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Emily Jacir at the Guggenheim

Emily Jacir, "Where We Come From", 2002-2003
Emily Jacir,Where We Come From, 2002-2003, detail from project documentation. Via Anthony Reynolds Gallery.

Conversations With Contemporary Artists: Emily Jacir
Guggenheim Museum - 1071 5th Avenue New York, NY
6:30pm Wednesday 30 July 2008

Emily Jacir, nominated for this year's prestigious Hugo Boss Award, will be giving a talk at the Guggenheim this Wednesday, discussing her own work and other related issues. Jacir, an American-born artist of Palestinian descent, gained much attention for her 2002-2003 work Where We Come From, a year-long performance in which the artist solicited requests from the Palestinian diaspora to respond to the question of "if I could do something for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?" The resulting actions and documentation (texts, photos, video) are inclined more towards the symbolic than utilitarian: on behalf of her respondents Jacir visits a family put out of reach by Israeli travel restrictions, plays soccer on a field likewise policed to inaccessibility, plants a tree, visits a grave, takes a picture of a family home, and so on. The modesty of such gestures, both in their articulation and execution, implies quite strongly that the most fortified and technologically enabled of powers must be met - first of all - with a kind of humility, a kind of understated assertion of presence and historical awareness. What happens after, whether conditions change or endure - or may even be imagined changing from that which they presently are - is a different sort of inquiry than the one Jacir here engages.