The Object Quality of the Problem: on the Space of Palestine/Israel
31 May – 26 July 2008
Galleries 1, 2 and 3
Responding to this very particular set of geo-political contexts and current affairs, this exhibition attempts to reconcile the two-dimensional nature of contemporary documentary art with the wider sculptural field.
The 'problem' is the use of space in Palestine/Israel, a conflict most often explored in the increasingly dominant medium of the moving image. However, this exhibition proposes that the quality of this problem has a strongly sculptural aspect. While the art-works displayed are two-dimensional - film and photography - the exhibition will extend the field to three dimensions by exploring the relationship of ‘new media’ (and indeed of news media) to sculptural practice, and of sculpture to current affairs. Can such a tangible medium still have currency in a digital age?
The fact that the works are largely time-based - one of the films lasts six hours - is highly significant; this is a geographical area in which space is intensely and unevenly occupied, and in which transit is variously slowed down or speeded up, according to who and where you are and how you travel. The space of Palestine-Israel is highly contested, and regulated not only horizontally, but also vertically, not only on the land but also above and below it in the air and sea. This matrix might be seen to provide the mould from which a shape can be cast; a shape which we might imagine over and over again - as it is continuously described in news reports - but can rarely fix in our minds.
The works in question - by artists Daniel Bauer, Eyal Sivan and Michel Khleifi, Emily Jacir, Lidwien van de Ven, Francis Alÿs and Yael Bartana - have a common focus on the ground. They are about the soil, about the landscape - its reality and its symbolism - and about the dirt. They are also about passage; about tracing a line, crossing the line, or enforcing a line. They are all, in their different ways, about the interpretation of space. The works may have been shown before, internationally and on occasion also in this country, but never in the context of a sculpture institute where questions of geo-politics might be unexpected. As a centre for the study of sculpture, the Henry Moore Institute continues to interrogate the status of the medium, here exploring how it might bring shape and form to a subject most often represented on a flat screen.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication with full details of the works, and short texts by Katrina Brown, Adania Shibli and Eyal Weizman, all of whom have helped curator Penelope Curtis in the preparation of the exhibition.
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