MESOPOTOPOGRAPHY – solo exhibition at Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery

Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery is pleased to present

MESOPOTOPOGRAPHY – a solo show by Amir Fattal

Opening reception on Thursday, April 30 2015 at Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery, Potsdamerstr. 98a (2nd courtyard), 10785 Berlin from 6 to 10 pm.

 Exhibition: 1st of May – 20th of June 2015

Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 12 – 6pm and by appointment

Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery is pleased to announce MESOPOTOPOGRAPHY, the first solo exhibition of Israeli born artist Amir Fattal with the gallery. In MESOPOTOPOGRAPHY Fattal continues his research into cultural and historical memory in the context of architecture and its destruction. The exhibition deals with recent events in Iraq and Syria, specifically the destruction of world heritage architecture and religious sites. Fattal is of Jewish Babylonian descent, his parents were both born and raised in Baghdad and moved to Israel in the early nineteen-fifties, making him first generation Israeli. The work exhibited here is a starting point of a bigger music installation that Fattal has been developing over the past year: that deconstructs different elements of Iraqi music and follows the traditional classical Maqam music from the 1930s and 1940s. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue and an essay by curator and writer David Eliot.

Similar to his previous work, the exhibition concentrates on the meeting point between political and aesthetic narratives. The work combines different images from Arab news media like Al Jazeera and private citizens’ organizations, that document the dissolution and destruction of modern Iraq as a multicultural state, together with images and laser scans taken at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, where many of the region’s artefacts are archived and displayed. Recent events where militant groups have been destroying their own heritage has reopened the debate over whether Western museums should be returning disputed artefacts to the lands of their origin. The exhibition includes a series of silk-screens on aluminium, 3D printed reliefs, a video installation based on a laser scan, and a large installation printed on fabric.

In the series of silk-screens on aluminium and 3D printed reliefs, Fattal uses images from the Internet and turns them into modern reliefs and plates. By using these media images together with icons or Arab news sources, their take on events and the construction of their narrative is put into question. The work deals with the way the Arab media has been reporting on such events, many times using the footage taken by the perpetrators themselves. The use of 3D printed reliefs in the installation Frieze synthesizes ancient aesthetics with modern technology to investigate the way victory is being portrayed today – using digital media in order to gain global attention or for propaganda. In times past, the frieze was used by empires to depict scenes of glorious victory over other nations. The second part of the prints shows a two faced lion, based on the frieze from the Pergamon museum, which symbolizes the two –faced or ambivalent approach that the West has adopted towards the Middle East regarding their recent policies. The video installation Terrain is a laser scan of the same lion made at the Pergamon museum and turned into a digital animation.  It shows the cracked surface of the relief from a bird’s-eye point of view, reminiscent of a drone or a plane going over a terrain’s topography. The animation is overlaid with a single shadow of something similar to a cross, an airplane or a target mark moving over the landscape texture. The installation Coverage continues the theme of media representation in the Middle East. It is made out of thirty-six pieces of fabric, hung together like a big screen or curtain showing the symbol of the Al Jazeera news media over an Arabesque background. Each piece on its own is similar to a flag or a scarf.

Excerpt from ‘The Rape of Memory’ by David Elliott:

Coverage more than a play on words, is the title of the large fabric work with which this exhibition concludes.  Decorative, geometric arabesques uniformly cover thirty-six differently coloured pieces of fabric, roughly the size of a scarf, a flag or a towel; over each of them the enlarged logo of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network is silkscreened.  Shown together they create the impression of a screen of almost impenetrable tracery, or a curtain, a barrier. With a reputation for accurate, unbiased reporting from the Middle East and worldwide, Al Jazeera is acknowledged as providing a balancing view from that of the Western media.  Broadcast in English, and a number of other languages, as well as Arabic, it has developed an authoritative voice.  But like all powerful bodies, it is subject to criticism and, for the artist, the suspicion lingers that covering the news from whatever perspective necessarily means concealing facts or views, particularly when this relates to issues of gender and religion (the scarf) or nation (the flag).  These not necessarily vexatious but complex issues have, in the pressure cooker of concealed interest and fundamentalism of all kinds, become flattened, simplified and reduced to appear as little more than faint impressions on different sides of the same worthless coin.”

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