Shibli presents a selection of her works since 2001. Her images are anchored in current events, not through the urgency of a witness account but in the need to reestablish a critical distance through the profound transformation brought by a subjective regard. Lorna Simpson became known in the 1980s and 90s for her photographs and films that shook up the conventions of gender, identity, culture and memory.
curatd by Joan Simon, art critic
For her first European exhibition, the Jeu de Paume presents thirty years of Lorna Simpson’s work. For this Afro-American artist, born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1960, the synthesis between image and text is profound and intimate. If one were to consider Lorna Simpson as a writer, the textual element of her works could have an autonomous life as prose poems, very short stories or fragments of scripts. And yet, her texts are inseparable from her images; there is a dynamic between the two that is both fragile and energising, which links them unfailingly.
Lorna Simpson became known in the 1980s and 90s for her photographs and films that shook up the conventions of gender, identity, culture and memory. Throughout her work, the artist tackles the complicated representation of the black body, using different media, while her texts add a significance that always remains open to the spectator’s imagination.
In her recent work, Lorna Simpson has integrated archive images, which she reinvents by positioning herself in them as subject. As the artist underlines: “The theme I turn to most often is memory. But beyond this subject, the underlying thread is my relationship to text and ideas about representation.” (Lorna Simpson)
This retrospective reveals the continuity in her conceptual and performative research. In her works linking photography and text, as well as in her video installations, she integrates – while continually shaking them up – the genres of fixed and moving images, using them to ask questions about identity, history, reality and fiction. She introduces complexity through her use of photography and film, in her exploitation of found objects, in the processes she develops to take on the challenges she sets herself and to spectators.
The exhibition gathers her large format photo-texts of the mid 1980s, which brought her to the attention of the critics (Gestures / Reenactments, Waterbearer, Stereo Styles), her work in screenprints on felt panels since the 1990s (Wigs, The Car, The Staircase, Day Time, Day Time (gold), Chandelier), a group of drawings (Gold Headed, 2013), and also her “Photo Booths”, ensembles of found photos and drawings (Gather, Please remind me of who I am…).
The exhibition is also an opportunity to discover her video installations: multivalent narratives that question the way in which experience is created and perceived more or less falsely (Cloudscape, 2004, Momentum, 2010), among them, Playing Chess, a new video installation made especially for the occasion.
Lorna Simpson has participated in important international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (1990), Documenta XI (2002) and the Hugo Boss Prize Award at the Guggenheim Museum (1998), and solo shows in Madrid (1998), Kitakyushu (1999), Salamanca (2002), Dublin (2003), Berlin (2004), Toronto (2004–2005), Brooklyn New York (2011), and in 2006-2007 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Miami Art Museum, Whitney Museum of American Art New York, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (Michigan), and Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston.
curated by Carles Guerra, Marta Gili, João Fernandes and Isabel Sousa Braga.
The work of Ahlam Shibli (born in 1970 in Palestine) falls within the continuity of projects at the Jeu de Paume that propose new narrative forms in the field of documentary photography, as witnessed by the exhibitions devoted to Sophie Ristelhueber, Bruno Serralongue and Santu Mofokeng.
For her new exhibition in Paris, Ahlam Shibli presents a selection of her works since 2001. Her images are anchored in current events, not through the urgency of a witness account but in the need to reestablish a critical distance through the profound transformation brought by a subjective regard.
Ahlam Shibli’s work is composed of interrupted narratives, of fragments and ellipses, which obstruct the spectactor’s view and force him or her to renogotiate the relationship between the image and its reference, in other terms between aesthetics and politics.
The precision and the control of the spatial arrangement of her images, and the explanatory texts that the artist writes herself to accompany each series, sometimes each image, take into account the tension between “representation of the political and the politics of representation”, as T. J. Demos has written about her work.
The exhibition comprises photographs taken in Europe and the Middle East. For example, in Eastern LGBT (2004–2006), an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender, adopted by homosexual support groups, Ahlam Shibli works with people of Middle Eastern, Asian or Muslim origins who have had to leave their family or country because of the impossibility of living as they wished. In a foreign country, and sometimes only in nightclubs at weekends, they have found the conditions that allow them to be who they want to be.
Trackers (2005) shows Palestinians of Bedouin descent who have served or still serve as volunteers in the Israeli army. This work is a research into the price a colonized minority is obliged to pay to a majority of colonizers to be accepted or to survive, or perhaps both at once. As the artist explains: “The trackers are paid in cash, and three years after leaving the army, they are allowed to buy land from the Israeli State at a 75% discount. The lands that they buy are confiscated lands by the State of Israel from the people of their villages.”
Dom Dziecka. The House Starves When You Are Away (2008) is a photographic series taken in eleven Polish orphanages (dom dziecka in Polish), revealing the living conditions of children who grow up not in a family but in a care institution where normal family relationships have been both replaced and deplaced to create a specific new social body.
Trauma (2008–2009) is a reflection on the Politics of the term “Home”. Taking as a starting point the events of 7th to 9th June 1944 in Tulle (Corrèze, France), the work is built around the fact that a single and same population — sometimes even the same people, who resisted occupation by the Germans and suffered from their atrocities, waged a few years later colonial wars in Indochina and Algeria against peoples who in their turn claimed independence.
An Exhibition – An Event
Suite for exhibition(s) and publication(s), third movement
This exhibition, conceived by Mathieu Copeland, guest curator of the 6th Satellite program of the Jeu de Paume, examines the moment when the image becomes an abstraction of itself until it disappears in favor of the event. The event should be envisaged in its widest sense: a musical score of an event, a suggested reading, or an action that takes place in the ancillary spaces allocated to the Satellite program. Mathieu Copeland's proposal explores what happens in neutral contexts and how a formal presence is activated in them.
Invited artists: Mieko Shiomi, Maria Eichhorn, Tim Etchells.
The exhibition Ahlam Shibli. Phantom Home is organized and produced by the Jeu de Paume, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and Fundação de Serralves-Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto.
The exhibition Lorna Simpson is co-organized by the FEP – Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis, and the Jeu de Paume, in association with the Haus der Kunst, Munich.
The Fondation Nationale des Arts Graphiques et Plastiques contributes to the production of works of the Satellite program.
The Jeu de Paume is subsidized by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.
It is supported by Neuflize Vie, its principal partner.
Image: © Lorna Simpson. Five Day Forecast, 1988 [Prévisions à cinq jours] 5 épreuves gélatino-argentiques dans un cadre 15 plaques en plastique gravées, 62,2 x 246,4 cm. Collection Lillian et Billy Mauer
Carole Brianchon Tel 0033 (0)1 47031322 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeu de Paume
1, place de la Concorde 75008 Paris
Hours Tuesday: 11am – 9pm
Wednesday - Sunday: 11am – 7pm Closed Monday, including public holidays
Admission: 8,50 € Concessions: 5,50 €