AboutLaure Genillard is pleased to announce Uriel Orlow's first solo show in London.
Taking as its starting point a number of sites in Northern Armenia near the Georgian and Turkish borders, Orlow's new body of work continues the artist's engagement with the spatial and pictorial conditions of history and memory. Remnants of the Future is a multi-part installation comprising video, photography and drawing.
Orlow's video focuses on Mush, a housing project just outside of the north Armenian town of Gyumri and named after the once flourishing Armenian town in Eastern Anatolia, which in 1915, during the Armenian genocide, became the site of massacres and deportations. Construction of the 'new' Mush began a few months after the major Spitak earthquake in 1988, which destroyed many of Gyumri's housing blocks and made thousands of people homeless. Promised by M. Gorbachev to be completed within two years, construction of the new Soviet-style suburb eventually came to an abrupt halt as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and the Russian construction workers were recalled by Moscow. The newly independent Armenian state did not have the means to finish this ambitious housing project and it has since remained in a ghostly state of incompletion and near desertion, inhabited by gleaners and migrating birds. The video is accompanied by a sound-scape by Mikhail Karikis using the radio waves emitted by dying stars (pulsars), which still reach us after the star has died and which were first mistaken for intelligent life messages from outer space.
A series of photographs explore the afterlife of a nearby textile factory, which had at one point produced over 50% of the Soviet Union's textiles. Reaching even further back into history is a series of drawings of fifty death masks including Lenin, Tolstoy, Eisenstein and Mayakovsky made by Sergey Merkurov, a Gyumri-born sculptor who became famous for his monumental sculptures throughout the Soviet Union. Tracing photographs of the actual masks, the drawings create a third-generation indexicality.
In his modular, multi-media installations the artist brings archival research and varying image-regimes into correspondence, exploring blind-spots of representation and following associative and conceptual threads that encompass memory, history and translation.
âOrlow's challenge to our desire for continuity is radical: the truth of this peripheral space is not one, he suggests, that can be told narratively. [â¦] Orlow's work asks us how we can read the past in a way which does not involve a simple hierarchy with the present. More than this: he wants to know what history is and how it binds itself to an institution, a thing, a space, a face. These faces in the drawings are not there simply to be named, identified; their self-evidence is an enigma. The fragility of the whole project is its fidelity to its subject's fractured nature [â¦].' (Mike Sperlinger)