Critics’ Picks

View of “Jean-Luc Moulène: Products of Palestine.” From left: 04 11 11  0,5 L'eau, 2004; 02 07 27 Gaufrettes au chocolat, 2002; and 03 08 11 Semoule, 2003.

View of “Jean-Luc Moulène: Products of Palestine.” From left: 04 11 11 0,5 L'eau, 2004; 02 07 27 Gaufrettes au chocolat, 2002; and 03 08 11 Semoule, 2003.

London

Jean-Luc Moulène

Thomas Dane Gallery
3 & 11 Duke Street, St James's
September 3–September 21, 2007

In a series of photographs shown together for the first time, Jean-Luc Moulène imports fifty-eight products made in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to this polished neoclassical gallery space in central London. Absent from global markets due to imposed sanctions, these items (olive oil, soap, lingerie, the glossy publication This Week in Palestine) are otherwise invisible to anyone outside of the isolated territories. The fifty-eight color photographs (taken between April 2002 and November 2004) are printed to uniform size and hung in a nearly unbroken line around three white rooms, as if each item has been set on an imaginary shelf. In this way, Moulène calls to mind the supermarket experience (or, as this is a commercial gallery, creates a cipher for it). Each item is pictured in a fully lit studio setting, a solid backdrop forcing brightly packaged goods to pop out visually from the surface. In a sober antidote to Damien Hirst’s installation Pharmacy, 1992, six different types of medicine (including Cloxan, Ratidine, and Rufenal) are rendered ineffectual, photographed against an acid-yellow background. These boxed pharmaceuticals, like most of the items shown here, are arranged as pairs, in a simple metaphor for the opposing forces on either side of the Palestinian border. Meanwhile, Moulène maintains a clear allusion to advertising and promotional photography, and so each image seems to be missing a graphic logo, slogan, and price—symbols of admittance into the forum of international commerce.