Allora & Calzadilla in San Francisco and London

Settlements Sentiments (Figures of Speech), 2007, Mixed media Installation, Live Performance and pre-recorded soundtrack. Courtesy of Lisson Gallery.

London’s Lisson Gallery and the San Francisco Art Institute are concurrently presenting works by Art21 Season 4 artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla.

Lisson Gallery is showing Allora & Calzadilla’s sound- and light-specific works from October 10-November 17, 2007. For their second exhibition at the gallery, Allora & Calzadilla have developed a group of works that address ‘figures of speech’ in literal, metaphorical, and ironic ways. Sediments Sentiments (Figures of Speech, 2007) is the last in a trilogy of works that explore the interplay between militarism and sound in the context of today’s global state of war. Also on view is Internal Combustion (Eye of the Needle, 2007). The new film addresses another recurrent trope in the artists’ practice: that of animality and its unstable relationship to the realm of the human. The video literalizes an ancient figure of speech – the camel going through the eye of the needle – an expression found in Islamic, Judaic, and Christian traditions alike. In the video, the camel stands among the mechanical apparatus of the day-to-day activities of the proverbial power depot – the lifeblood of the industrial based capital of Tehran and the very backbone of the world’s globalized economy. Finally, Figures Of Speech (2007), is a photographic work that continues the artists’ investigation into the meaning and impact of political rhetoric in the international arena. Utilizing images from recent world events, newspaper cuttings spell out quotations, whereby the images themselves function as letters forming a type of human alphabet. The letters spell out iconic quotes ranging from Ronald Reagan’s statement “I Am a Contra” in 1987, addressing the nation on the Iran Arms and Contra Aid Controversy; to the Ayatollah Khomeini’s famous statement “I Don’t Feel a Thing” said in response to news reporter Peter Jennings’ question, “What do you feel in returning to Iran?”

Sediments, Sentiments (Figures of Speech) at the San Francisco Art Institute opens this Thursday, October 18 and runs through December 15, 2007. This exhibition is the final movement in a trilogy of site-specific sound-focused installations that started in 2006 at the Moore Space in Miami and then was shown at the University of Chicago’s Renaissance Society in Spring 2007. Allora & Calzadilla complement the installation with a suite of recent works in video: Returning a Sound (2004), Under Discussion (2005), Amphibious (2005), Sweat Glands, Sweat Lands (2006), Unrealizable Goals (2007), and There Is More Than One Way to Skin a Sheep (2007), which recently premiered at the 10th International Istanbul Biennial. Both Allora & Calzadilla will be lecturing at the San Francisco Art Institute this Wednesday, October 17 at 7:30 pm. Admission is free.

An accompanying exhibition catalogue will follow in 2008.

Sediments, Sentiments (Figures of Speech) is also presented concurrently with the exhibition Apocalypse Now: The Theater of War, co-curated by Jennifer Allora, Guillermo Calzadilla, and Jens Hoffmann at CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco, on view from November 30, 2007 to January 26, 2008.


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