Larissa Sansour

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Larissa Sansour

Biography

Born in Jerusalem, Sansour studied Fine Art in Copenhagen, London and New York, and earned her MA from New York University. Her work is interdisciplinary, immersed in the current political dialogue and utilizes video art, photography, experimental documentary, the book form and the internet.

Sansour borrows heavily from the language of film and pop culture. By approximating the nature, reality and complexity of life in Palestine and the Middle East in general to visual forms normally associated with entertainment and televised pastime, her grandiose and often humorous schemes clash with the gravity expected from works commenting on the region. References and details ranging from sci-fi and spaghetti westerns to horror films converge with Middle East politics and social issues to create intricate parallel universes in which a new value system can be decoded.

Sansour’s work has been exhibited worldwide in international biennials, galleries, museums, film festivals and on the internet and is featured in many art publications. Her work recently featured in the Third Guangzhou Triennial in China, the Busan Biennale in South Korea, PhotoCairo4 in Egypt, the Istanbul Biennale and the Liverpool Biennial. Her most recent film A Space Exodus was nominated in the short film category at the Dubai International Film Festival.

In 2010, she launched her graphic novel “Nonel and Vovel”, a joint project with artist Oreet Ashery. The book appeared first at the Venice Biennale bookshops in August and was also launched at the Tate Modern, UK, the Brooklyn Museum, USA, and Nikolaj Kunsthal in Denmark. Recent solo shows include exhibitions at Kulturhuset in Stockholm, La Bank Galerie in Paris, Depo in Istanbul and Jack the Pelican Gallery in NY.

In late 2011, Sansour’s work “Nation Estate” caused a controversy when it was pulled out of the prestigious Lacoste Elysée Prize. Following the incident, Nation Estate has generated much interest and is scheduled to feature in solo and group shows world wide throughout 2012.

Sansour lives and works in London, UK.

The Work

The dichotomy of belonging to and being removed from the very same piece of land – be it physically, mentally, administratively, militarily or otherwise – is central to my work.
While ordinary understandings of identity are linked to the idea of belonging to some kind of geographical unit – a region, a land, a country – for most Palestinians, the experience of being removed, exiled or cut off from the very same place they belong to and identify with is just as crucial for their self-understanding. In my work, the notion of belonging manifests itself in anything from architecture, ownership and geography to social relations, local produce and gastronomy. In contrast, tangible restrictions on mobility – walls, fences, checkpoints – maintain a permanent sense of being cut off, uprooted and kicked out.

In my artistic practice, I investigate critical strategies of resistance to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to clichés that are present both in the world’s understanding of Arabs as well as in the making of art. My work tackles issues such as terminology and its effect on the unconscious collective understanding of the crisis in the Middle East, artistic agency and politics, representation of victim and oppressor, the psychology of victim-hood, race issues and Orientalism, history and its documentation and the role of art in engraving as well as subverting a historical narrative.

My work is interdisciplinary and utilizes video art, photography, experimental documentary, the book form and the internet. I try to contextualize Middle Eastern politics and culture within a more universal language related to pop culture, film and music. References and details ranging from sci-fi and spaghetti westerns to horror films converge with Middle East politics and social issues to create intricate parallel universes in which a new value system can be decoded.

Useful Links:
Official Website
Larissa Sansour on Vimeo
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