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Almine Rech Gallery opens exhibition of works by Ziad Antar
Ziad Antar, Axiom 11, 2012. Ink jet on photographic archival paper, mounted on dibond, 120 x 120 cm., 47 x 47 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Almine Rech Gallery.

by Pascal Beausse


LONDON.- Ziad Antar photographs liminal places and things. His practice revolves around the ambivalence of the relationship between reality and its technological representation. He realises photo-sculptures or three-dimensional forms within the exhibition space through a succession of formalist paradoxes. Not unlike cast sculpture, photography is a direct imprint of reality. It offers a matrix from which counter-forms can be printed and therefore its process is comparable to that of moulding. At least, this is exactly what the artist’s experiments suggest, while playing with different forms of representation to create an image in between, that is, a sculptural transcription of a photograph at the limen of realism.

In Saudi Arabia, Ziad Antar has taken photographs of enigmatic sculptural forms on the Jeddah Corniche undergoing urban renovation. Made out of tarp and cordage, and not in the least concerned with aesthetics, these assemblages were installed to protect sculptures by Aref al Rayyes, Rabi Al-Akhras and, among others, Jean Arp, all of which had been commissioned in the 1980s. While these “camouflage” configurations may be reminiscent of Man Ray’s L’Énigme d’Isidore Ducasse and further evoke the informal vocabulary of contemporary sculpture, Ziad Antar has actually elevated their status to that of found art – or, in Raymond Hains’s words, ‘sidewalk sculptures’ – through the act of photographing them. In doing so, he has also humorously immortalized the gestures of the construction workers, who wrapped the public sculptures and thus involuntarily challenged the authority of modern art by giving the otherwise heteroclite ensemble an aesthetical unity negating the various Arab and Western artists’ abstract schemes. Once his photographs are taken, Ziad Antar has operated an additional translation from two-dimensional images back to three-dimensional objects in order to create new sculptural works and complete the cycle of formalist deductions and transfers, which informs the overall history of photo-sculpture. If the artist’s final sculptures have gained autonomy in the process, they nevertheless contain the memory of all the successive transformations that led to their actual shape from a modern paradigm to a vernacular, and ultimately contemporary, one.

A similar sculptural process is at play in Solanum Tuberosum, but on a different subject transitioning from agriculture to nature, and back again. Ziad Antar has been interested in the culture of potatoes for a long time, having previously filmed and photographed Lebanese farmers working in the Beqaa Valley. For his new installation, he has created a dialogue between a photograph, a sculpture and a document: namely, the portrait of a farmer holding freshly picked potatoes; a heap of very realistic concrete sculptures of potatoes installed in a corner next to the photograph; and a scientific manual, in which various names of tubers can be found. Thus, representation, presentation and knowledge are articulated and their respective discursive regimes complemented, while a purely ecosophical reflection is also developed through this work.

Indeed, Ziad Antar’s ongoing research on the culture of potatoes, which he has been undertaking from Lebanon, his native country, to Belgium and the Netherlands, is further concerned with the history of human and economic exchanges through time. One of the most crucial roles of the artist today consists in writing counter-histories by investigating subjects, like the journey of potatoes of their agricultural exploitation, which have been so far neglected, if not completely ignored. They may be marginal, yet they are central to the understanding of our world.






Today's News

April 17, 2017

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Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit arrives at the Heard Museum

Dresden State Art Collections opens two new permanent exhibitions in the Armoury in the Renaissance wing

The Met reunites Caravaggio's last two paintings in exhibition

Eli Wilner & Co. to hold lecture and exhibition on the design and function of the Orientalist picture frame

Kate O'Donovan Cook awarded major grant

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AD magazine and PIASA to stage auction of furniture conceived by artists, decorators and designers

Ancient sacred art resurrected in city of Jesus's birth

Felicja Blumental International Music Festival announces highlights from this year's edition

Peter Blum's first exhibition of works by the Swiss artist Sonja Sekula to open in New York

Almine Rech Gallery opens exhibition of works by Ziad Antar

Nara Roesler opens exhibition of works by Daniel Buren

Musicians chase fame on west Africa's musical islands

Heritage Museums & Gardens opens "Painted Landscapes: Contemporary Views"

Ronny Quevedo presents a series of new and site-specific works at the Queens Museum

Intuit celebrates Henry Darger's 125th birthday with new exhibition

Sleeping Beauty: Charlotte Jackson Fine Art opens group exhibition

mudac exhibits the work of Swiss designer David Bielander

Exhibition of new work by British artist Paul Johnson on view at Camden Arts Centre

Deborah Emont Scott named Louise Taft Semple President/CEO of the Taft Museum of Art

New exhibition celebrates affordable and accessible art

New, multi-sensory exhibition features work from growing collection of Latin American art

Exhibition at Rowan University Art Gallery explores the way the food system works

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