Sixteen scruffy, hand-embroidered rugs show street scenes in garish reds and oranges. The images are wonky and lack perspective, as though they were recorded by a six-year-old. Writing stitched in Spanish, Arabic, and English explains these views: a restaurant, a pharmacy, a mosque. Slogans and lines of poetry find space between the edifices. “Del rio al mar libres vamos a andar” – a liberation call familiar from recent news – appears twice. The gallery text finally reveals that these works pay homage to the Palestinian diaspora of Puerto Rico.
An exhibition could hardly be more topical, although this is a coincidence. But it is, inevitably, also the show’s downfall. Is this East London gallery calling for Palestinian liberation from a Caribbean island with memorabilia made in Iraq because these artefacts demand it? Or is the exhibition a political reflex that has the art world celebrate Farad’s subject position?
This question is heartless but cannot be unasked. The intentions are explicit but there is no answer in the work. Presented this way, the artist’s cause and the object become enmeshed in a bland, yet exotic mess.