Sumac Space

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Present Imperfect

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01.02.2021 - 23.03.2021

curated by

Darya Aloufy

Present Imperfect examines conceptions of identity in the present moment as intrinsically related both to the constraints of the past and the promises of the future. As suggested by its title, this exhibition seeks to explore the inherent flaws in our attempts to articulate categories of identity in contemporary society. 

The exhibition features five artists who provide various perspectives on present-day womanhood and the role it plays in their formulation of a sense of ‘self’. Womanhood is configured through a series of enquiries posed by each of the artists into their histories, bodies, fears, and hopes. This is juxtaposed with an interrogation of locality: the artists comment on their sense of belonging through an introspection that is saturated with conflicting desires of preservation and reformation; they draw upon personal, communal, and societal histories while reconsidering and reimagining their disposition within these spaces.

Presenting a cross-temporal reflection on womanhood, the female gaze is harnessed to trace its own origins, to question the position of women in today’s socio-political terrain, as well as to propose and fantasize about future shifts and possibilities. Simultaneously, it displays the stratified, conflicting, and imperfect results of this process. The works refuse to align perfectly with a homogenous understanding of the issues they interrogate–a failure that points to the inability to attain a perfect, univocal definition of ‘womanhood’.

Present Imperfect is the third of a three-part digital exhibition that brings together artists from the Middle East. Our history, identity and collective memory are built upon a collection of objects, documents, stories and experiences. What connects the works in these three exhibitions is the artistic practice that marks a tension by interrogating and recasting everyday objects and events to draw out their relationships to contemporary experience in a landscape of successive social and political change. Apart from the imminent need to consider the historical context out of which this current state of affairs has emerged, the chosen works reflect on contemporaneity as a concept that captures the frictions of the present.

Artists: Jafra Abu Zoulouf, Joana Kohen, Azita Moradkhani, Ruth Patir, Maya Perry

Curator: Darya Aloufy is an art historian and curator. She holds a BA in History of Art from Tel Aviv University and an MA in History of Art from University College London. Her research focuses on ambivalent narratives of identity and counter-narratives, with special interest in photographic archives as well as women’s image. She is currently the Assistant Curator at TAU Gallery.

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