Alia Farid

Elsewhere

★★★☆☆

On until 4 February 2024

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. 


notes and notices are short and curt exhibition reviews. Read more:

Cui Jie, Thermal Currents at Pilar Corrias ★☆☆☆☆

Cui Jie

Thermal Landscapes

★☆☆☆☆

The exhibition feels like a lecture on climate change sponsored by the designers of The Line, Saudi Arabia’s dystopian plan for a 110-mile linear city in the desert.

Max Hooper Schneider, Twilight at the Earth’s Crust at Maureen Paley ★★☆☆☆

Max Hooper Schneider

Twilight at the Earth’s Crust

★★☆☆☆

Mad Max meets Waterworld in a crossover sequel conceived by a film studio’s marketing department.

Josèfa Ntjam’s, swell of spæc(i)es, Venice ★★☆☆☆

Josèfa Ntjam

swell of spæc(i)es

★★☆☆☆

Ntjam’s Biennale presentation has all the hallmarks of world-building ambition. For one, it boasts two separate locations, one dedicated solely to the work’s public programme. The main feature is housed in a giant purpose-made structure which occupies a third of…

Stuart Middleton, The Human Model at Carlos/Ishikawa ★★☆☆☆

Stuart Middleton

The Human Model

★★☆☆☆

An interest in material is core to this practice but Middleton mistrusts his instincts.

RE/SISTERS at Barbican ★★☆☆☆

RE/SISTERS

★★☆☆☆

Too many deadpan landscape photographs turn intrigue into fatigue and into paralysis.

Tesfaye Urgessa, The Ethiopian Pavilion in Venice ★★★★★

Tesfaye Urgessa

Prejudice and Belonging

★★★★★

Urgessa’s figures are contorted in love, death, or merely life.

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