Wexner Center for the Arts

Shimon Attie: MetroPAL.IS.


Shimon Attie’s MetroPAL.IS., an immersive, multiple-channel video installation, dramatically tackles the complex and intensely problematic Arab-Israeli conflict with characters cast from the Palestinian and Israeli communities in New York City. Dressed in outfits that reflect their varied lifestyles and professions, each of the performers reads from a document created by Attie that combines sections of the Israeli Declaration of Independence (1948) and the Palestinian Declaration of Independence (1988). This hybrid document reveals a surprisingly significant overlap between the two original texts.

Eight 65-inch (vertical) monitors encircle viewers with one larger-than-life-size character on each screen. The characters appear in poses reminiscent of classical sculpture or baroque painting, with an almost orchestral flow of sound and text among them, enhancing the dramatic impact of the work. The complex editing and post-production work integral to creating this symphony of voices and the interaction among the individual monitors was completed during Attie’s residency as a visiting artist in the Wex’s Film/Video Studio Program in 2010.

Throughout Attie’s career, his work has focused on the formative aspects of communities, drawing on history, memories, and the significance of place. In recent years, his practice has shifted away from the projection of historic imagery on public architecture, turning towards ambitious, multichannel installations, such as MetroPAL.IS. Attie notes that video, as a time-based format, “lends itself to the kinds of conflation of past and present which is central to my work. In addition, creating multiple-channel, immersive works allow me to activate a given space, which is also something central to my artistic sensibility.”

A free gallery guide with an essay by Jennifer Lange, curator of the Film/Video Studio Program and of this exhibition, accompanies the show.

MetroPAL.IS. was commissioned by The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.