We Are The Ones To Go To The Mountain consists of a suite of sixteen hand-embroidered vertical landscapes. These new works continue ongoing dialogues in Nassar’s practice between his own embroidery and its connection to Palestinian places and cultural traditions. Contemplating his personal experience traversing the metaphorical gulf of diaspora, yearning to be part of something, yet remaining always an outsider peeking through a veil, Nassar’s work questions the cultural heritage and inheritance of diasporic persons.
Working against the natural horizontality of landscape, Nassar pushes these new works into something unstable and unexpected, opening the door to formal experimentation. As your eyes move from the clearly defined mountain and sky at the top of the composition down toward the bottom, the works veer into abstraction; recognizable forms melt away with abrupt and playful color changes. Nassar’s compositions consist of two important elements: the shifting colored threads from which the imaginary landscapes emerge and the embroidered patterns, which are based on specific Palestinian motifs such as the Gaza style cypress “Sarou,” the Palestinian rose, and a diamond amulet.
In the center of the gallery, Nassar fabricated a simple wooden bench with brass inlay inspired by Syrian inlay and furniture. A cushion with thin embroidered stripes rests on top of the bench. Over several recent exhibitions, Nassar has expanded his practice to include furniture, metal work, and textiles drawing from techniques and materials used throughout the Arab world, introducing these elements into the display of his work. This move of incorporating craftwork inspiration from the Levant or Arab world in general, extends the provocations of Nassar’s work to the pan-Arab diaspora in general, and by extension immigrant and diaspora experiences.
Frequently drawing inspiration from literature, the titles for each of the works come from Lebanese-American artist and poet Etel Adnan’s essay Journey to Mount Tamalpais that discusses nature, art, and the relationship between them. Kept as infinitive verbs—To Carry The Moon; To Melt In Mist; To Climb, To Walk, To Breathe; etc.—the titles reveal potential action detached from subjects or modifiers, the English verb in its simplest form. A zine accompanying the exhibition employs each of the titles in sequence, constructing a new poem derived from Adnan’s writing.
Jordan Nassar (b.1985, New York, NY) earned his BA at Middlebury College in 2007. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions globally at institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; BRIC, Brooklyn, NY; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; Abrons Art Center, New York, NY; Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY; Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA; James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY; Evelyn Yard, London, UK, Exile Gallery in Berlin, Germany, and The Third Line, Dubai, UAE. His work is included in the current group exhibition Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950 – 2019 at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the current Asia Society Triennial: We Do Not Dream Alone in New York. Nassar lives and works in New York City.