Cities Under Quarantine: The Mailbox Project, conceived and curated by Lebanese multidisciplinary artist Abed Al Kadiri of Dongola Limited Editions in Beirut, presents a personal and creative archive of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. A project born out of the pandemic’s enforced isolation, the initiative explores the polarities that defined this moment in history: life and death, certainty and uncertainty, safety and exposure, loneliness and friendship. Inspired by a quotation from artist John Baldessari about the difficulties of mailing a painting, Al Kadiri mailed books to artists in 22 cities around the world to solicit their creative expressions. On view are 59 handmade, hand-stitched books with bespoke covers designed by Reza Abedini, created in-house at Dongola. Artists Raed Yassin, Mahmoud Obaidi, Mona Saudi, Mohammad Kazem, Taysir Batniji, Faisal Samra, Ziad Dalloul, Dia Al-Azzawi, Hani Zurob, and Nadia Kaabi-Linke have used collage, photography, painting, drawing and other media to transform the books. In 2021, the project was given its debut at Villa Romana in Florence, Italy.
Press release from Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
Image: Installation view of Cities Under Quarantine: The Mailbox Project at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, 2023. Image courtesy of Ali Al Ansari