Here and Elsewhere
NEW YORK • New Museum • Until 28 September 2014
|Here and Elsewhere, the first museum-wide exhibition in New York City to feature contemporary art from and about the Arab world. The exhibition brings together more than forty-five artists from over fifteen countries, many of whom live and work internationally.|
The exhibition borrows its title from a 1976 film-essay by French directors Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, and Anne-Marie Miéville. Their film, Ici et ailleurs [Here and Elsewhere], was initially conceived as a pro-Palestinian documentary, but evolved into a complex reflection on the ethics of representation and the status of images as instruments of political consciousness.
Taking inspiration from Godard, Gorin, and Miéville’s film—which has had a strong impact on an entire generation of artists in various Arab countries—“Here and Elsewhere” pays particular attention to the position and role of the artist in the face of historical events. An example of personal reportage can be found in the short videos produced and distributed by Abounaddara, a collective of self-taught filmmakers dispersed throughout Syria, as well as in Bouchra Khalili’s video portraits, which reveal the clandestine journeys of migrants seeking to enter Europe.
Artists such as Hrair Sarkissian, Lamia Joreige, and Hassan Sharif undertake experimental approaches to archival material, rewriting personal and collective traumas, and weaving fragments both real and imagined into their work. Sharif, a conceptual artist in Dubai, works by accumulating surplus materials and found objects, but in contrast to the archaeological pursuits of other artists, his catalogues of manufactured goods reflect on globalized production and consumption. Ala Younis presents a visual essay, an exhibition within the exhibition, in which artworks, archival materials, and objects from popular culture are combined to analyze the representation of the Palestinian struggle within the historical context of Pan-Arabism.
For other artists, traditional mediums like painting, drawing, and sculpture record subtle and intimate shifts in awareness.
A number of pieces on view prompt a reflection on images as spaces of intimacy, such as the works of studio photographer Hashem El Madani, which through the research and efforts of artist Akram Zaatari, reveal the construction of identity at a time when studio photography flourished as a powerful and prolific site of individualized image-making.
Here and Elsewhereis accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue coedited with Negar Azimi and Kaelen Wilson-Goldie of Bidoun magazine.
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