Taking A Journey Into The Collective Subconscious With Basma Alsharif’s Exhibition At The Museum Of Contemporary Art

Photos: Tiffany Shum

Basma Alsharif’s exhibition at MOCA intertwines four major works, each one presented as a staged setting. Using many different media, she takes us on journeys into the collective subconscious, exploring the tools we all use to understand the ghosts of history.

At the centre of the exhibition is a new work, A Philistine, 2018, that invites visitors to settle into an armchair and enter a story that moves backwards in time. The core element is a novella—a story, broken into three genres: History, Fantasy, and Erotica. Beginning in a present-day Lebanon, the narrative travels through 1935 Palestine, and ends in New Kingdom Egypt (16th-11th century B.C.E).

Alsharif stages each of her works in a familiar, domestic setting, often including plants and furniture. These intimate scenarios, invite us to spend time with the more nuanced content that is the focus of the work — in literature, images, and video. By editing together both sourced and created materials, Alsharif exposes those times in history that seem irrational, and impossible to tell from one point of view.

Alsharif’s exhibition opens at the same time as that of seminal filmmaker Chantal Akerman. The artists share many concerns – geopolitical definitions, the collapsing of histories and how we form individual versus collective memory.

*Twenty-five copies of the novella, in English and vernacular Arabic (in Palestinian Dialect) will be available to read within the space.

Basma Alsharif is an Artist/Filmmaker born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, raised between France, the U.S. and Gaza, she is currently based in Cairo. Alsharif has exhibited internationally including in New York City, Berlin; Sharjah; São Paulo, Murcia, Tokyo, and Paris.

A Philistine, by Basma Alsharif is supported by The Consortium Commissions – a project initiated by Mophradat with institutional partners including MOCA Toronto, Hammer Museum, LA; CCA, Glasgow and KW, Berlin.

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