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Nashashibi/Skaer: Thinking Through Other Artists

Tate St Ives
20 October 2018 – 6 January 2019

Nashashibi/Skaer Why Are You So Angry? film still. Courtesy of the artists.
Nashashibi/Skaer Why Are You So Angry? film still. Courtesy of the artists.

Tate St Ives presents British artists Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer. Working together as Nashashibi/Skaer, this exhibition combines the artists’ collaborative films with their selection of artworks from the Tate collection and other sources. Art from different places and times will be brought together to generate new meanings and connections with Nashashibi/Skaer’s own practice.

Nashashibi/Skaer have treated the process of exhibition-making as if they were creating an artwork. Each of their five films on display becomes a starting point to explore key ideas that resonate across the exhibition, from the portrayal of women and the representation of global cultures to issues around political conflict. Featured artists include Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Paul Nash, Pierre Bonnard, Louise Bourgeois, Jo Spence, Lee Miller, Gauri Gill and Rossella Biscotti. Presenting this range of works together enables Nashashibi/Skaer to reflect on the changing significance of objects and images in different times and places.

Alongside their individual practices, Rosalind Nashashibi and Lucy Skaer have been collaborating as Nashashibi/Skaer since 2005. Their artworks – mostly made using 16mm film – centre on art, artists and architecture. One retraces Paul Gauguin’s travels to Tahiti, while others explore works by Henri Matisse and Paul Nash, a museum collection, and a diplomat’s residence in Hong Kong.

Taking its title from a painting by the artist Paul Gauguin, the film Why Are You Angry? 2017 explores his depictions of Tahitian women. Nashashibi/Skaer retraced Gauguin’s travels to Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia, asking women they met to appear in the film. By imitating Gauguin’s gaze, but stripping away the myth of the artist and using film instead of paint, Nashashibi/Skaer call into question his representations of women. In bathroom views by Pierre Bonnard and bronze figures by Henri Matisse, the nude subjects turn away from the viewer, a gesture that might equally be seen as defiant or passive. In contrast, there are also works by more recent women artists, some showing women powerfully representing themselves. These include Louise Bourgeois’ depictions of her own creativity, Lee Miller’s portrait of herself in Adolf Hitler’s bath and Jo Spence’s self-portraits in the terminal stages of cancer.

The exhibition will also show Ambassador 2005 – the first artwork that Nashashibi/Skaer made together; Flash in the Metropolitan 2006 – made in the world-famous museum at night; Pygmalion Event 2008 – bringing the late work of Henri Matisse to life; and Our Magnolia 2009 – a film that reimagines Paul Nash’s Flight of the Magnolia 1944.

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