Material for 2018 brings together work made by Egyptian Berlin-based artist Iman Issa over the last 7 years and includes her most recent work, Book of Facts: A Proposition.
Artist(s) Iman Issa
Venue Spike Island, Bristol, UK
Photography Stuart Whipps, courtesy Spike Island
In the works included in the exhibition, Issa (b.1979) uses a process of distilling, or drawing out of elements, to make different versions of collectively understood historical artefacts, facts and stories. Although her methodology is to define the instrumental qualities of an object or a text, she does not see it as a reductive approach, but rather as a means of understanding the resonance – in the present moment – of the original elements of past objects or histories.
Material (2010-2012) is a series of ten ‘displays’ presented as alternative forms to existing monuments and memorials. The titles of the works, such as Material for a sculpture proposed as an alternative to a monument that has become an embarrassment to its people (2010), point to Issa’s questioning of the resonance of monuments as times and ideas move on.
A set of six inkjet prints titled Colors, Lines, Numbers, Symbols, Shapes and Images (2010) scrutinise the symbolic language of election posters. Each is given the designation ‘untitled poster’ with a number, while collectively they present a landscape of specific places and events, reflecting what might remain in memory after their initial-use of campaigning has expired.
The Revolutionary (2010) is an audio piece composed by the artist and generated using text to speech software. The work presents a fictional narrative weaved around an attempt to understand the term ‘revolutionary’ and what this means in the present day.
Common Elements (2013) – an installation of texts, photographs and sculpture – also shows how the stories of individuals can speak of wider political and social conditions. Issa mines the autobiographies of four public figures to extract passages that describe not only their own personal circumstances but also wider historical contexts. The texts are complemented by a collection of photographs an sculptures made with reference to various museum displays seen by the artist.
Book of Fact: A Proposition (2017) is presented as a book, documenting an exhibition that has never taken place and never will. All the material is formatted in the guise of information geared towards a specific thesis that can only be unraveled through engaging with the book’s internal content and structure.
The exhibition is a collaboration with Bielefelder Kunstverein, Germany, where the artist presented her works from 18 November 2017 – 28 January 2018.