Adel Abidin: I'M SORRY
Curated by Claudia Calirman
Adel Abidin I'M SORRY (2008)
Lyra Abueg Garcellano, Kwan Sheung Chi
Project Room (Through June 12)
OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, 20 May 2010, 6–8 PM
DATES: 21 May – 31 July 2010
HOURS: Tuesday - Saturday 12–6 PM
PANEL DISCUSSION: Thursday, May 27 at 7PM at Location One
Location One is proud to present I'M SORRY, a new exhibition by Adel Abidin, the artist's second solo
exhibition in New York City. Born in Baghdad in 1973 and living in Helsinki since 2001,
Abidin touches upon timely subjects such as fundamentalism, nationalism and religion.
The artist engages in a variety of media, working primarily with video installations and
short films. He assumes an ironic attitude in his deconstruction of prejudices and
stereotypes. How can an Iraqi-born artist face the war with a sense of humor? That is
exactly what his task entails.
The piece that gives the exhibition its title–a light box including a sound installation–comes from his experience as an Iraqi traveling in the U.S. In one of his trips, Abidin
encountered people from diverse social backgrounds. Yet, surprisingly, every time he
mentioned his nationality, the answer was invariably the same: "I’m sorry". Of course, this
reply comes as a double entendre: Are people sorry for themselves, for feeling guilty for
the infringements imposed by the U.S. on Iraq during the war, or are they sorry for the
artist’s fate of being born in such place? The shift of position between audience and self
is constantly present in his work.
Abidin’s witty criticism targets not only the U.S. invasion of Iraq but also Iraqi
fundamentalists’ actions which serve as a pretext to justify the foreign hate against the
country. In the video Jihad (2006), the artist explores a familiar scene shown in news
coverage: a videotape of an Islamist terrorist with his covered face holding a
Kalashnikov in his hands, reciting from the Koran a message of hate and death. Abidin
appropriates the image subverting it. He places the fundamentalist against a painted
background of a U.S. flag with its Stars and Stripes, reciting a verse from the Koran.
Unexpectedly, he picks up an acoustic guitar and sings “This Land is Your Land.” The
impact of the piece is immediate. What is the difference between beheading a Western
man in front of the cameras and singing a nationalistic American anthem? Ultimately
they can both function as U.S. propaganda pieces.
Panel Discussion on Adel Abidin’s exhibition I am Sorry, May 27, 7PM
This panel will address issues related to artists in the diaspora and current visual practices coming out of the Arab world to defy cultural stereotype and prejudice.
Thursday, May 27 at 7PM at Location One
Panelists: Adel Abidin, Carol Becker, Sam Bardaouil
Moderator: Claudia Calirman, Curator
In Location One's Project Room, Specific Gravity, new paintings by Lyra Abueg Garcellano, and video work by
Kwan Sheung Chi (through June 12)
"The cascading dreamers in Lyra's pictures have merely fallen from their bed to the
bedroom floor, from the rocky ridge to the grassy plateau, from the sofa to the carpet, the dream
making up most of the distance in their imagined descent."
-Jose Tence Ruiz "Old Paint"
Two new canvases and several collages, completed by Lyra Abueg Garcellano during her residency at Location One, are the centerpieces
of Specific Gravity on view in Location One's Project Room through June 12. Continuing her exploration of fallen bodies (sleeping? dreaming?),
the large scale works depict figures splayed on the ground, lush brushstrokes melding the backdrops with the drapery of the figures' clothing.
A skewed bird's eye view renders foreground and background practically indistinguishable, making it unclear whether the bodies have actually fallen or are actually
disembodied arms and legs floating toward the viewer.
Kwan Sheung Chi is obsessed with suicide–at least with feigning his own, repeatedly–in blackly humorous depictions that are
clearly designed to fail. The pseudo snuff films that comprise "Plan A-Z to End My Life" are a series of grainy black and white,
gorgeously shot videos chronicling alphabetically-organized, half-hearted attempts by the artist to off himself. That the series consists of
more than one "plan" presupposes its failure, which either ironically reaffirms life or mocks death–but more likely points to some
liminal (and dare we suggest: non-ironic?) position between the two.
Specific Gravity is on view through June 12, 2010
About the Artists:
Adel Abidin studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad and at the Academy
of Fine Arts in Helsinki receiving a MFA in new media in 2005. He represented Finland in the
2007 Venice Biennale Nordic Pavilion with the internationally acclaimed piece Abidin Travels:
Welcome to Baghdad. In 2010 he had a major solo exhibition at Kiasma, Helsinki’s Museum of
Contemporary Art. His work is represented in major museum collections in Finland and has
been featured in numerous exhibitions including On the Margins (2009, Kemper Art Museum, St.
Louis); and the 2008 Cairo Biennale. He has held many solo exhibitions throughout Europe,
Scandinavia and the Middle East.
Adel’s residency at Location One is supported by FRAME, the Fund for Art Exchange. http://adelabidin.com
Garcellano was born in 1972 in Manila, Philippines, and graduated from the Ateneo de Manila
University with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies (1994) and from the University of the Philippines
with a BFA (2000). She has held numerous solo exhibitions and was an artist in residence for the
Cemeti Art Foundation in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, which was made possible through the UNESCO-ASCHBERG
Bursaries for Artists in 2002. She has also participated in countless international group
exhibitions, including Post-Tsunami Art, Emerging Artists from Southeast Asia (2009, Milan, Italy),
Jakarta Biennale XIII (2009, Jakarta), Trauma Interrupted (2007, Cultural Center of the
Philippines); Balancing Act (2006, Future Prospects, Quezon City); Flippin’ Out: From Manila to
Williamsburgh (2005, Goliath Visual Space, NY); and the 2002 Gwangju Biennale. Garcellano is also an
accomplished illustrator of children’s books and is the author of a comic strip in a national daily
newspaper in the Philippines. Ms. Garcellano’s residency at Location One is supported by the Asian
Kwan Sheung Chi
was born in 1980, Hong Kong. He obtained a third honor B.A. degree in Fine Art from the Chinese
University of Hong Kong in 2003. In 2000 he was named the “King of Hong Kong New Artist”. In 2002
“Kwan Sheung Chi Touring Series Exhibitions, Hong Kong” was toured in 10 major exhibition venues in
Hong Kong. Within the same year, the Hong Kong Art Centre presented “A Retrospective of Kwan Sheung
Chi”. In 2003, he set up a studio in Fotan, and since then became an active member of the “Fotanian”
artist studios complex. From 2004 he became a nine-to-fiver in Central. He has never participated in
any major exhibitions held internationally. In addition to his studio practice, he has created a
web-based channel, entitled HKADC (Hong Kong Arts Discovery Channel) which aims to promote critical
discourse through interviews with artists, curators, critics and the audiences. He is also a
founding member of local art groups, hkPARTg (Political Art Group) and Woofer Ten, both of which
focus on experimental practicing of art in relation to local politics, social issues and
communities. In 2009, Kwan Sheung Chi's residency at Location One is supported by the Asian Cultural Council. http://kwansheungchi.com
Location One is extremely grateful to FRAME: Finnish Fund for Art Exchange, The Asian Cultural Council, OneArtWorld.com, and The
New York State Council on the Arts for making this exhibition and the artists' residencies
ABOUT LOCATION ONE
Based in the Soho arts district of New York, Location One is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to fostering new forms of creative expression and cultural exchange through exhibitions, residencies, performances, public lectures and workshops. Traditionally focused on technological experimentation and new media, Location One's residencies and programs have favored social and political discourse and dialogue, and acted as a catalyst for collaborations. With a unique environment providing individualized training, support, and guidance to each artist, as well as exposure for their creations and collaborations, Location One continues to nurture the spirit of experimentation that it considers the cornerstone of its mission.