Critics’ Picks

View of “Amir Fattal,” 2015. From left: Coverage, 2015; “Untitled,” 2015.

View of “Amir Fattal,” 2015. From left: Coverage, 2015; “Untitled,” 2015.


Amir Fattal

Anna Jill Lüpertz Gallery
Potsdamer Str. 98a 2. Courtyard
April 30–June 20, 2015

Amir Fattal’s exhibition “Mesopotopography” deals with moments when art becomes the catalyst for or victim of cultural conflict. Through an animated video; a fabric tapestry; a series of untitled prints made from an industrial dust known as carborundum, raw pigment, and lacquer on aluminum; and 3-D prints utilizing the sand-colored carborundum, Fattal reflects on how the Arab news media has documented the decimation of sacred and historical monuments in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and North Africa during the last twenty years. To this Israeli artist with Iraqi origins who now lives in Berlin, questions of cultural ownership, authorship, and memory are personally pertinent.

His principal concern however is with the origins of images disseminated through purportedly objective news media in the Arab world. For Fattal, the key question is: Whose voice tells what story? For example, Coverage, 2015, consists of thirty-six vibrantly colored pieces of silk printed with Al Jazeera’s logo. Displayed covering a wall of the gallery, the inviting and dynamic squares of yellow, blue, and green silk represent an Arab identity and perspective and could be used as headscarves or prayer mats. But similar colors appear radioactive and unnerving when pigment is mixed with the industrial dust in his 2015 series of untitled prints depicting explosions set off and documented by ISIS. Nearby are visually softer but equally powerful works, friezes made out of carborundum. The three pieces in this series depict a synagogue and tomb in Iraq, but the tan, powdered medium makes them resemble sand castles. This poetic contrast underscores the fragility of artifacts that can be wiped out by the tides of history.