The exhibition Mudun, Urban Cultures in Transit presents the varying dynamics and atmospheres of urban areas in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region through ten years of research and documentation by the Dubai-based magazine, Brownbook. These distinct mudun (‘cities’ in Arabic) include Ankara, Baghdad, Sharjah and Tangier, as well as the diaspora in Altach, Nashville, Santiago and Södertälje.
As a whole, this region’s rapid urbanisation has resulted in heterogenous city landscapes that oscillate between deeply rooted connections to tradition and an openness to globalisation and technological progress. Because of this tension the cities of the MENA region provide the grounds for a number of paradoxes – for individual opportunity and development, conflicts and injustice, for both the establishment and for subcultures, as well as for debates about identity and participation in the urban habitat.
After a decade of documenting contemporary culture in the MENA region, the Brownbook archive now provides the input and material for the development of this joint exhibition project. The resulting collaged presentation of photographs, text, audio and film offers a thorough and authentic reflection of the region’s multifaceted urban transition since the 1960s. Burnt clay models (made by designer Xeina Malki) representing a number of public buildings in this region also speak to an architecture that was created as a symbol of its time.
Mudun, Urban Cultures in Transit is an exhibition by Brownbook and the Vitra Design Museum that is travelling to the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.