enter ghost exit ghost catalogue
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DESCRIPTIONThe newest exhibition from Bashir Makhoul at Yang Gallery • Beijing.
jacket catalog.indd 1 25/02/2012 17:03
ENTER GHOST, EXIT GHOST
Editor: Gordon Hon
Curator: Gordon Hon
Essays: Prof. Ryan Bishop, Prof. Jonathan Harris, Gordon Hon
Project manager: Ray Yang
Research and co-ordination: Dr August Jordan Davis and Ray Yang
Design: Ray Yang
All images are courtesy of the artist unless otherwise mentioned in captions. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the artists and authors.
Printed by Shandong Aomeiya Printing Co. Ltd. ChinaFirst Published in 2012, China Bashir Makhoul and authors
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,UVWPHWWKHDUWLVW%DVKLU0DNKRXOWZHQW\\HDUVago when we were students together at Liverpool, and we have been colleagues and collaborators HYHUVLQFH$OWKRXJKWKHLGHDIRUWKLVVSHFLFVKRZemerged from a lengthy interview I conducted ZLWKKLPHQWLWOHG)RXQGLQ&RQLFWWKHVHHGVIRULWJREDFNWRRXUHDUOLHVWFROODERUDWLRQRQKLVUVWnational exhibition in the UK. That initial show, from FDOOHG$O+LMDUDUHIHUVWRWKHVWRQHVXVHGLQthe Intifada uprisings of the late 1980s and early 1990s against Israeli occupation. This protracted XQUHVWOLWHUDOO\DVKDNLQJRIIRIXQWHQDEOHSROLWLFDOconditions, saw a great deal of intra-Palesenian violence. The show proved to be critical of all sides RIWKHFRQLFWDQGGLGVRWKURXJKDEVWUDFWLRQDQGoblique imagery. Just as Intifada was a shaking off of constraints, so Makhoul was shaking off his status as a local artist, becoming gaining national and international attention for addressing through is DUWLVVXHVRIJOREDOLPSRUW+HUHDUHWKHUVWVWRQHVRIWKHXSULVLQJZHQGLQ(QWHU*KRVW([LW*KRVWIt was a departure for Makhoul along a two-decade journey of politically active artistic production, one that arrives at the current show: an installation that returns again to very similar concerns and the historical arc and long duration of current political VWUXJJOHV-XVWDVDVWRQHLQLJKWKDVDSDUDEROLFDUFDWUDMHFWRU\VR0DNRXOVWZHQW\HDUVRIDUWLVWLFengagement has a trajectory, but it is one that covers much of the same ground again and again from different angles. His work is always a return that looks like an arrival.
ENTER GHOST, EXIT GHOST
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0\HVVD\IRUWKHFDWDORJXHWR$O+LMDUDSURYHGto be a departure for both the artist and myself: IRUWKHDUWLVWDVDQDWLRQDOJXUHDQGIRUPHDVa collaborator commenting on, working with and shaping the artwork. The dialogical and FROODERUDWLYHQDWXUHRI0DNKRXOVZRUNKDVexpanded for the new work, leading the artist and myself to assemble a team to produce this large-scale piece and develop along the lines of theoretical, production and technical perspectives. The technical and production sides of the operation were furthered by Ray Yang and Summer Lin, working closely with the Yang Gallery in Beijing, while the theoretical elements are supplemented by contributions from Professor Ryan Bishop and Professor Jonathan Harris. Articles by Bishop and Harris are contained in this catalogue.
The team members, especially those that pertain to production and technical development, played DQLQWHJUDOUROHLQWKHUHDOL]DWLRQRI0DNKRXOVvision for this large-scale installation. It has two components: a full-sized, interior maze and a large cardboard model of an Arab town or refugee camp. The walls of the maze are 2.4m high and have a total combined length of over 100m. They are clad in lenticular micro-lens panels depicting walls, windows, doors and various architectural details. The images appear to move, changing DQGXFWXDWLQJDVWKHYLHZHUPRYHVWKURXJKWKHmaze. Images are repeated on different panels to deliberately add to the disorientating effect. At the end of the maze there is a large open space (approx. 15m x 7m) revealing a model consisting of hundreds of cardboard boxes apparently stacked randomly against the gallery walls and around the RRU:LQGRZVDQGGRRUVKDYHEHHQFXWLQWRWKHboxes to create rudimentary model houses. The lenticular images are made from photographs of
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buildings and streets in East Jerusalem, Hebron and some of the larger Palestinian refugee FDPSVVXFKDV6KXIDWLQWHUVSHUVHGZLWKLPDJHVof the cardboard model. This does not become apparent until the viewer successfully makes their way through the maze to the model. The project raises questions about the kinds of spaces that KDYHHPHUJHGLQVLWHVRIFRQLFWDQGLQWKHXUEDQmargins of globalization. Central to the project LVWKHLGHDRIVSHFWUDOVSDFHDVVSDFHVWKDWDUHcreated between the virtual and the real such as mock cities built for training in urban warfare, the spectral, parallel world of surveillance, CAD inspired urban developments and the interactions and confusions between the virtual and the real in the urbanization of global capitalism and FRQLFW7KHLQVWDOODWLRQSOD\VZLWKRXUDPELYDOHQWrelationship with these kinds of spaces in which the pleasures and thrill of the maze are partly depend upon disorientation and fear.
:KLOHVHHGVRIWKHH[KLELWLRQFDQEHIRXQGLQ0DNKRXOVHDUOLHUZRUNVLWZDVWKHH[KLELWLRQ5HWXUQ(2007) at the Shenzhen Museum of Art China that provided the most direct catalyst. For this show, Makhoul was interested in the idea of return as a philosophical and political problem and felt that the lenticular, with its strange, indeterminate status within the regime of the image was the perfect medium. It does not carry the historical baggage of photography, painting or cinema, nor has it WWHGZLWKLQWKHWKHRUHWLFDOGHEDWHVRQWKHLPDJHand optical technologies. For most people it is associated with advertising rather than art. More VSHFLFDOO\LWDSSHDOHGWR0DNKRXOEHFDXVHLW
hovered, quite literally, between the still and moving LPDJHDQGLQWKHVSHFLFXVHWRZKLFKKHSXWLWcreated temporal and spatial interference within the image that was analogous to the idea of return as a form of historical and territorial interference.:KDWZDVSDUWLFXODUO\VWULNLQJDERXWWKDWH[KLELWLRQwas the extent to which the work affected WKHYLHZHUVUHODWLRQVKLSWRWKHVSDFH'XULQJconversations with the artist while I was working on a catalogue essay for the Return exhibition it became apparent that Makhoul, who had been preoccupied by the temporal nature of the work during its production, had become increasingly excited by its spatial potential during its installation. It occurred to him that it would be possible to FRQVWUXFWDVSHFWUDOVSDFHHQWLUHO\EDVHGRQWKLVpeculiar effect created by the movement of the viewer. This has lead to the development of the current project; Enter Ghost, Exit Ghost.
7KHWLWOHFRPHVIURP6KDNHVSHDUHVVWDJHGLUHFWLRQVIRUWKHJKRVWVUHSHDWHGDSSHDUDQFHVand disappearances in Hamlet. It was these stage directions that Derrida used in Spectres of Marx to demonstrate the necessity of repetition and return in the indeterminate ontology of the ghost and in which it is always a question of repetition: a spectre is always a revenant. One cannot control its comings and goings because it begins by coming back. Derrida creates an ontological maze or, rather, an hauntological maze that resonates strongly with the status of the image and is particularly apparent in the unstable pictorial space of the lenticular. At the same time the stage directions draw attention to the ghost as a technical problem which is necessarily solved by technology whether it is the ropes and trapdoors of renaissance theatre or the CGI of contemporary cinema. Theatre is a technology of illusion and the
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ghost in Hamlet is in part born from that technology was written because of the ropes and trapdoors. Like that other theatrical trick; the play within the play, the ghost is the illusion within the illusion and draws our attention to the stage as a machine for SURGXFLQJLOOXVLRQV:LWKWKHGHYHORSPHQWRIRSWLFDOand electronic technologies the illusion moved into a different register and these new machines produced different kinds of ghosts. Perhaps most VLJQLFDQWO\WKHVSDFHLWVHOIEHFDPHSXUHO\LOOXVRU\DORQJZLWKWKHVSHFWUDOJXUHVWKDWPRYHZLWKLQLWAlthough the cinema could create the illusion of YDVWVSDFHVRQDDWVXUIDFHLWFRXOGVWLOOQRWGRwithout the stage, and the sets were sometimes as huge in reality as the illusory world on the screen.
7KHWKHDWULFDOVWDJHRUWKHOPVHWDUHQHFHVVDULO\spaces that cannot be entered, the illusion depends upon it. However a gallery is sense of physically entering a set that Makhoul is using in Enter Ghost, Exit Ghost. There is no attempt to create an illusion of a real space, in fact quite the opposite; he is creating an illusory space in reality. The walls are clad with images of other walls that are constantly shifting as we move through it, emphasising the fact that we are entering the unreliable domain of the image and in which spatial and architectural integrity is undermined. The space and the image collaborate to disorientate us; leading us back on ourselves to pass through the same space, which, approached from a different direction, have FRPSOHWHO\FKDQJHG:HPD\UHFRJQLVHVRPHspaces and architectural details but because they are repeated throughout the installation we cannot even rely upon our memories.
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This sense of confusion combined with th