Points of Departure at the ICA
Points of Departure is the result of a yearlong collaboration between the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Delfina Foundation, ArtSchool Palestine and the British Council. It brings together the works of five Palestinian and UK artists in an exploration of questions regarding identity, history, nationalism and place, in turn arising from investigations into the concept of liminality: a transitional loss of identity and the gain of new perspectives.
There are a number of engaging installations. Bashar Alhroub’s exhibit The Road Leads Me To… is an intriguing collection of mixed media. The distorted humanoid shapes and silhouettes are formed from materials gathered on daily excursions around London. They draw a set of disjointed non-people, their features expressed in abstract ways. Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme‘s video piece was vaguely poetic but felt slightly overdone. In contrast, their installation next to it was far more immersive: The Incidental Insurgents is a focused space mimicking a studio or office. Every surface is cluttered with writings and images to the point of bombardment. It’s slightly overwhelming, but there’s a narrative that emerges in a muddled and complex fashion as you go along. This transforms the initial hesitancy of walking into the room into a sense of interest.
On the other hand, some installations swung and missed. There is no shortage of video pieces in the exhibition, but many of them fall into the hole of being overly artsy, becoming opaque and fragmented to the point of incomprehension. People seemed to lose interest in Olivia Plender’s two-channel video installation Blind Eye. This was presumably mostly owing to the fact that the clips and scenes were broken up by overlong periods of black screen, and viewers either assumed the films were finished, or lost patience. Jeremy Hutchinson’s Fabrications featured three pairs of jeans mounted on plywood. The jeans were produced by factory workers at Hutchinson’s request to reflect the experience of an inhabitant of Nablus, Palestine. The resultant clothes are misshapen and unwearable, but come off as quirky more than anything else. Besides which, is it his art if somebody else made it?
Points of Departure is hit and miss. There are fascinating parts filled with political overtones and personal anecdotes. Alongside these there are things that seemingly make no sense, but such is the subjectivity of art: what makes sense to one man baffles another.
Points of Departure is at the Institute of Contemporary Art from 26th June until 21st July 2013. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.