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Review: Some People; Aziz + Cucher

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By Aporia, Pure and Simple - SUBMITTED PHOTO

The poem, "Some People," by Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska begins: "Some people fleeing some other people./ In some country under the sun/and some clouds." The everyday simplicity of these lines - and the menace they convey - are the inspiration for the four-part digital/video exhibition of the same name by the two-man collaborative team of Aziz + Cucher at the IMA.

Three years in the making, the works in this show represent the artists' attempt to find metaphors that might, in some way, begin to cut through the toxic knot that binds people in the Middle East in a seemingly endless feedback loop of suspicion, resentment, violence and death. While the artists both have personal ties to the region, they adamantly deny a political agenda, hoping, it seems that the eloquence of these thoughtfully constructed, image-driven pieces might move viewers toward fresh recognitions.

The first piece in their quartet consists of three large, suspended screens featuring a digital animation of a tower. A blizzard of particles dances in a perpetual motion that somehow simultaneously atomizes and reconstructs the architectural form. This is the most abstracted piece in the sequence.
The next installation envelops the viewer with eight wall-mounted screens, creating a vast sense of empty, arid landscape, like the floor of a truly dead sea. The screens are populated with people, in constantly, often suddenly, changing perspectives, performing an energetic choreography of distress and vexation. It's a harrowing, mesmerizing creation of remarkable depth.

Next is a seeming documentary cum newsflash about an archaeological dig as paranoid conspiracy. "Those who own history own the land," intones a crackling, Orwellian voice as the fragments of history are beclouded by dust.
Finally, in the show's final room, six screens display looped video images of daily life in the Middle East - people on city streets, in cafes, by the seaside. These screens are juxtaposed with a single, large surface showing the artists, dressed as Beckett-like clowns, going about the business of assembling the exhibition we've just experienced. It's a grace note on the need to create - and the limits of - art.

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