Born in Croydon, UK, in 1973, a Glasgow-based artist of Northern Irish and Palestinian origins, Rosalind Nashashibi has won recognition over the last two years for her meditative films, shown as part of Scotland’s participation in the 50th Venice Biennale in the video and film programme accompanying the exhibition ”Zenomap” (curated by Kay C. Pallister). In 2003 she received Beck’s Futures award. Her first major solo exhibitions in the UK took place in 2003 at the CCA in Glasgow and at the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. She was recently included in two group shows: ”Sodium and Asphalt” (curated by Ann Gallagher and Tobias Ostrander at Museo Tamayo, Mexico City) and ”Britannia Works” (curated by Katarina Gregos, Ileana Tounda Contemporary Art Centre, Athens).
Nashashibi’s interest in the mundane activities of human beings translates into a distinctly individual language in her films. When compared to this part of today’s art production, which examines notions of highly idiosyncratic taste, touching upon the ambiguities of beauty and immersed in the refined style typical of our post-production era, Nashashibi’s inspiration seems to stem completely from elsewhere. Hers is the domain which is easy to overlook and certainly difficult to approach, as it is earthly and all-too-familiar. Her work may remind us of documentaries, but whereas most documentary productions deal with one sort of drama or another – individual or historical – this artist’s camera records actions and objects which seem perfectly simple and timeless, very much in place and possibly universal. Nashashibi often chooses titles that oscillate between the descriptive and the poetic – like Open Day (showing workers and interiors at the Barbican Centre in London, a yoga class and an indoor climbing wall against a soundtrack of pop songs) or States of Things (showing a Salvation Army sale to a song by Oum Khultoum, Egyptian singing star of the 1920s) – as do the films themselves. The sensitive and precise camera work turns simple acts into private miracles.Waiting, sleeping, preparing a meal or cleaning the house – in fact it is all about being together, and bringing back this forgotten feeling of belonging and togetherness through the medium of film. Activities and motifs that seem to belong to the long-forgotten repertoire of realism in art, and often escape our attention, are built into the narrative structure of Nashashibi’s recent film Hresh House, showing a day – a holiday, actually – in the life of a Palestinian family in Nazareth. Indirectly, the work points at what could be a healthy micro-economy, friendly, well-motivated and seemingly effortless collaboration in a small group of people. Nashashibi works towards inverting the logic of the present, advanced capitalist ”anti-market” (Manuel De Landa). In her films she tries to restore the joy and power of the direct exchange of goods and ideas which is at work on all market squares, from South America to North Africa and Eastern Europe. The artist pays equal attention to work and leisure.
For the exhibition ”Over In” at the Kunsthalle Basel, which is her first individual show in continental Europe, Rosalind Nashashibi has made a series of new screen prints. She will also show two films: a new production commissionned by the Kunsthalle Basel Park Ambassador in which a recreational structure in a British public park is examined as a primitive abstraction of power, and an early film which has not been shown in public so far, Stone and Table. These two films are studies of objects, but they can also be seen as developments of Nashashibi’s quest to capture the essence of presence in space and time. Her desire is to show things as they are, or perhaps as they could be.
The exhibition catalogue will be published by Kunsthalle Basel with Schwabe Verlag, Basel.
This exhibition is supported by: