Notes from Afar
March 6 through May 23, 2015
Opening Preview, Friday, March 6, 6-8pm
108 E 16 Street
New York, NY 10003
Talwar Gallery is pleased to announce Notes from Afar, an exhibition which brings into conversation two expansive works by Allan deSouza. On view is The World Series, a body of photographs the artist created in response to Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, and a new video work, Ark of Martyrs, inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness. Both series refer to historical texts and use techniques of dictation and translation to arrive at entirely different and independent works, which can still, however, be tracked back to their sources.
The World Series, inspired by Lawrence’s iconic 1941 series, engages with the experience of life in an increasingly globalizing world. While Lawrence’s paintings document the specific migration of African Americans from the South to Northern cities, deSouza presents a visual “script” for a fictional migration to becoming American, seen through the signage and psychology of metaphorical and political sites. Adhering by way of a resurfacing wit, deSouza’s photographs depict a world characterized by ambiguity and jarring disorientation.
The video, Ark of Martyrs (2014), presents the first five pages of deSouza’s rewriting of Joseph Conrad’s infamous 1899 novel, Heart of Darkness, set in what was then Belgian Congo. The video presents audio narration of Conrad’s original text synched to deSouza’s scrolling rewritten, rhyming text, requiring the viewer to follow both by emulating simultaneous translation. Where Conrad’s narrator, Marlow, contrasts the “civility” of London’s River Thames with the “savagery” of the Congo River, deSouza’s narrator, Garbo, recounts “civilization” as a wedding party on an adrift cruise ship, its revelers on the brink of their own hedonistic self-destruction. Mimicking mass surveillance and data-collection, Garbo eavesdrops on conversations and the uncensored mental chatter of the assembled guests, creating an effusive portrait of the contemporary with recurring reference to news events and social anxieties, from sexual desire to gender dysphoria, from Desert Storm to bank bailouts, from the “Arab Spring” to global warming.