2Rs: Ruins and Rubbles
Sep 16 – Oct 22, 2022
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts Co-Organized with Artzotic
Under the Patronage of HRH Princess Wijdan Al Hashemi, The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts Cordially invites you to the opening of the exhibition: “The 2Rs: Ruins & Rubbles” by Artist Hanaa Malallah on Wednesday 14 September 2022 at 7:00 PM at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts – Building 2. The exhibition will be on view daily from 9:00 AM till 7:00 PM except Fridays. The exhibition will stay through 5 October 2022. This exhibition is co-organized by the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and Artzotic.
For the first time since 1997, Hanaa Malallah will be exhibiting at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts. Her solo exhibition, The 2Rs: Ruins and Rubbles, focuses on various projections including her body of work entitled, She/He Has No Name – a project commemorating the victims of the pre-dawn bombing of Public Shelter Nr. 25 in the Al Amiriyah neighborhood of Baghdad on the 13th of February, 1991. Without warning, two American F-117 planes each fired a laser-guided ’smart’ missile, instantly incinerating over 400 people. Shortly afterwards, a small booklet was published listing the victims names. 100 of those were accompanied by a photographic portrait. The others merely had a notice printed beside their names reading either ‘She has no picture’ (female) or ‘He has no picture’ (male).
In commemoration of these victims, Hanaa reproduced all the portraits available in the booklet in her typical “Ruins Technique” by burning pieces of canvas to different tonalities and sewing them into a collage. For those with no images, Hanaa memorialized them with a brass plate revealing the viewer’s reflection, or through a numerical code based on the Abjad system. The digital work was created by training a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) – an algorithmic architecture – on a dataset of Malallah’s artworks, producing an entirely new range of portraits, that captures elements which the human mind cannot conjure alone. The computer’s ability to visually generate images that are simultaneously lifelike and ghostly.
Central to this project is the face: the face of victims, of viewers and of the faceless and its relevance to memory and mourning. Hanaa questions the forms and physicality of the representation of the face and what it means in the era of the internet not to have one. The role of the human face is paramount in the social and mutually responsible encounter with the Other.
In its fully assembled form She/He Has No Picture is an expanded media wall installation with five constituents: Bas-relief Portraits, Brass-Plaques, Personal Numbers, Digitally Reconstructed Portraits, and a Memorial Wall. It was exhibited for the first time at the MoMA PS1 in 2019 for 6 months as part of the “Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011” exhibition.
Also on display, is a multimedia artwork “Drone hits the Great Ziggurat of Ur” (2016-2017), a three minute and thirty second video consisting of four parts of interrelated artworks: A large scale photographic print, two video projections, an architectural hologram and a growing number of drawings. Created by Hanaa Malallah and executed in collaboration with Iraq based artist Raya Abed Redah and her team (photographer Asad Nyazi and filmmaker Methaq Naim), and the architect Hisham Al Azzawi, the project explores the ancient Mesopotamian Ziggurat, its historical context, religious and existential dimensions and the Drone as signifier of the present digital age and its multi-tasking technical devises.
The clash between the Drone and the Ziggurat opens a complex and contradictory space for interpretation. A distinctive archaeological monument and world heritage site located near Nasiriya in Dhi Qaar province, Iraq and dated to the 3rd Millennium BCE, the massive four sided structure was excavated in 1920 by Sir Leonard Woolley of the British Museum, London. The first photographic image of it was thus taken in a colonial context. Subsequently the site drew many visitors. In 2003 American groups are photographed descending the stairs. The images were distributed in the Internet.
“This Green is not Green” is an artwork also on display that focuses on semiotics. Malallah uses the word “akhḍar (green)” in reference a series of oil paintings Shaker Hassan Al Saʿid made over the 1990s. They contain the names of colors written in colors other than those they name; for instance, the Arabic word for yellow—aṣfar—was written in orange. For a long time, Hanaa was haunted by those words in the paintings, by the difference between the name and the color. Al Saʿid’s concern had been semiotic; he was interested in language. But in this work, Malallah wanted to make a point about color: about the meaning of green, and the difference between the green of plants, which has an organic basis, in the chlorophyll the plants contain, and the green created by human beings which has a symbolic basis. This relationship between the organic and symbolic is the focus of her current research.