Larissa Sansour: In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain
Larissa Sansour is an interdisciplinary artist, working in video, photography, installation and sculpture to create overtly political works that explore and approximate the realities of life in Palestine. References and details ranging from sci-fi and spaghetti westerns to horror films converge with Middle East politics and social issues to create intricate parallel worlds in which new value systems can be decoded. In the Future They Ate From the Finest Poreclain features, at its heart, a film of the same name that combines live motion and computer generated imagery to explore the role of myth in history, fact and national identity.
Archaeology in Absentia is a sculpture and performance project converting the fiction of the film In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain to fact. The sculptural installation presents a series of bronze munition replicas modelled on a small Cold War Russian nuclear bomb. Engraved on a disc inside each capsule are the coordinates, longitude and latitude, to deposits of hand-painted porcelain plates buried in Israel/Palestine. With the porcelain itself absent from the installation, the bombshells and the references they hold represent the archaeological artefacts ‘in absentia’.
The coordinates of each porcelain deposit were established during real-life entombment performances in places like Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Gaza, Ramallah, the Dead Sea, Nazareth, Jericho and Jaffa – with all locations marked on a grayscale map. A series of black and white photographs that document the locations is also exhibited here.
Carrying the iconic keffiyeh pattern, the porcelain was deposited for future archaeologists to excavate. Once unearthed, they will interfere with current versions of history, in effect causing an historical intervention.
Revisionist Production Line is part of Sansour’s recent body of works exploring the notion of archaeology as warfare. In Israel/Palestine, archaeology has long since become a battleground for settling territorial disputes. Unearthed artefacts are used in support of nationalist narratives establishing the idea of historical entitlement.
Revisionist Production Line takes the idea of a narrative supported by archaeological evidence one step further. Instead of relying on artefacts already in the ground, Sansour suggests that manufacturing and planting the archaeological evidence for future archaeologists to excavate might be the most reliable approach to establishing a favourable counter-narrative.
In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain resides in the cross-section between sci-fi, archaeology and politics. At its centre is a narrative resistance group that makes underground deposits of elaborate porcelain – suggested to belong to an entirely fictional civilisation. Their aim is to influence history and support future claims to their vanishing lands. Once unearthed, this tableware will prove the existence of this counterfeit people. By implementing a myth of its own, their work becomes a historical intervention – de facto creating a nation.
The film takes the form of a fictional video essay. A voice-over based on an interview between a psychiatrist and the female leader of the narrative’s resistance group reveals the philosophy and ideas behind the group’s actions. The leader’s thoughts on myth and fiction as constitutive for fact, history and documentary translate into poetic and science fiction-based visuals.
As the film progresses, the narrative and visuals alternate between the theoretical and the personal and the story takes the viewer deeper and deeper into the resistance leader’s subconscious.
The exhibition also includes And They Covered The Sky Until It Was Black, a new suspended sculptural installation that features an ominous swarm of the spaceships that can be glimpsed in the film.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Larissa Sansour was born in Jerusalem in 1973 to a Palestinian father and a Russian mother and studied Fine Art in Copenhagen, London and New York.
Sansour has exhibited extensively with recent solo exhibitions including venues such as: New Art Exchange in Nottingham; Turku Art Museum in Finland; Wolverhampton Art Gallery; Photographic Center in Copenhagen; Kulturhuset in Stockholm; Lawrie Shabibi in Dubai; Sabrina Amrani in Madrid and DEPO in Istanbul. Her work has also featured in the biennials of Istanbul, Busan and Liverpool. Sansour has won Best International Experimental Short Film, Guanajuato, Mexico, and MADATAC First Prize, Madrid, Spain.
Sansour is represented by Lawrie Shabibi in Dubai, Sabrina Amrani in Madrid and Montoro12 Contemporary Art in Rome. She lives and works in London.
In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain is co-commissioned by FLAMIN Productions through Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network with funding from Arts Council England; New Art Exchange, Nottingham; Bluecoat, Liverpool; Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton; and The Mosaic Rooms, A M Qattan Foundation, London; with support from Doha Film Institute; The Danish Arts Council, Arts Council England, Iambic Film, Knud Højgaards Fond and Contemporary Art Platform – Kuwait. Produced by Spike Film and Video, Bristol.