic words which describe notions of sadness and happiness. The tent also contains a sound piece recounting these words, mixed with Iranian songs of sadness and nostalgia.

Al Solh lives between Lebanon and the Netherlands. She has had solo exhibitions at Musée national Pablo Picasso, Vallauris, France (2020); Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2020); Art Institute Chicago (2018); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2014). Recent group exhibitions include: Risquons–Tout, WIELS, Brussels (2020); Our world is burning, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2020); Positions #5, Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven (2019); Gohyang: Home, Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul (2019); Close: Drawn Portraits, The Drawing Room, London, UK (2018); Strange Days: Memories of the Future, The Store X, London (2018). Al Solh participated in Documenta 14, Athens & Kassel (2017) and All the World’s Futures, 56th Venice Biennale (2015).

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