Larissa Sansour_ENG

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BILDMUSEET 27/08 202011/04 2021

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ISSA SOUR IRM



27/0811/04

LARISSA SANSOUR / HEIRLOOM

INTRODUCTION

In Heirloom, Larissa Sansour takes us to a dystopic future where the Earth has undergone an ecological collapse. There, the human clone Alia addresses the trauma, life goals and dreams of previous generations. What stories do we take over from previous generations? How are our lives shaped by this heirloom? The heart of the exhibition is the two-channel science fiction film In Vitro. After an environmental disaster, humans are forced to live underground and an abandoned nuclear reactor serves as an orchard. In the underground facility, the creator of the orchard, Dunia, is lying on her deathbed when 30-year-old Alia comes to visit her. The exhibition also includes an installation with a monumental sculpture, Monument for Lost Time. The exhibition Heirloom paints a picture of the implications of collective memory, exile, and inherited traumas on identity. Where In Vitro is based on a concrete disaster with a geographical location in the heart of Betlehem, the themes split, exile, and identity are universal. With her poetic and sensuous images, Larissa Sansour establishes a dialogue, putting a perspective on current political and universally human issues. The works in the exhibition were created in collaboration with the writer and artist Søren Lind. Heirloom was commissioned by The Danish Arts Foundation for the Danish pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2019. Curators of the presentation at Bildmuseet: Katarina Pierre and Brita Täljedal. With thanks to The Danish Arts Foundation.


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BIOGRAPHY

Larissa Sansour (b. 1973, East Jerusalem) is a Danish-Palestinian artist and director who is based in London. She was educated in Copenhagen, London, and New York. Sansour applies an interdisciplinary approach to her works comprising film, photography, installation, and sculpture, often taking their points of departure in a science fiction universe, addressing both current political and universally human issues relating to identity and belonging. Her films have been shown at film festivals and art museums all over the world. In recent years, she has had several major solo shows, including Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen (2020), Dar El-Nimer, Beirut (2018), Bluecoat, Liverpool (2017), the Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff (2017), New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2016), and Nikolaj Kunsthal, Copenhagen (2016).


27/0811/04

LARISSA SANSOUR / HEIRLOOM

IN VITRO

Larissa Sansour & Søren Lind In Vitro, 2019 Film, 28 min Spoken language: Arabic Alternately Swedish and English subtitles In Vitro is set in Betlehem, Palestina, after a devastating disaster has destroyed the city. Massive torrents of liquid black oil are gushing through the streets, flooding the old city district. The floods of oil reach Manger Square in front of the Church of Nativity, setting the church alight. The city is deserted and the inhabitants have sought refuge beneath the city until life above ground can be established once again. In one of these bunkers, we meet the young woman Alia, who is visiting her elderly teacher, Dunia, who is dying. Here they attempt, along with other scientists, to re-cultivate crops and plants in a subterranean greenhouse by using seeds collected prior to the apocalypse. They hope, one day, to be able to recreate the old pre-apocalyptic world. The dialogue between the two women evolves into a conversation on reminiscence and memory. Alia was born in exile below ground as part of an extensive cloning programme and she has never seen the place she will help to rebuild. Nevertheless, she remembers vivid details from pre-apocalyptic life. She has never experienced a rising or setting sun, still she is able to recall dusk and dawn. Her own memories have been replaced by the narratives implanted in her. The film shows glimpses of memories of the past, memories from everyday life at the city’s market, church bells pealing, and olives being harvested, memories of a childhood spent in a town house, and the flight from the city when disaster struck. Whereas Dunia and the older generation experience life below ground as a temporary exile, life in the bunker is the only life known to Alia.


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Alia calls into question, therefore, whether the heritage and memories passed on to her are of any use when the old world has been destroyed and a new one is to be built. It makes no sense to Alia to cling to remnants of the past and reproduce its myths and constructions – should the past define the future or is survival rooted in something else?

MONUMENT FOR LOST TIME

Larissa Sansour & Søren Lind Monument for Lost Time, 2019 Sculpture The exhibition also features the gigantic sculpture Monument for Lost Time, a coal-black spherical shape, which, in the film, acts as a kind of memory store for Alia. It is part of Alia’s imaginary world and represents the broken memory, the absence of independent memories and identities shared by herself and former generations of clones. Perhaps we can also see it as the material manifestation of the absence of the present. Alia describes this as a “void lodged between what was and what’s to come. […] Like a black hole.” In the film, the black sphere seems to exude too much meaning, to the extent that Alia is overcome by it. However, denuded of its filmic context and severed from all the memory images it produces and reproduces, the sphere has grown into a whirring, looming and impenetrable sculpture that ominously bears down on everything else. If monuments are supposed to commemorate, and remind us of things past, then this black sphere has become a petrified signifier unable to conjure up anything. Indeed, it is a void, a hollow vessel, a reminder of loss that can no longer be defined, but only be sensed achingly like a phantom limb.



GROUND CONTROL /

LARISSA SANSOUR / HEIRLOOM

GROUND CONTROL /

FAITH RINGGOLD /

CREATIVE WORKSHOP

GROUND CONTROL / RECEPTION ENTRANCE

AUDITORIUM LIBRARY CAFÉ / RESTAURANT

ENTRANCE

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