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Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

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Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

decorative shadow image decorative shadow image

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

decorative shadow image decorative shadow image

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

decorative shadow image decorative shadow image

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

decorative shadow image decorative shadow image

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

decorative shadow image decorative shadow image

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

decorative shadow image decorative shadow image

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Jul 23, 2021 – Nov 7, 2021

OVERVIEW

It is human to migrate. Yet, what happens when the stories that compel us to travel turn out to be myths? What objects, cultural ideas or personal histories sustain those myths, and guide our migrations through the world? 

In his first U.S. institutional exhibition, Kuwaiti-born, Giza-based artist Ibrahim Ahmed invites you to explore powerful mythic narratives. These are the stories that have influenced the migrations of so many from the Global South – including his own family. 

Through photo collage, sculpture, video, and large-scale installation, Ahmed wrestles with the cultural forces that prevail in the working-class neighborhood of Ard El Lewa in Giza, within his family, and even his own body.

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You is curated by ICA Executive Director Dominic Asmall Willsdon.

Ibrahim Ahmed (b. 1984, Kuwait) spent his childhood between Bahrain and Egypt before moving to the US at the age of thirteen. In 2014, he relocated to Cairo, where he currently lives and works in the informal neighborhood of Ard El Lewa. Ahmed’s manipulations of material, especially textile, are informed by research into the histories and movements of peoples and objects. His works in mixed media, sculpture, and installation engage with subjects related to colonization, structures of power, cultural interactions, and fluid identity, generating discussion around ideas of the self and notions of authenticity within the parameters of the nation-state. Ahmed’s work has been included in major group exhibitions internationally, including at the Sharjah Art Museum, 4th International Biennial of Casablanca (2018), 13th edition of the Biennial of Dakar – Dak’Art (2018), 13th Havana Biennial (2019), and 12th edition of the Bamako Encounters – African Biennale of Photography (2019-20).

This exhibition is presented in loving memory of Monica Zealand. By introducing me to her father, Dr. Terrance Zealand, she changed the whole trajectory of my life.

I dedicate this exhibition to my family (given and chosen): Rohaya, Afaf, Abdelhamid, Adel, Mohammed, Nader, and Omar; Claritza, Adel Jr., Zaina, Salma, Sophia, Leyana, and Nadia; Kathy and Jeffrey Glasser. And last but not least Celia.

Personal and intimate interventions by the following guided me in my development as an artist: Terrance Zealand, Henry Tancredi, Fabiana Lopes, Simon Watson, Habeeba Sultan, The House of Zidan.

Every artist needs a creative community. In friendship, I wish to recognize: Derrick Adams, Alia Ali, Anthony Alvarez, Heba Y. Amin, Shiraz Bayjoo, Gianluca Bianchino, Phoebe Boswell, Jeanne Brasile, Nicole Helen Brunner, Ashon Crawley, Jackie Cruz, Kevin Darmaine, Evonne Davis, Alexandra Desipris, Nadine Nour el Din, Jehan El-Tahiri, Mohamed Elshahed, Anna Ehrenstein, Walid Fredo, Rodney Gilbert, Deana Haggag, Amira Hanafi, Daniel Patrick Helmstetter, Amelia Herbert, Jesse Herdman, Skinder Hundal, Rebecca Jampol, Liz Johnson, Amanda Kerdahi, Ezra Khalil, Ibrahim Khatab, Lafawndah, M’hammed Kilito, Shaun Leonardo, Huda Lutfi, Larry Lyons, Flavia Malusardi, Chantel Inniss Mackin, Daniya Mayid, Tamieka Mcharris, Tynesha Mcharris, Benji Mendez Jr., Alexandra Morgan, Nadine Mosallam, Taraneh Naderi, Johari Newton, Tejmold Newton, Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Shantia Owens, Mary Helene Pereira, Sara Rahbar, Edwin Ramoran, Brian Rogers, Edgar Serrano, Nyugen Smith, Shoshana Weinberger, Jill Wickenheisser, Khalid Wildman, Noelle Lorraine Williams, Yohance Wright, Orlando Velez.

Thanks to the craftsmen from my neighborhood and the individuals who assisted in the creation of:

South x South: Samy Saad, Simon Mehari, Shams Abou Zeid

burn what needs to be burned (masks): Ali the Blacksmith, Musa.

Only Dreamers Leave: Abdo the Tailor, Khidr the Tailor, Abukhaled the Tailor, Adel the Embroiderer, Samy Saad

Does Anybody Leave Heaven?: Saber the Tailor

I will always be indebted to the love and patience of those whose entry points into my life helped me to witness necessary truths within me. I hope you know who you are.

I would like to thank galleries Tintera (founders Zein Khalifa and Heba Farid); Zanin Gallery (founder/director Sara Zanin and gallerist Angelica Gatto); Gallery Nosco (founder Cyril Moumen).

 

ㅡ Ibrahim Ahmed, July 2021

Press

Feature: It Will Always Come Back To You at ICA VCU

Burnaway

Apr 19, 2021

Installation View – Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

ContemporaryAnd

Apr 19, 2021

The exhibition features a large new ICA-commissioned sculpture and a selection of textile-based sculpture, painting, and photo collages produced by Ibrahim Ahmed since 2013, delving into themes related to colonization, power structures, cultural interactions, and the fluidity of identity.

Gently Erotic Photo Collages That Explore Migration and Masculinity

AnOther

Apr 19, 2021

Ibrahim Ahmed’s new solo exhibition at the ICA includes the Giza-born artist’s photo-collage series about his self-release from limits of male performativity.

Artist Ibrahim Ahmed explores colonialism and identity in US solo exhibition

Arab News

Apr 19, 2021

The show features a thematic selection of Ahmed’s work from 2013 to 2020, produced using a variety of media, including primarily textile-based sculpture, painting and photo collage exploring issues related to migration, colonialism and the Global South.

Ibrahim Ahmed,

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

ContemporaryAnd

Apr 19, 2021

The first solo museum exhibition of Cairo-based artist Ibrahim Ahmed, It Will Always Come Back to You presents a thematic selection of his work from 2013 to 2020 in a variety of media, including primarily textile-based sculpture, painting, and photo collage. The exhibition also features a new large sculpture commissioned by the ICA.

ICA at VCU to present first solo exhibition by Cairo-based artist Ibrahim Ahmed

VCU News

Apr 19, 2021

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University will present the first solo museum exhibition of work by Cairo-based artist Ibrahim Ahmed July 23 through Nov. 28.

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale

Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You

Exhibition view Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, Markel Center, Royall Forum, "Ibrahim Ahmed: It Will Always Come Back to You," (Jul 23, 2021 - Nov 7, 2021). Photo: David Hale