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When art imitates life.
"Qalandia 2087"

Sometimes you go to museums to revisit your favorite childhood characters, and sometimes you go for a gut-punching reality check.

Here and Elsewhere at the New Museum is the latter. It’s a five-floor takeover, spotlighting art from the Arab world. And it’s incredibly humbling.

Here, three reasons to add it to your must-see list:

The photography is stunning Though the exhibit aims to recognize individual subcultures of the Middle East, the overarching theme can’t help but be on the effects of war. Landscapes of rubble in Beirut and execution squares in Syria are sobering. But what struck a major chord with us was the series Saddam Is Here, featuring everyday Iraqis holding photos of Saddam Hussein’s face over their own.

The installations couldn’t be more timely Two different dioramas address refugee camps that have been turned into long-term housing complexes. One, Qalandia 2087, imagines future scenarios for the now-65-year-old Palestinian camp--that just so happens to be caught in the current crossfire.

You get a serious sense of perspective Sure, we see war journalism on the regular. But rarely are we privy to true artistic expression from these censored cultures. Oil paintings of lips behind barbed wires abound.

Through September 28; New Museum, 235 Bowery (at Prince St.); 212-219-1222 or

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