Sunday, June 19, 2022

Desire Lines - The Gaps

 ... the gaps -- the information that is absent, overlooked, or rendered invisible ...  Igshaan Adams

Larry Wolf,
Desire Lines Exhibition Catalog
on display in the Art Institute Gift Shop

What is the artist's desire? 

In the exhibition, Desire Lines, there is a richness of layering

woven surfaces with depth of material

manufactured surfaces worn through the activity of lives lived

geographies traversed one step at a time across terrain with no official path

structures draped in fabric

the work of teams sharing meals, sharing stories, sharing their lives

the visual echos of clouds of dust 

the placement of works in an exhibition 

It is all abstract except for two roses at opposite ends of the gallery, facing each other, an early bloom and a later bloom, symbols of the divine present in our lives, a reminder of the thorns present with beauty.

Knowing Everything or Nothing 

How would you treat someone differently if you knew everything about them? Or nothing?  Igshaan Adams

The exhibition catalogue is explosive in its specifics where the exhibition leaves so much unnamed. 

It overflows with the words of queer artists, beginning and ending with poems by Ocean Vuong. The opening essay  A World, Revealed identifies the artist as a queer Muslim man. The acknowledgments thank his life partner. There is an essay by a queer imam. And more. 

What do we know of the lives of these people? What are their specific joys and fears? What lines do they make across the landscape of their lives? Of our lives?

Visible and Hidden

Does it matter that we put labels on ourselves? On other people? Does it matter how the artist lives or only how the art lands in us, the viewer, the museum goer, the art collector? Do the wall texts and catalogue essays enrich the experience? Or take us away from the experience?

Does the artist,  the contributing writers, curators, put their lives at risk by being public? Are they being honored by this visibility? Do they have freedom in the world of the exhibition that they do not have at home?

Igshaan Adams, I was a hidden treasure, then I wanted to be known ... (2016)
at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

This work emerges from two questions I faced earlier in my career: How do I represent myself (a metaphorical and also literal concern, as I am a Muslim and Islam's visual tradition prohibits figuration)? And what is the role of creativity in my practice? The analogy of water came to me, especially how, over time, dripping water brings forth moss, which grows and expands. This is how creativity operates, too. Everything is connected to and emerges from its energy. You cannot remove yourself from it, whether it's making a sandwich, putting together an outfit, or producing an artwork. I approached this work through that analogy of water and moss and started to visualize the creation process that surrounds us all through the texture of landscape.
Igshaan Adams, 
I was a hidden treasure, then I wanted to be known, 
Art Institute of Chicago exhibition text (2022)

The Exhibition

The Exhibition Catalogue

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