At the heart of Oraib Toukan’s work we find a determination to challenge the great contemporary geopolitical principles. To this end she manipulates maps, authentic documents and official objects.
Equity Is in the Circle subverts key notions of market economics. This installation presents the extreme idea of auctioning off the countries of the Middle East under a hundred-year leasehold, through a company called Nayruz . The work comprises documents from the worlds of business and marketing, presented on different supports. Thus:
- Costing a Nation is a set of one hundred framed sheets of A4 paper offering detailed economic assessments of the states and territories that are for sale.
- A catalogue in the style of those put out by Christie’s for its auctions presents the countries as lots in a sale, detailing their characteristics.
- Reworking Ammar, a series of advertising spreads, presents typical views (megacities in the desert, petrol wells and artificial islands) in bright, glossy photographs of an idealised Middle East, combined with slogans encouraging private buyers.
- The logo of the project, Own it™, with its luxury, cosmological connotations, inspires the beholder with the desire to possess.
- Talking Heads, shows an institutional film consisting of a group of interviews with experts: media and communications strategy consultants, economists, diplomatic advisers, etc., regarding the feasibility of the given project.
By taking neo-liberal principles literally, the artist in fact catches the system out with its own rules and reveals their potential absurdity. She imagines a public territory disappearing behind the privatisation of space, thus pointing to the possible failure of the idea of the common good as an inalienable value.
Translated by Charles Penwarden
 This word refers to a precious stone but also to the New Year in Iran and for Christian Copt communities.