International arts non-profit RUYA MAPS to launch October 2018


This October will see the launch of RUYA MAPS, a non-profit organisation which will work with visual artists in areas of social or political instability globally. A sister organisation of the Iraq-based Ruya Foundation, best known for commissioning the Iraq Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, RUYA MAPS will work with artists from countries around the world. The programme will launch with an exhibition of Venezuelan artist Pepe López at the Fitzrovia Chapel, London running from 14 October – 26 October 2018.

RUYA MAPS’ diverse programme will combine a series of international exhibitions, introducing culture generated in areas of discord to new global audiences, with accessible projects taking place in areas currently or recently affected by political or military conflicts, including refugee camps. Projects will include artist commissions, workshops, talks and collaborations with local initiatives. RUYA MAPS will also produce original digital content, as well as print publications, to further expand the reach of its activities.

The overall aims of the programme are to enable artists working in areas of discord to participate in international cultural exchange and to encourage a wider understanding of global challenges through the testimony of real-time, creative witnesses. RUYA MAPS is designed to address specific needs, identified by the Ruya Foundation whilst carrying out its unique work in Iraq, that were found to be applicable internationally.

The Ruya Foundation is the only organisation working with contemporary Iraqi artists on the ground in the country and the development of Iraq’s contemporary cultural landscape has been hindered by years of military and political unrest. RUYA MAPS will examine the impact of military and political unrest on culture in territories internationally. The full programme for 2019 will be announced this autumn.

Pepe López: Crisálida

The Fitzrovia Chapel, London

14 October – 26 October 2018

RUYA MAPS’ inaugural project will be an exhibition of work by Venezuelan artist Pepe López (b.1966). ‘Crisálida’ (trans. chrysalis) will be López’s first solo exhibition in the UK and will showcase the artist’s large-scale installation of the same name, originally shown at Espacio Monitor, Caracas in October 2017.

The installation is 18 metres in length and is composed of 200 objects wrapped in polyethylene film. Originating from the artist’s family home in Caracas, the objects include a car, a motorcycle, a piano and an urn, as well as books, tools, toys and maps. Their methodical arrangement suggests an imminent move or the need for storage. Examining notions around cocooning and mummifying, the work explores the powerful emotional charge of being uprooted or exiled and references the particular social drift extant in Venezuela, a country that has experienced near consistent political instability since the 1980s.