The Mosaic Rooms, London, are pleased to present My Sister Who Travels, a group exhibition of six contemporary women artists who use lens-based media. Each in her own way challenges canonical representations of landscape photography, and their works are presented alongside archival photographs by Esther Van Deman, a Victorian archaeologist, whose work acts as a fulcrum for the project.
Often straying from the conventional tropes of Romanticism, the landscapes presented in this exhibition focus on the Mediterranean as a place that visually articulates concerns of memory, conflict, colonisation, migration, emptiness and expanse. From Corinne Silva’s Moroccan-within- Spanish wastelands in Imported Landscapes (2010), to Paola Yacoub’s invisible remnants of the Lebanese Civil War in Elegiac Landscapes (2001), Ursula Schulz-Dornburg’s photographs of Syria (2010) and Jananne Al Ani’s stills from her aerial film Shadow Sites II (2011), the works evoke layers of imperialism and history, alongside prescient ruin and destruction. In video works by Noor Abed and Halida Boughriet, the picturesque evaporates, as questions of economic and political migration surface through human narratives of movement. These ‘moving photographs’, like their still counterparts, explore political inequalities between the Global North and the Global South.
Esther Van Deman’s near-forensic photographs of bricks, walls and aqueducts from the early twentieth century – taken in Italy, Tunisia and Algeria – anchor the exhibition within a historical dimension. Their juxtaposition with the contemporary work emphasises alternative modes of envisioning landscape. In combination, these historical and contemporary practices create oddly displaced representations of familiar geographies.
Until recently, landscape photography has been traditionally considered a gendered Western genre, co-opted by the masculine eye. By focusing on the different ways in which contemporary women artists engage politically with post-colonial themes in their practices, My Sister Who Travels brings to light unstated narratives of landscape.
My Sister Who Travels is the first exhibition selected from The Mosaic Rooms open call for exhibition proposals from independent curators last year. The curator, Martina Caruso, is an art historian, writer and curator. Caruso lectures in the history and theory of photography.
The selected international artists have exhibited widely. Iraqi-British artist Jananne Al Ani (b. 1966) has exhibited internationally with recent solo exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery Project Space, London (2014) and the Beirut Art Center (2013); her works can be found in collections from Tate Modern to SFMOMA, San Francisco. British artist, Corinne Silva (b. 1976), has recently had a solo exhibition at the Makan Art Space in Amman, Jordan (2014), and been Artist in Residence at A.M. Qattan Foundation. Amongst her numerous solo and group exhibitions, Lebanese artist Paola Yacoub (b. 1966), has presented work at Le Bal (2012) and the Pompidou Centre (2013) in Paris and Ashkal Alwane in Beirut (2013), and has work in public collections including the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes and the Centre pour l’Image Contemporaine/Mamco, Geneva. The German artist, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg (b. 1938), has exhibited internationally and has work in Tate Modern’s collection. Palestinian artist Noor Abed (b. 1988) has exhibited in the US, Jerusalem and Norway, and has been involved in events including And And And for the 100 days of exhibition at Documenta (13) in Kassel, Germany. French-Algerian artist, Halida Boughriet’s (b. 1980) video and photography works are shown in the Mnam/CCI Collection at the centre George Pompidou and at the MAC/VAL, Museum of Contemporary art in Val-de-Marne, Paris.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events, which will shed further light on the subjects raised in the exhibition.