“For I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me. With every acquaintance I make, the population of phantoms resembling me increases. Somewhere they live, somewhere they multiply. I alone do not exist”– Vladimir Nabokov, The Eye, 1930
As the world gradually reopens, the rediscovery of our relationships and connections with other beings and the environment continues. Navigating through this renewed sense of interdependence, we become increasingly aware of the essentiality of our existence and its weight to someone else’s. Thus, we contemplate the idea of the world belonging to the individual and the individual belonging to the world. “Population of Phantoms” is a reflective conversation between the two artists. At the same time, they look into the immediate future: the renewal of the way we relate and associate with all around us and the reality of fostering new ways of life.
Noor Bahjat’s (b. 1991, Syria) expressionistic self-portraits and sketches draw narratives representing symbols and allegories that highlight the human form while entrenched in everyday life. The portrayals in her canvas remain expressionless as the artist illustrates herself with her thoughts and observations of the world. In “Population of Phantoms”, Bahjat will look into the different ways that we reclaim our connections to the natural and real. The distraction of the modern world and the limitations in physical connections are now two realities we are all forced to live with. Bahjat then depicts the development of life by tracing back its origin and then re-situates humanity at the center of things. She lives and works in the United Arab Emirates.
curated by Gwen Bautista
Synthesis of Affinities looks into the linked affinities of an individual with the self and the world beyond. The Iranian philosopher Reza Negarestani writes in Cyclonopedia (2008) that “Each particle of dust carries with it a unique vision of matter, movement, collectivity, interaction, affect, differentiation, composition, and infinite darkness.” In essence, these particles insert themselves inside the multiplicities of oneself as we participate in forming relationships with ourselves and others.
Coming from different generations and working in various styles and formats, “Synthesis of Affinities” arranges an ensemble where identities are portrayed using different approaches in art and image-making. The symbolic amalgamation of particles in the materials and objects that are found among the works in the presentations marks the individual’s longing for relationships and inclusions in the matters of the universe.
curated by Gwen Bautista