Fazal Sheikh “Memory Trace”

Storefront for Art and Architecture

poster for Fazal Sheikh “Memory Trace”
[Image: Lifta - Jerusalem District, Fazal Sheikh, The Erasure Trilogy (2015). Presented as part of Memory Trace, 2016, at Storefront for Art and Architecture.]

This event has ended.

Storefront for Art and Architecture presents Memory Trace by Fazal Sheikh. Memory Trace brings a site-specific installation of part of the Israeli Separation Wall to the façade of Storefront’s gallery space at 97 Kenmare Street. Presented behind the façade are photographs of ruins and landscapes of villages that were evacuated and mostly destroyed during the 1948 and 1967 wars, as well as portraits of Arab-Israelis and Palestinians who were living in these villages and were displaced by war or forced into refugee camps.

The exhibition is presented as part of Erasures, a project by Fazal Sheikh that seeks to explore the legacies of the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, which resulted in the establishment of the State of Israel and in the reconfiguration of territorial borders across the region. The Erasures project is currently
presenting a body of photographs at six institutions around the world simultaneously.

“Taken from 2010 to the present, the photographs demonstrate that the conflict cannot be restricted to any single population or any one side of the conflict. They present a past but also a present wound that, produced by the violence, trauma, and ruin that were the signature of the war, can be read in the fact that Palestinians, Bedouins, and Israelis all find themselves today in mourning. In asking us to consider the history that simultaneously divides and binds these populations, Sheikh hopes to lay the groundwork for a potentially transformative empathy. What is at stake is the possibility of exposing and countering the various processes of erasure that have sought to eliminate both the violence of this history and the acts of erasure themselves. In making these histories of dispossession visible, Erasures hopes to interrupt our historical amnesia, and to transform our understanding of this ongoing conflict.” Eduardo Cadava, Curator

About Memory Trace
Memory Trace takes over the entire interior and exterior façade of Storefront with an image of a segment of the most iconic element of the ongoing conflict, the Israeli Separation Wall. The image, as seen from both sides of the wall, contains a series of traces that invite us to reflect upon notions of dispossession and displacement.

The more than 25 images presented in the interior of the gallery space are accompanied by captions in English, Arabic, and Hebrew that enable the visitor to locate the physical and political geographies inscribed within them, reconstructing, through the traces left over time, a series of memories and histories.

The landscapes of each site are accompanied by a series of information that includes: the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates, the population and number of houses on the site in 1948, the date when the village was evacuated, the occupying force and Israeli operation that evacuated it, a brief note about what (if anything) replaced the village in the aftermath of the war, a note about what is visible on the site today, and a statement about whether or not the village has been renamed, is now without a name, or is even registered in contemporary maps of Israel.

For the accompanying portraits, each includes excerpts from Sheikh’s interviews with the subjects conducted between 2010 and the present, from their accounts of what they saw as their villages were evacuated and depopulated or what they experienced after (and as a result of) the war, and the sorrow and loss they have endured because of their inability to return to their homes and land.
Some of the persons in the portraits have died in the time since the interviews, making this documentation the last trace of a history in disappearance.

Reading Images: On Memory and Place
Wednesday April 20, 2016 from 7-8 pm

On the occasion of the opening of Memory Trace, Storefront for Art and Architecture will present Reading Images: On Memory and Place, moderated by Eduardo Cadava and Fazal Sheikh with the participation of historians, artists, critics and journalists exploring and discussing the work on display. Participants include: Sadia Abbas, Emmet Gowin, Amira Hass, Susan Meiselas, Rosalind Morris, Sheia Sheikh, and Michael Wood, among others.

About Erasures
Erasures is presented simultaneously at Storefront for Art and Architecture, Pace/MacGill Gallery, and the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, Slought Foundation in Philadelphia, the Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in East Jerusalem, and the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center in Ramallah.

Together, this decentralized network of institutions, each one of them presenting different parts of the work and functioning in different arenas and with different mandates, seeks to generate conversation across different sites, contexts, and communities about the politics of dispossession and displacement.

A free exhibition newspaper structured around four different chapters that relate in different ways to the various exhibitions (Memory Trace, Desert Bloom, Independence/Nakba, and al-ʻAraqīb) presents nearly all of the works on display, and serves as a guide for the visitor. It is published in English, Arabic, and Hebrew, and a digital copy will be available on April 20th at www.fazalsheikh.org, www.slought.org, and www.storefrontnews.org.

The complete body of work of Fazal Sheikh on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be found in the multi-volume publication The Erasure Trilogy, published by Steidl in the Spring of 2015.

Fazal Sheikh is an artist whose practice involves photographs, texts, moving images, and oral testimony. Many of his projects are concerned with complex human rights issues, and he has a longstanding focus on the rights of displaced and dispossessed populations. For the last twenty-five years or so he has documented and recorded the mass phenomena of the refugee, and the modern history of displaced persons and peoples in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Somalia, Kenya, Brazil, and beyond.

His work has been exhibited at, among other places, the Tate Modern in London, the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris, the International Center of Photography and the United Nations in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, and the MAPFRE Foundation in Madrid. It has garnered him the Infinity Award from the International Center of Photography, the Leica Medal of Excellence, the Henri Cartier-Bresson International Grand Prize, and the Lucie Humanitarian Award. He also has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment of the Arts, and, in 2005, he was named a MacArthur Fellow.

His books include: A Sense of Common Ground (1996), The Victor Weeps (1998), A Camel for the Son (2001), Ramadan Moon (2001), Ladli (2007), The Circle (2008), Portraits (2011), and most recently, The Erasure Trilogy (2015).

About the Curator
Eduardo Cadava teaches in the Department of English at Princeton University. He is a faculty member in the summer program at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, and he has been the Benjamin Menschel Distinguished Visiting Professor in Architecture at Cooper Union.

He is the author of Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History (1997) and Emerson and the Climates of History (1997), and co-editor of Who Comes After the Subject? (1991), Cities Without Citizens (2004), a special issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly entitled And Justice for All?: The Claims of Human Rights (2004), and The Itinerant Languages of Photography (2013).

He has co-curated installations and exhibitions at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia, and the Princeton University Art Museum, and he has co-produced a DVD entitled Unpacking Derrida’s Library (2014), with recorded remarks by Judith Butler, Hélène Cixous, Hent de Vries, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Samuel Weber. He has recently introduced and co-translated Nadar’s memoirs, When I Was a Photographer (2015) and a collection of his essays on photography appeared in Spanish under the title La imagen en ruinas in 2015. His book Paper Graveyards: Essays on Art and Photography is forthcoming from Princeton University Press, and his book on Fazal Sheikh’s The Erasure Trilogy, Erasures, is forthcoming from Steidl.




from April 20, 2016 to June 18, 2016

Opening Reception on 2016-04-20 from 19:00 to 21:00


Fazal Sheikh

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