Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde is pleased to announce its March 2021 exhibition, Out of Place. A group show featuring works by Vikram Divecha, Mohammed Kazem, :mentalKLINIK, Haleh Redjaian, Hassan Sharif, and Raed Yassin, Out of Place examines our place in an ever-shifting world, suggesting that we can be out of place in space in much the same way we are out of sync with time.
“Contemporariness is, then, a singular relationship with one’s time, which adheres to it and, at the same time, keeps a distance from it.” Giorgio Agamben, What is the Contemporary? (2008)
Just as Agamben upends the idea of ‘contemporary’ as simultaneity, the exhibition frames our disconnect with space, illustrating how we are out of joint with space while being fully within it. Out of Place fathoms this distance through works that see space either as illusory, ephemeral, or at times, somewhat contradictorily, constructed by its own material cast-offs.
Raed Yassin describes his 2020 video performance Humming in Abandoned Places as a “eulogy for our times.” Specific spaces—the chapel, the theatre, a stairwell—of an abandoned pulmonology hospital complex outside of Berlin are delipidated witnesses to a collective act of humming. Drawn as much from research on echo as from sensitivity to how the personal act of humming becomes contagious, the video casts the performers as a kind of soothing resonant sculpture. Ultimately, this is a gesture of transient healing—a seemingly insignificant act in a vanishing space that musters transformational power.
Other spaces are defined by the subtraction of their own components, the shedding of their own materiality. This loss ‘constructs’ rejection or negativity, which, in turn, critiques space-making itself. :mentalKLINIK’s installation ANOTHER LOVE_2001(2020), for example, evokes some gnarled party leftover— sullen bulbs cast a candy haze across tawdry disco balls, all enmeshed in a drunken tangle of wires sprawling up the wall. The work speaks to a post-space; it is a creepy remnant of an evacuated site that it still blindly tries to illuminate.
Places are also re-placed: what once constituted one space is enlisted in the construction of another. Vikram Divecha’s Negative Heaps (of designated waste) (2015) is an archive of discarded tiles, unused segments of an Islamic geometric-patterned mosaic lining a Dubai traffic underpass. The bits of waste are hand-numbered (as would be the actual tiles used in the final wall decoration), arranged in piles creating their own aesthetic pattern. The regimented heaps echo Hassan Sharif’s wall-bound Spare Parts (2016), itself an archive of the insignificant—a constellation of ‘replacement’ elements, meaningless without integration into a larger spatial or, in this case, mechanical whole.
Walls—the ubiquitous spatial parameters of our daily existence—are re-thought as ephemeral markers of a transient, vanished life, whether in Yassin’s crumbling lung hospital, or Divecha’s Demolition Monoprints (2021)—inky “on-site monoprints” of apartment walls in buildings slated for demolition.
Finally, Out of Place interprets the rigid “place-ness” of the wall as merely surface, or as some illusory conflation of volume and flatness. In Mohammed Kazem’s never-before-exhibited Receiving Light. Cincinnati (2018), the photographed wall is reduced to a surface which, scratched and pocked, attains a tactile dimensionality. Yet the works’ figurative source—the wall itself—morphs to a graphic support for the artist’s light-capturing engraving.
Haleh Redjaian’s ‘nomadic’ sculptures capture the wall at a moment of transition—hovering between invisible/visible. As such, the works are emblematic of Out of Place, unifying several conceptual strands: the ephemeral, in the works’ temporary, shifting perspective of space; re-imagined insignificance in the fragile thread’s hasty lifecycle as a ‘wall’; and resonance, in the repetitive, loom-like sonic charge latent in the spanned threadwork. Perhaps echoing Yassin’s contagious resonance, the machinal, “Philip Glass-y” (as the artist describes it) hum evoked by the work reinforces the sense of place not as a geolocational certainty, but as a site of illusion. And while space may articulate us—in the underpasses we navigate, the walls we skirt—we are nonetheless increasingly encouraged, like Agamben’s heroic figure, to be (and remain) out of place.