16 November – 23 December 2017

Iman Issa
Heritage Studies

It is with great pleasure to present the third exhibition in the gallery by Iman Issa. After various iterations of the series Heritage Studies in several museums and institutions such as the Sharjah Biennial, the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, MACBA in Barcelona, The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the current Nationalgalerie Preis at Hamburger Banhof in Berlin, this exhibition brings together a selection from this ongoing body of work that began in 2015.

Transforming the gallery into a historic space the sculptures in the exhibition are references to five works found in various world museums. Text precedes form and form is given shape by material offered by the past. Contemporary remakes of objects, things specifically described in a generic and distant language become the playground and an abstract alphabet for this extended sculptural vocabulary. Tackling upon history, its fading and how we deal with it, Heritage Studies is an exercise, a practice on memory. It is a game of creative criticism on the limits of language, the one of art’s history and the language of forms. “How can an object serve or evade an agenda?” she questions. A writer and an artist whose work stems from conceptual traditions and shuffles artifacts of Near Eastern antiquity with minimalism and Egypt’s vast historical archive, Iman Issa’s practice is generously one of nature’s recreation and Jorge Luis Borges’ play.

HS12 (codes are based on chronology and seriality), what looks like two spirals connected via a copper stick that moves from polished to oxidized, is a form that reintroduces an astronomical instrument from thousand years ago originating in a region in Iraq, Zubayr, currently located in a regional museum somewhere. Have we seen this object before? In a book or somewhere? And if not, why, as it sounds so important to have been selected from this ocean of objects to come back to life as a minimalist lollipop-like sculpture. What would it look like? Does it matter? The same goes for HS30, a red and white form sister to a green and white one reflecting on a tiny cylindrical ivory object from AD. 1061 but differently to the HS22 (not included in the show) the original is not bearing an inscription; instead it is decorated with animals.

The book Book of Facts: A Proposition that was commissioned by the 13th Sharjah Biennial will be launched at the gallery on December 1, at 6.30pm with a discussion between the artist and ICA curator Richard Birkett.