Best known for her projects informed by extensive research, Ala Younis has explored the formation of the modern Arab world and the potential for renewed thought and action that the era continues to inspire. Her works in sculpture, installation, drawing and moving image examine the proliferation of political imaginaries through the lens of cultural production. In the artist’s hands, artworks, architecture, film, posters, toys and even household appliances actualise an extensive material repertoire supposedly sealed off by history. Her interventions not only draw on the era’s exuberant optimism but also tap into a vein of critical ambivalence toward the political, which was at play in cultural expressions and practices of the period. Younis’ work brings to bear the generative volatility of this era on our current moment’s impoverished state of political imagination.
This exhibition presents two of Younis’ early works, Nefertiti (2008) and Tin Soldiers (2011), which provide insight into instances of social life and subjectivity that overpopulate political and historical narratives. The show also features Enactment (2017), a suite of graphite drawings and inkjet prints based on documentation that portrays moments of performative virtuosity when bodies are called upon to support other bodies. Included as well is a new commission that animates a tale of nations, investors, capital and aesthetics mobilised by the establishment of television studios and the proliferation of Arab dramas across the region.