Whitney Biennial 2017
Audio Guide Playlist

GCC: The work is based on a real police report of a cursed object found in the middle of the sea. A monument, based on those found in cities across the Gulf, comprises a large, slightly rotting yellow melon supported by scaffolding. The ovoid shape is covered in talismanic writing and an effigy of a person spans the surface. Burn marks and nails hammered in neat rows pierce the flesh.

This structure stands at the center of a roundabout, that ubiquitous remnant of European colonialism and post-colonial influence. Roundabouts also have another resonance as a site of dissent: these usually inaccessible traffic highlands become the site of popular protest as well as military repression. Detritus, including sculptures of coral rock, malnourished plants, and trash are arranged systematically to form the roundabout shape. These sculptures are embedded in concrete paving.

The work addresses conversations related to black magic, positive energy, heritage engineering, and hopelessness. The exercise of state power through the disappearance of ideas, bodies, and resistance involves the controlling of the imagination and the very shape and skin of everyday life.

The state considers magic as an anarchical and extremely negative point of resistance to the status quo. While the governments of the Gulf countries have selectively chosen to revitalize certain aspects of the region's culture—where pearls and sailboats become perfectly white, concrete sculptures—here the ancient, magic traditions that have been made to disappear, relegated to the secretive, dark fringes, willfully take center stage. By repositioning it in a highly visible and public venue in New York City at this moment in time, such sanctioning usurps power and instrumentalizes it. It becomes a dystopian gesture at gaining control of hegemonic systems.

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