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Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum Presents Shimon Attie MetroPAL.IS.

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum presents Shimon Attie MetroPAL.IS. on view January 30 to May 30, 2011.

Shimon Attie’s exhibition MetroPAL.IS., a multiple-channel immersive HD video installation featuring members of the Israeli and Palestinian communities of New York City, is to debut at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.

The Aldrich has supported the production and presentation of this major new video work, created by noted artist Shimon Attie with the assistance of his longtime production associate, Vale Bruck.

The artist’s intention is for the artwork to re-imagine and re-configure the seemingly intractable Middle East conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, in part by engaging their shared secondary hybrid identity—that of being New Yorkers.

The artwork is as much about what it means to be a New Yorker, to live in the United States and to have a layered identity, as it is about the conflict in the Middle East. Rather than taking a frontal approach to the debate, Attie uses the language of contemporary art to create an exploration which he believes can oxygenate the narrow space between the narratives of these two communities.
The artist invited his subjects into the studio to be filmed one at a time, dressed as their “New York selves,” showing how their identity as either Palestinians or Israelis is manifested on the streets of New York. He chose members from each community, of various genders and occupations (such as subway workers, cooks, and businessmen). Each participant read a scripted part from a hybrid document in which Attie merged the surprisingly similar Israeli Declaration of Independence from 1948 with the Palestinian Declaration of Independence from 1988 (Algiers).

The running time for the work is approximately eleven minutes. The installation itself consists of eight 65-inch flat screens, mounted vertically in a freestanding circle so that the viewer is engulfed by life-size figures. The piece has been crafted and edited such that, akin to a Greek chorus, at times only one individual is speaking, or two, or eight, or none. Consequently viewers find themselves in a quasi “endless hall of mirrors,” of uncannily similar claims, assertions, and faces.

Exhibitions director Richard Klein notes, “Reconciliation is at the heart of MetroPAL.IS., yet ultimately Attie wanted to create a layered artwork that resists easy interpretation and defies expectations or preconceived notions as to what it means to be an Israeli, a Palestinian—and a New Yorker, or by extension, an American.”

Reception: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum will celebrate the opening of Shimon Attie: MetroPAL.IS. along with five other portraiture exhibitions at a reception where guests are invited to meet the artists on Sunday, January 30, 2011, from 3:30 to 5:30 pm ($7 Adults; $4 Children; FREE members, K-12 teachers, and children 18 and under).FREE onsite parking is available, as is round-trip transportation from the Metro North Katonah Train Station to the Museum. Please consult the schedule before confirming your plans. Also on view: Jenny Dubnau: Head On, James Esber: Your Name Here, Hope Gangloff: Love Letters, Thilo Hoffmann: High School Portraits, Timothy White: Portraits, as well

Artist: Shimon Attie was born in Los Angeles in 1957 and earned his MFA from San Francisco State University in 1990. His work focuses on how history, memory, and place shape and define communities, most recently in ambitious video installations that reference Baroque and Flemish painting. Such works include The Attraction of Onlookers (2006), commissioned by the BBC to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of a Welsh coal mining disaster; Racing Clocks Run Slow: Archaeology of a Racetrack (2008), commissioned to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Bridgehampton Auto Racing Track; and Sightings: The Ecology of an Art Museum (2008), commissioned by the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Attie’s work is in public collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; and the Museum of Modern Art (Berlinische Gallery), Berlin. He is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Image: The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum View from Main: (right to left) “Old Hundred” and The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum Photo © Peter Arron/Esto

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877
Tel 203.438.4519, Fax 203.438.0198

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