Exquisite Corpse, installation view Sharjah Art Foundation, 2021. Photo by Shanavas Jamaluddin.
The installation is made of several single-soldier-tents used by Germany, Russia, France and the United States in various ground offensives in North Africa, the Levant and the Gulf throughout the 20th century. They showcase the adoption and evolution of a simple square-shaped design introduced by the German army in 1899, which bears a striking resemblance to a classical Bedouin jacket called “bisht” that can be transformed into a single-person- tent by using two wooden poles. Between 1939 and 1968, Max von Oppenheim published an ethnographic study of Bedouin tribes in 4 volumes. Tabet includes in the installation these books alongside the genealogical tree of a Bedouin tribe and the maps of their movements in summer and winter derived from Von Oppenheim’s publication.
With this, Tabet not only emphasizes the accidental connection between Von Oppenheim’s archeological endeavors and a historical case of cultural appropriation, but also confronts two fundamentally different concepts of society: objects that have come to symbolize colonial interventions, and traces of migration patterns and tribal links that negate the common conception of borders and nation states.