press release

« The fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil »(1) happens over and over every day somewhere or other, sending back its now distant echoes through the sanitized filter of the media image. Utopias gone astray, political and/or religious forms of authoritarianism, repression and violence on minds and bodies melt into the magma of current affairs. As an alternative to prevalent information, artists are raising the question of their role, the scope of their engagement. As actual players rather than witnesses, they ensure a form of transmission that goes beyond textual and literal demands.

Lida Abdul (Afghanistan) and Tania Bruguera (Cuba) respectively engage in a reflection on their country’s situation, and tackle performative art head on, bringing their body into play and putting a political slant on what they have to say. Between the experience of exile and regular returns home, they address the question of one’s roots, one’s cultural identity, displacement, and take on a role of player-cum-transmitter that extends well beyond the context of their own country. Performances or installations, whatever the preferred device, Lida Abdul and Tania Bruguera break with the distancing of images ; we are destabilized, disturbed, and flip for a while into a cathartic, albeit pretty artificial experience.

Here for the first time in a joint exhibition, they stress the importance, now more than ever, of questioning images, casting doubt on and subverting the dominant and official rhetoric.

Emily Jacir and Renaud-Auguste Dormeuil, each in their own way, carry on this incitement to vigilance, this questioning of the notion of commitment. Disregarding frontiers and periods, their reflection on the refugee figure evokes control and constraints brought to bear on people and bodies, separation and uprooting.

1 – Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, quoted by Giorgio Agamben, Ce qui reste d’Auschwitz, Rivages poche / Petite Bibliothèque, Paris, 2003.


Now, Here, Over there
Lida Abdul / Tania Bruguera
Renaud Auguste Dormeuil, Emily Jacir