'A Picture of War is Not War', we read in Hito Steyerl's iconic film November (2004), an essayistic Super 8 film tackling the definition of terrorism constructed around the figure of the artist's best friend Andrea Wolf, who was killed as a terrorist in 1998 in Eastern Anatolia after she joined the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party). Mixing documentary...
There has been a flurry of triennial and biennial art activity in Japan this year. The Aichi Triennale opened in Nagoya this August, sparking a national debate about the shutting down of a display of formerly censored works—the result of public backlash against a burnt image of Emperor Hirohito and a statue commemorating the women forced into...
Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...
Anat Ebgi is pleased to announce a group exhibition featuring works by Jordan Nassar, Faith Ringgold, Salman Toor, and Cosmo Whyte. The exhibition will be on view from June 8th through July 13th.
The exhibition takes its name from James Baldwin's 1953 novel Giovanni's Room, the story of a young man's placelessness as a queer American abroad. The protagonist's conflicted sense of self and identity becomes his only source of connection to the feeling of home. He explains, 'home is not a place, it is an irrevocable condition.'
Despite the inexplicable and elusive nature of one's sense of placelessness, it is a heavy bindle slung over one's shoulder as one presses forward. Within this context of cultural estrangement and hybridity, communities have been built. Thus the exhibition looks not to the difficulties faced by outsiders making home in America, rather these artists explore the joy and power found within the spaces that they have created.
'Go back to where you started, or as far back as you can, examine all of it, travel your road again and tell the truth about it. Sing or shout or testify or keep it to yourself: but know whence you came.'(1)
As if through a kaleidoscope, the artists work reveal the endless colours and shades of emotions within this country's conflicted society and history. With Faith Ringgold's series, 'Coming to Jones Road', the artist follows a 200 year narrative of a group of slaves headed north which ends in her modern day home on Jones Road in Englewood, New Jersey. With this series she 'tried to couple the beauty of this place with the harsh realities of its racist history to create a freedom series that turns all of the ugliness of spirit, past and present into something livable.'
Salman Toor's explorations of figuration as a young queer of Pakistani origin living in America depict his ambiguous subjects to be revelling in the presentation of their found community. The imagined scenarios and characters parade their bodies, unashamed, donning feather boas and rivers of tears. The intimacy of these moments belies the staged narratives and envelope the boys in celebration of their most private experiences. Cosmo Whyte, whose large scale drawings pose the celebratory body of Jamaican and diasporic communities, shares the desire to present jubilation. His figures, adorned with gold leaf and black glitter, defy their colonial past, tearing it from their bodies through unbridled dance.
The soft and contemplative works of Jordan Nassar look back to the landscape of his family's homeland. Using the traditional Palestinian craft of embroidery, he portrays the idealised and fictionalised space that has come to represent home in the minds of the diaspora—one that doesn't and never did exist. The same celestial bodies in Nassar's skies hang heavy in Ringgold's. We moved along as if in one body hardly knowing where we was goin, our way lit only by a chalk-white moon in a blood red sky.(2)
Each of these artists disrobe America of its myths—and unveil the complicated and tedious nature of being an American. The works included in the exhibition celebrate the dissonance of loving the home they've found while championing, as Baldwin notes, '...the right to criticise her perpetually.'(3) For each moment of peaceful stillness, there is the arduous fight. Living well, building and supporting a community, and sharing one's story are all forms of protest. To exist as an other in this country is the most meaningful and profound act of resistance.
1 - Baldwin, James. (1953). Go Tell It on the Mountain.
2 - Ringgold, Faith. (1999). Coming to Jones Road Part I.
3 - Baldwin, James. (1955). Notes of a Native Son.
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