Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce People, Land, State, a solo exhibition of video, sculpture and works on paper by Shimon Attie.
First coming to prominence in the 1990’s with his powerful installations across Europe using a variety of media including on-location slide projection and underwater light boxes, Attie incorporated the surfaces of architecture and water to explore issues of memory and lost histories of the Second World War. In this new series he has turned his attention to the Israeli - Palestinian conflict, but through a dissection of the complexity and insanity of national identities rooted in contested claims and histories. Returning to video as well as utilizing materials that are new to his practice such as marble, lenticular printing, letterpress and Braille, Attie creates an aesthetic language that goes beyond political ideology in artful, tactile and expressive forms.
Near Miss is a two channel version of MetroPAL.IS, an eight-channel installation commissioned and shown by the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in 2011. Spending months studying the Israeli and Palestinian Declarations of Independence, Attie identified both the most salient commonalities as well as the differences, through which he created a hybrid Declaration. The video presents two ‘Jersey girls’, two drag queens, two businessmen and two MTA workers reading from the text created by Attie. Each pair is represented by a member of New York’s Israeli community (reading words from the Israeli Declaration of Independence) and a member of New York’s Palestinian community (reading words from the Palestinian Declaration of Independence).
The actors speak in unison when words and phrases overlap, plentiful because these two documents in their original forms are alarmingly similar in both hopeful and tragic ways. Attie writes, “I wanted to engage each group’s shared secondary hybrid identity –that of being New Yorkers- in order to oxygenate the frozen narrative between these two communities. I also wanted to explore the mutability of layered identities, communal affiliation, and national aspiration, and to defy expectations of what it means to be an Israeli, a Palestinian, and a New Yorker, and by extension, an American.”
In Declaration Untitled (Blended Israeli and Palestinian Declarations of Independence, abbreviated), Attie employs the antiquated practice of letterpress to further complicate the subject matter through visual seduction and the aura of the human hand. In Double Talk (People, Land, State), Attie moves into working with the original Declarations, using text and subtle color, to both bridge and delineate the two documents by highlighting the three nouns most in common between them.
Born in the United States but having lived in Israel and having spent some of his formative years in the Middle East, as well as coming from a family of Arab Jews, Attie identifies with the seemingly dichotomous Arab/Jew binary firsthand. Always having rooted his practice in exploring facets of identity and social history, this work examines historic ties as much as it does a common yearning for home as well as self-determination. Working in a poetic register through text, fable, history and experience, the work propagates circularly, returning home, to New York and to ourselves.
Shimon Attie was born in Los Angeles, California and lives and works in New York City. In addition to having been exhibited at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, his solo exhibition, MetroPAL.IS, will be on view at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH in early 2013. His work is represented in private and public collections worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, the Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, The Berlin Museum, Berlin, Germany and The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.