Emily Jacir / From Texas with love
JUNE 4 – JULY 18, 2010
Emily Jacir has been producing work in a range of strategies and media, including film, photography, social interventions, installation, performance, video, writing, and sound, since 1994. Recurrent themes in her practice include repressed historical narratives, land divisions, exile (both forced and voluntary), and the logic of the archive. Although her work is profoundly political, it doesn’t illustrate a particular position; rather, it attempts to deal with the social instabilities that come with war and separation. Jacir pays keen attention to individual, fleeting moments of privacy, restricted movement, and the disruption of a collective identity at the hands of political dislocation.
Geographic transcendence is an important aspect in Jacir’s work and underscores the inability that people sometimes have to overcome spiritual or physical limitations. It is through this realization that Jacir is compelled to focus on simple gestures by emphasizing their innate power to effect positive change. This generosity is expressed in her 2002 video project From Texas with Love. In the video, Jacir echoes her previous question by asking Palestinians what music they would choose if they could drive nonstop across their country for one hour. She compiled their suggestions on a soundtrack and played it during an uninterrupted road trip across Texas. The resulting video is a view through the car’s windshield accompanied by the soundtrack of Jacir’s compilation. The intimacy of the experience is enhanced by the viewer’s ability to select from more than 50 songs, including “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra and “Freedom” by Jimi Hendrix, along with a substantial selection of Middle Eastern music perhaps less familiar to a Western audience. Like Ramallah/New York, the video footage of the Texas landscape reinforces a visual connection to the Israeli-Palestinian region where Jacir lives. Unlike that project, though, From Texas with Love presents an interactive experience that constantly changes depending on the individual viewer’s musical choice. The ability of the artist to enable a subjective experience that fluctuates between the expectations of the viewer and the anticipated effect by the artist reminds us that the autonomy and dignity of the individual rests on his or her ability to exert free will. Just as important, however, is the sense of intimacy and longing that Jacir creates by allowing one’s self to get lost, if only for a moment, in a song or a landscape that draws us closer to our perfect home.
About the Des Moines Art Center's Single-channel program.
Emily Jacir (Palstinian, born 1970)
From Texas with Love, 2002
Courtesy of the artist and Alexander and Bonin Gallery, New York