Opening on Thursday, October 17, 2019, 6:00pm

Exhibition dates: October 17, 2019 to January 18, 2020

Curated by Nora Razian

Participating artists: Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn, Mona Hatoum, INTERPRT, Candice Lin, Dala Nasser, and Jenna Sutela 

This exhibition presents six artists who seek to de-stabilize socially constructed approaches to both the human body and those other-than-human bodies that exist in and around it. Through video installations, sculpture, painting, and forensic documentation and imaging, the works presented aim to de-center the primacy of the human subject in relation to ecological thought and open up to exploring the entanglement of material and other-than-human social and political histories with our own. How can we read our history as one that is created by and with ‘others’, the other-than, or the more-than human? What is at stake in re-thinking the human, not as a singular liberal subject, but as an environment inseparable from other-than-human existences?

Curator's tour by Nora Razian: Friday, October 18th, 2019 | 5:00pm and Monday, October 21st, 2019 | 12:00pm 

Talk | Impunity in a Warming World by Nabil Ahmed (INTERPT): Friday, October 18th, 2019 | 6:00pm 

My Ailing Beliefs Can Cure Your Wretched Desires by Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn, 2017, Two-channel video installation (18’51’’), 1080p each channel, color, 5.1 surround sound

Told through the perspective of the spirit of the last Javanese Rhino, now extinct, the two-channel video installation, My Ailing Beliefs Can Cure Your Wretched Desires, dissects the relationships between Vietnamese mythology, the country’s political complexities, and the nation’s very special animal ecosystem. The complex systems of Vietnamese beliefs in the magical healing power of certain animals have led to the current global predicament that threatens the extinction of rhinos and other species, simultaneously fueling the extensive illegal trade in endangered animals.

Corps étranger by Mona Hatoum, 1994, Video installation with cylindrical wooden structure, video projector and player, amplifier and four speakers, 350 x 300 x 300 cm (137 3/4 x 118 x 118 in.)

Filmed using an endoscopic camera, Mona Hatoum’s seminal immersive video installation Corps étranger is a journey in and around the artist’s body. The tiny camera de-constructs the socially gendered female body, alienating it and making it un-readable and wholly un-graspable. The work is also a feminist critique of machinic vision and the medicalization of the body. Presented alongside works in this exhibition, the work merges feminist critiques with eco-feminist critique; extending the struggle over patriarchy to non-human lifeforms.

© Mona Hatoum. Courtesy of the artist

Race and Forest, INTERPRT (Nabil Ahmed), 2019, Text, sound documents

Case no. 1307/7150 at the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) sets one of the earliest precedences of prosecution for a war crime based upon environmental destruction. This case was filed in 1947 by Poland against eleven Germans for the destruction of Polish forests. Race and Forest is a multifaceted research and visualization project that traces the recent history of the Rzuchowski Forest, employed as a killing laboratory during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Using archival research as well as contemporary imaging and spatial analysis to study shifts in forest growth and use, the forest becomes a living archive of war crimes, making visible the ideology-driven environmental racism and climate politics of the Third Reich. At the same time, the installation draws attention to the violence of classification, where a process of brutal dehumanization renders others expendable, outside the sphere of justice. 

Salt Mountain by Candice Lin, 2019, Sound, oil paintings, Lebanese sea salt, sea water, pot, hot plate, video

Commissioned for this exhibition, Salt Mountain is a multipart installation that recounts incidents of toxicity within the landscapes of California and Lebanon. Six oil paintings, painted on site in Lebanon and depicting locations where chemical waste was reportedly dumped or buried, were produced using pigments containing lead, cinnabar (mercury sulfide), chromium, cadmium, and cobalt—pigments now discontinued due to their toxicity levels. The works reference Etel Adnan’s paintings of landscapes, most notably her recurrent paintings of Mount Tamalpais, home to a military base, barracks, and practice grounds. Sea water gathered from around Beirut and Tripoli slowly boils away to leave crystalline salt residue, used to replenish a sculpted mound of locally produced salt. The white landscape of salt mirrors a slowly growing mountain, referencing the Japanese tradition of bonkei, where landscapes are recreated at a small scale in a tray or trough using natural and artificial materials such as sand, gravel, pebbles, and pieces of wood. The videos and images projected upon it create ghostly, blurry images relating to a history and futurity of toxicity. An accompanying text-based audio piece weaves together semifictionalized stories of demons, yeast, cats, and parasites to think about our porous and entangled existence.

Commissioned for Home Works 8

Mineral Lick by Dala Nasser, 2019

Paintings made of salt, ash, discarded fabrics, water from water spillage sites around Beirut, and pigments extracted from shrubbery found at spillage sites.

Dala Nasser’s work is a process-based material experimentation, operating in the lineage of painting. Commissioned for this exhibition, Mineral Lick explores the network of water distribution within Beirut, mapping this against a matrix of corruption and sectarianism. Her large-scale hanging paintings are each dyed using flowers, plants, and materials gathered at sites of water capture and storage, and are exposed to mineral compositions particular to water collected from specific areas. These biologically active components collaborate to form deposits and hues that change over time.

Commissioned for Home Works 8

Holobiont by Jenna Sutela, 2018, Single-channel video projection (10’27’’), wall paper, black light, curtain

Holobiont considers the idea of embodied cognition on a planetary scale, featuring a zoom from outer space to inside the gut. The video documents Planetary Protection rituals at the European Space Agency, while exploring extremophilic bacteria in fermented foods as possible distributors of life between the stars, with Bacillussubtilis, the bacterium used to create the Japanese specialty nattō, playing a leading role.    

Nora Razian is Head of Exhibitions at the Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai where she has curated solo presentations by Mounira Al Solh, Farah Al Qasimi, and Chiharu Shiota, as well as oversaw the Jameel’s 2018 opening programme of exhibitions and publications. Previous roles include Head of Programmes and Exhibitions at Sursock Museum, Beirut, and Curator of Public Programmes at Tate, London. She has an MA in Anthropology and Cultural Politics from Goldsmiths, University of London, where she also designed and taught the MA course ‘Critical Pedagogy in Contested Space’ at the Centre for Arts and Learning. She has curated several solo and group exhibitions, including Phantom Limb (2019) at Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai; Let’s Talk About the Weather: Art and Ecology in a Time of Crisis at Sursock Museum (2016) and Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou  (2018); and Maha Maamoun: The Law of Existence (2017), Hrair Sarkissian: Homesick (2017), Ali Cherri: A Taxonomy of Fallacies (2016) and Adelita Husni-Bey: A Wave  (2016) at Sursock Museum. She has commissioned works by Claire Pentecost, Marko Peljhan, Ahmet Ogüt, Adrian Lahoud, Joana Hadjitomas and Khalil Joreige, and Monira Al Qadiri. She is co-editor of Elements for a World (Sursock Museum, Beirut), a series of five publications featuring specially commissioned texts and visual contributions responding to the current climate crisis through scientific, poetic, political, and speculative contributions, and The Future Citizen Guide (Tate, London), a series of contributions by artists and curators exploring changing notions of citizenship. 

Tuấn Andrew Nguyễn (b. 1976) works in film and sculpture and is co-founder of The Propeller Group. His work often explores the legacy of colonial violence in Vietnam and its repercussions globally, as well as strategies of political resistance through rituals, supernaturalism, and the impact of mass media on moments of resistance. Recent exhibitions include Sharjah Biennial 14 (2019); Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2016); the 56th Venice Biennale (2015); and the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2012). His work is part of the collections of the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Carré d'Art, Nîmes, France; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. He lives and works in Saigon, Vietnam.

Mona Hatoum (b. 1952) is an artist who lives and works in Berlin. Working across performance, video and installation, Mona Hatoum’s work is concerned with articulating how forms of power act on bodies and spaces, and with thinking around the ongoing occupation of Palestine and the condition of displacement. Her work often transforms everyday objects, such as household furniture, into foreign, strange and threatening forms—touching on the undertones of violence in everyday life.

INTERPRT is an independent research project founded by Nabil Ahmed that investigates environmental crimes using transdisciplinary research, architectural methodologies, and spatial analysis. Their work actively advocates for the special protection of the environment through international criminal justice, including the criminalization of ecocide under international law. Their current research focuses on the Pacific region, where they are investigating situations of ecological and climate ecocide.

Candice Lin (b. 1979) works across multiple media, producing complex installations that often incorporate biological matter. Her work is research-based, interdisciplinary, and historically referential, focusing on global and often colonial histories of objects and materials. Recent solo exhibitions include Portikus, Frankfurt; Bétonsalon, Paris; and Gasworks, London. Group exhibitions at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2017); New Museum, New York (2017); and SculptureCenter, New York (2017); among others. Her work was featured in the Hammer Museum’s 2018 biennial exhibition, Made in L.A. She is Assistant Professor at the Department of Art at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Dala Nasser (b. 1990) is an artist who lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut. Inspired by land art, textile, and craft, her work often includes reactive natural and chemical components. Her process is seen as collaborative with these non-human materials that produce shifts in the work over time. She received her BFA in Fine Arts with a focus in painting from the UCL Slade School of Fine Arts, London in 2016 and was awarded the Boise Travel Scholarship and the Sursock Museum’s 32nd Salon D’Automne Emerging Artist Prize. Recent exhibitions include Surface Tension, Sharjah Art Foundation (2019); Surface Work, Victoria Miro, London (2018); The Pain of Others, Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles (2018); and An unpredictable expression of human potential, ACT II of the Sharjah Biennial 13, Beirut Art Center (2017). 

Jenna Sutela (b. 1983) lives and works in Berlin. Sutela’s videos, installations, text, and sound performances work to identify and respond to precarious social and material moments, often in relation to technology. Most recently, she has been researching and working with Physarum polycephalum, the single-celled “many-headed” slime mold that is able to solve complex spatial calculations, as well as exploring the idea of ‘embodied cognition’. Sutela's work has been presented at MOCA, Toronto; Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; and Serpentine Galleries, London; among others. She is a 2019-20 Visiting Artist at The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST).