‘Out of Place’
This group show gives a sense of what real displacement – the forced kind – can be like
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Feb. 25, 2011
'Out of Place'
Lora Reynolds Gallery, 360 Nueces #50, 215-4965
Through March 5
Like when you take an idea from your interior, a response to the perception of your environment, from where it faintly twitches
within the wet folds of soft gray matter, and you displace the idea onto canvas or paper or a block of marble, a chunk of wood, a sheet of metal, a spectrum of pigment, a group of objects yet to be arranged or conjoined in an approximation of that idea. Remove the idea from the buzzing bedsit of your skull, and give it a few nights on the town: Give it form.
Do that in certain ways, in certain contexts, and someone's gonna call it art.
The premise of "Out of Place," the current exhibition at the Lora Reynolds Gallery, curated by UT's Noah Simblist, is, says the curator's statement, "related to Edward Said's description of his memoir ... as 'a record of a lost or forgotten world.' He was referring to the Palestinian condition of exile – a displacement that creates a gap between both physical spaces and states of mind. But this notion can be thought of in more general terms, serving as the starting point for a group of artists who explore placelessness as it is manifest in Israel-Palestine. Being in one place, but consumed by the memory of another, produces works that are uncanny, combining familiar and unfamiliar contexts into something strange."
Like when you take the concerns of a people, a geographic area, and you have those addressed by other people – artists displacing ideas from their heads – some of them not necessarily of those people or that geographic area. An international response, in other words. Which is not a bad idea itself. Because: ethnicity, geographic area, artists, other limiting pigeonholes? Fuck it: We're all in this together. But we're reminded, in "Out of Place," how the idea of all of us being in this together is so often a contentious – sometimes a violently contentious – idea.
Yael Bartana's film "Mur i Wieza," continually screened in a darkened microtheatre built at the back of the gallery, shows a group of post-Zionist Jewish prisoners building a kibbutz near where the Warsaw Ghetto was located during World War II. Nida Sinnokrot's main work here is an endangered West Bank butterfly, pinned, on display in the center of the gallery, with enlarged, mirror-image doubles of an Israeli occupation map turned into a giant butterfly on an adjacent wall and transformed again into a giant butterfly kite on another. Tom Molloy of Ireland has reproduced, on a single sheet of green paper, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, "drafted in 1967 after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip." Molloy's removed the text, cut each tiny letter perfectly out of the paper, so the resolution can be easily read by what's now missing from it.
Oh, there's more – more videos, photos, sculpture – and it's eye-opening. It will, at least briefly, displace you from the urban heart of Austin, from the elegant interior of the Reynolds Gallery, to a place where you catch glimpses of what real displacement, forced physical displacement, can be like. Fortunately, the method of transmission here is manifest in certain ways, within certain contexts, and we can call it art.