February 6, 2008 - Centre Pompidou - The Anxious
February 6, 2008

The Anxious

Yael Bartana, Omer Fast, Rabih Mroué, Ahlam Shibli, Akram Zaatari
The Anxious: Five artists under the pressure of war.

Curator Joanna Mytkowska
Assisted by Anna Hiddleston
February 13th – May 19th 2008


The exhibition The Anxious presents the works of five artists who share a sense of personal involvement in dealing with the subject of the war in the Middle East. They are artists of a younger generation able to translate the oppression of a conflict into an alternative language based on the critical analysis of its causes and background in a continual reflection upon the instruments of its representation.

As all generalisations and all attempts to build bridges between conflicting sides in the Middle East lack legitimacy, the personal viewpoint seems to be the best one. Hence the exhibition’s title, borrowed from the title of a novel by the Israeli-based Polish writer Leo Lipski, Niespokojni (The Anxious), where he describes the situation of artists on the eve of World War II, where their oversensitivity endows them with a premonition of the impending inferno.

The exhibition opens with a video projection by Yael Bartana (born in 1970 in Afula, Israel) installed in such a manner as to resemble an architectural but mobile frieze. Digitally manipulated monochromatic colours create the impression that the people moving across the mobile low relief are in military formation. The work can be construed as a metaphor of living in Israel where you simply cannot avoid references to tough political connotations and a militarised reality. In his 2007 installation The Casting, Omer Fast ((born in 1972 in Jerusalem, Israël) questions the impact of the televised spectacle of war. Carrying out a fictional or authentic casting for the most interesting war story, Fast conducts an interview with a US soldier who took part in operations in Iraq. We see the face of the artist and the spectacle’s participant on screen all the time, but we never learn whether we are watching an account of actual events or staged fiction. Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué (born in 1967 in Beirut) shows a video work Three Posters (2003) in which he asks questions about the possibility of representing events as dramatic as a martyr’s suicidal death. Overlapping with the issue of representation are complex questions about the transformation of the fighters’ underlying ideology from left-wing to Islamic, and the role of politicians who send the martyrs to death.

Two works have been specially conceived for the show and produced by the Centre Pompidou. Ahlam Shibli (born in 1970 in Palestine) presents her recently completed photographic series shot at the village of Al-Shibli. The pictures speak not so much about violence as about weakness and entanglement. Finally Akram Zaatari (born in 1966 in Saida, Lebanon) shows a new film where an ex-Lebanese resistant fighter meticulously retrieves and mends his military gear with the help of a younger assistant. Once dressed in his uniform, he resumes the identity of a soldier, although an ageing soldier who no longer has a war to fight. The uniform has lost its weight upon his shoulders, it is made redundant and leads to the question of who is the man beneath its layers and what were his motivations.

The Anxious – Five artists under the pressure of war
Ed. Anna Hiddleston and Françoise Bertaux
Collection Espace 315
Format 17 x 22 cm, 80 pp.
Bilingual French / English

25 JUNE – 29 SEPTEMBER 2008
Curator : Jean-Pierre Bordaz
As Winner of the 2007 Marcel Duchamp Prize, Tatiana Trouvé, an emergent artist who works all around the world, will be showing in the Espace 315.

Curator : Christine Macel
The internationally renown Mexican artist Damian Ortega is invited by Espace 315 for his first solo show
in Paris.

Centre Pompidou
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