23 December 2011

What's up for two more days, v.2, I mean one more day

Because the Saturday gallery hours are being eliminated this weekend so that the tent cities in the urban centers can be cleared out by authorities and replaced with sculptures of a manger in a gated community with a baby in swaddling clothes, my Two Days Left column culled from wanderings a few days ago has been reduced to a One Day Left, which means you have only tomorrow to see the haunting images of the Iraqi Halim Al Karim in his NYC debut at Stux (530 W 25th), who says "the main challenge for me is to identify and stay clear of the historical and contemporary elements of brainwashing" and "nobody in Iraq hasn’t lost somebody or at least part of their own character." From the gallery press release: "During the Iran-Iraq war, Halim’s family was forced out of their home in Baghdad. Halim was unwillingly conscribed to serve in the Iraqi military during the first Gulf War, which the artist describes as, 'a fearfully lonely and harrowing journey.' Halim Al Karim soon escaped the military and sought refuge in a rock-covered hole in the southern Iraqi desert. He attributes his physical and emotional survival to an elderly Bedouin woman who brought him food and water, as well as educated him about mysticism and gypsy customs. Aided by this wise and kind stranger, the artist retreated to a deeply meditative state that enabled him to distance his memory from the atrocities of war. He emerged from seclusion on occasion, refusing to disclose his whereabouts to his friends or family for fear of jeopardizing his family and his own safety.

".... Hidden ... incorporates the Sufi concept of 'al-batin' in Arabic, one of the ninety-nine names of Allah that denotes 'truth' when recited. The series references the artist’s perspective that humanity is best preserved from brutal acts of violence when an inner focus is maintained and hidden from view. A number of works within the theme are covered with a tightly stretched sheer scrim of white or black silk; this compositional device represents a transcendental portal to the subconscious, where the serene human form latently lies protected underneath." (pdf)

As to whether you should check out Nan Goldin's Scopophilia show (522 W 22 Street) all you need to know is that it has been banned from a Rio de Janeiro museum because of works like this one, that one, this one and that one, utilizing the Baudelarian method of juxtaposing paintings at the Louvre that she photographed during off hours with the contemporary folks from her own photographic oeuvre. Piri' Miri Muli' readers are accustomed to theoretical concepts mentioned here in passing becoming trendy in a year and a half's time but this approach more likely drew some inspiration from Chris Marker's project over the last half decade about which he noted “Cocteau used to say that at night, statues escape from museums and go walking in the streets," one painting making it into both shows. Goldin takes the technique in an expanse of directions and adds a slide show recounting the stories of Narcissus and Theseus.

No comments: