In Boundary Work (2017), Mandy El-Sayegh assembles new and previous works, presenting a concatenation of materials. The title is a hybrid term that describes the method of apprehending and processing signs from fragments and remainders in order to open up space for the production of composites—where meaning is kept in a state of flux. Excised from headlines, slogans and corporate jargon, much of the text in her work has double meanings that signal a breakdown or disturbance of systems and orders.
A central element of her presentation is the calligraphic work in English and Arabic produced by her father in a daily exercise he calls ‘practice.’ By overlaying her unique gestures and multiple examples of her father’s ‘practice’, she intends to train the hand and eye to understand that words—sometimes made up or chosen by their shape—render meaning arbitrary yet contingent upon their surroundings. The artist employs sheets and slabs of a skin-like substance that invite adjustments of focus between linguistic, material and corporeal registers. The austerity of the grid, which is synonymous with modernist ambition and order, is in direct contrast to the ‘thickness of flesh’, and here objects ‘fill out’ a newspaper-style system of rows and columns. By extending its potentially continuous field outward, these works reject narrative, sequential or perspectival preference, their borders pushing against the scale of its environment.
Taking its title from a work by Farideh Lashai that was itself inspired by Goya’s Disasters of War, this exhibition offers an insight into the radical ideas, visions and perspectives on humanity that inform the work of eight artists represented in the Sharjah Art Foundation Collection.
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