Memory Material

18 January – 22 February 2014, AKINCI Gallery, Amsterdam (Catalogue text pdf)

Featuring Jananne Al-Ani and Stéphanie Saadé

In Memory Material two Middle Eastern artists explore issues of memory and how it both endures and disappears in materials and through technologies such as photography and film. Taking on and challenging the limitations that these media impose, they conjure up ways of reformulating conceptions of history, politics and form.

Irish-Iraqi artist Jananne Al-Ani shows part of The Aesthetics of Disappearance: A Land Without People, an ongoing project that she started in 2007. In it she explores the disappearance of the body in the real and imagined landscapes of the contested and highly charged geographies of the Middle East. On show at AKINCI are Aerial I, Aerial II and Aerial V (2011), a series of photographs that consider the aesthetics, history and politics of aerial military surveillance technologies. From a plane, Al-Ani took sepia-toned images that almost appear abstract. It is unclear whether we are looking at ancient ruins or contemporary traces, man-made or natural. Human presence seems to be factored out altogether. This distance contrasts starkly with the video Excavators (2010), showing a close-up of a group of industriously working ants that challenges notions of scale.

Lebanese artist Stéphanie Saadé’s work explores how memory is present in actions, objects and material. In Nostalgic Geography (2013) the artist transposes the route of a walk in Paris, where she used to live, onto a city map of Beirut. The displacement of the route reflects her own displacement as a Beiruti exile in Paris. In other works such as Strange Parts (2013) and Scarred Object (2013) parts of disparate objects are welded together, or objects are taken apart and fixed again. The scars, however, are always visible, and the meaning and essence of the objects is forever changed. AKINCI is premiering Logic Remains (2013) where the artist recuperates forgotten and discarded everyday materials such as pieces of string, cables, knots, and adhesive tape. Their origin and purpose are lost, but not the process and logic of how they were made. Saadé copies the shapes and transforms these leftovers into delicate examples of artistry.

Exhibition view
Jananne Al-Ani, Aerial I (2011)
Stépahnie Saadé, Logic Remains (2013)
Stéphanie Saadé, Strange Parts (2013)