Orthostates, installation view Jameel Arts Center, 2019. Photo by Dani Baptista
Bringing together 13 artists and collectives, ‘Phantom Limb’ interrogates our lived relationship to material heritage. Ranging across diverse media, the works on display pose pressing questions around the writing of history, the weaponization of heritage and the construction of foundation myths. From the circulation of artefacts to the destruction of architectural spaces, issues of material heritage are of global pertinence, yet are particularly charged in the Middle East, where layered realities of colonialization, war, and competing claims of cultural dominance form the backdrop to the research, preservation, trade and destruction of material heritage. At the heart of ‘Phantom Limb’ is the drive to reclaim lost histories, not only through documentation and archiving, but also through speculation and imagination.
Whether through sculpture, installation, video, photography or 3D rendering, the objects and sites explored in this exhibition are never fully rendered, rather they are evoked, imagined, and referenced. The exhibition’s title ‘Phantom Limb’ refers to the painful condition when the body refuses to acknowledge the loss of its part, usually the result of violent injury or amputation. This visceral haunting in the present of something that was forcibly removed in the past echoes many of the concerns of the artists presented in the exhibition.
‘Phantom Limb’ features commissioned works by Rand Abdul Jabbar, Ali Cherri, Decolonizing Architecture and Benji Boyadgian as well as works by Akram Zaatari, Jumana Manna, Pio Abad and Frances Wadsworth Jones, Kader Attia, Théo Mercier, Rayyane Tabet and Khalil Rabah. The exhibition also includes Maps of Defiance, an extensive installation of visual materials, annotated maps, 3D models, and data analysis by research agency Forensic Architecture co-produced by Art Jameel and the V&A.