Exhibition Dates: 30th March – 12th May 2018



Private View: Thursday, 29th March 2018, 18:00 - 20:00


Curator: Najlaa El-Ageli 


Artists:  Najat Abeed, Mohammed Abumies, Huda Abuzeid, Mohamed Al Kharrubi, Takwa Barnosa, Mohamed Ben Khalifa, Najwa Benshatwan, Alla Budabbus, Malak Elghwel, Elham Ferjani, Yousef Fetis, Hadia Gana, Ghazi Gheblawi, Reem Gibriel, Jihan Kikhia, Marcella Mameli-Badi, Guy Martin, Arwa Massaoudi, Khaled Mattawa, Tawfik Naas, Laila Sharif, Najla Shawket Fitouri, Barbara Spadaro and Adam Styp-Rekowski.


P21 Gallery is proud to present the 'Retracing A Disappearing Landscape' interdisciplinary exhibition, curated by Najlaa El-Ageli. With visual artworks, installations, film, photography and presentations, it explores memory, personal history and collective narratives relating to modern day Libya, involving the participation of over 25 contemporary artists and professionals.


The first of its kind internationally, this six-week exhibition will explore people’s direct experience of and fascination with memory and personal history relating to modern day Libya. It will consider also the contested question of whether or not there is a collective national identity. With the mixed input of the artists -including film material provided by British Council Libya - this will be an eye-opener for special guests and the general British public.

The visual elements start with the archetypal memories associated with the traditional Libyan family album, showing images and scenes from personal archives that go as far back as the early 1900s. Whilst the second segment will feature especially commissioned installations that aim to stand as temporary repositories and witnesses to the country’s history, as well as constructing new narratives. They will be for both viewing and audience interaction.

Viewers will notice that the capital city of Tripoli is a recurring monumental backdrop found in the artworks and installations, wherein the city’s past, its signposts and architecture become intermingled with the artists’ stories and their attempt to capture and retrace the city’s disappearing and ever-changing landscape.

The raw history of the entirety of Libya will also come into view with reflections on its many uncomfortable episodes, including: the colonial period and existence of Italian concentration camps, the current migrant crisis, the shifting urban landscapes, the suffering under dictatorship for 42 years and the turbulent post-revolutionary period.

Looking at the known and unknown memories of Libya as a homeland through the work of its citizens – both at home and abroad - the country is revealed to be a powerful force in their lives, as it is still carried in their hearts, thoughts and collective psyche. By sharing their experiences, it is hoped to develop an intelligent and meaningful discourse on what Libya represents for its people and the hopes that exist for its future.

Running in parallel to the visual exhibition will be an extensive programme of discussions and presentations that will be held at the P21 Gallery. These will host Libyan and non-Libyan artists, academics, writers, poets and researchers who will delve deeper into some of the pertinent topics regarding Libya’s artistic, intellectual, cultural and historical landscapes.

‘Retracing A Disappearing Landscape’ is generously supported and funded by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), DARF Publishers and private individuals. 



Noon Arts Projects: Circa 2012 Najlaa El-Ageli founded Noon Arts, a small private arts foundation, to explore the new burgeoning Libyan arts scene and creative movement. The aim was to spot and nurture the work of talented local artists and bring it to the international stage. 

After curating several successful exhibitions featuring contemporary Libyan art in the UK, Libya and Malta, another big project came in 2015 when Noon Arts was commissioned to curate the Imago Mundi Libya catalogue for the Benetton Foundation based in Italy. 

Soon after Najlaa began to liaise with other artists from the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that led to, for example, the ‘Textural Threads’ exhibition, done in collaboration with Arts Canteen. This featured the work of six emerging female artists from the Arab world, as part of the Arab Women Artists Now (AWAN) Festival in March 2016.

Most recently in November 2017, Najlaa also co-curated the ‘Pop Art from North Africa’ exhibition in London that gathered the exciting output of fifteen creative individuals from North Africa inspired by the Pop Art movement. This latest show welcomed over two thousand visitors to the P21 Gallery, who came to view the artworks and attend the parallel programme of talks and presentations.


The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC): Founded in 2007, AFAC envisions a thriving Arab art and cultural scene, one that is confident in its expression, open to dialogue, accessible to all and sustained locally by committed patrons.

Two fundamental principles guide AFAC’s mode of work: transparency in the grant giving process and independence through a diversity of funding sources.


DARF Publishers: Established in 1980 in London, this publishing house focuses on books about Libya, the Middle East and the Arab World in English, as well as translating world literature for English audiences. It is an imprint of Dar Fergiani, which was a major Arabic publishing house that operated in Libya in the 1950s. It now operates with two bookshops in London.



For further exhibition information, press images and interview opportunities, please contact the gallery:, or Nahla Al Ageli: E-mail:




Supported by:  AFAC:  The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, British Council, Noon Arts Projects  & DARF Publishers