Laveronica arte contemporanea is proud to present the first Italian exhibition of works by the artist Uriel Orlow. The exhibition, entitled “Deep Opacity” and curated by Lorenzo Bruni, unfolds through recent works that are in dialogue with new “work in progress” composed of photographic collages and research from the artist’s recent visit to the storage and archives of South African art museums. This particular narrative display raises important questions in our era of the “global village” and “instant communication”: Can images actually serve as a trace or device with which to narrate today’s redefinition of personal and collective identity?

“Deep Opacity” conceived in close dialogue with curator Lorenzo Bruni, is composed of three existing works exhibited alongside a new series of photographic collages. The expressive media characterizing the works here vary from audio installation to video, a slide show to photo-collage, and painted canvases to the display of texts. It is by no means a retrospective but rather a glimpse into the artist’s broader research on historical blind spots that connect with the present: one series of works focuses on the 14 cargo ships that were stranded in the Suez Canal for eight years as a result of its closure in 1967 following the Six-Day War; while the audio-work Unmade Film: The Voiceover is a guided tour of Kfar Shaul, a mental hospital in Jerusalem that occupies the buildings of the Palestinian village Deir Yassin, which was depopulated in a massacre by Zionist paramilitaries in 1948.

In the style Orlow has now consolidated, these events in recent European history are observed as if from the inside to underscore the psychological and physical effects of the particular social context in which they occurred, in order to offer an alternative to the abstract and global interpretation usually found in history books from which they are omitted. In effect, his personal contribution to reflection on the use of archives to reactivate the reservoir of collective memory lies in creating a “dialogical short circuit” between world systems and specific experiences, between global and local, between narrative fiction and imagined reality.

Orlow creates the condition of suspension and stalemate that can powerfully be perceived in his installations as a way of forcing the spectator to take an active role in interpreting the micro and macro-narratives he evokes and represents. In the exhibition conceived for La Veronica the spectator is faced with works pertaining to different projects, in order to open up a direct reflection on the role art might play within society from which it stems and that nourishes it in turn. This radical position, which sees the artist share with the public a metanarrative re-reading of the concept of history and his own works, is manifested from the outset by the presence of Orlow’s most recent work, entitled Deep Opacity, which gives the exhibition its title. This project takes the provisional form of photo-collages amalgamated from pictures taken during the artist’s recent trip to South Africa; this new work is intentionally presented in its germinal state and as a work in progress, to underscore the “laboratory” approach of the exhibition.

As a result, the spectator – to a far greater extent than usual – is forced to reflect on an “ethics of the gaze” in the age of intangible information and on the concept of “belonging” and “collective memory”. In fact, in this case the artist’s quasi-archival approach, which usually leads him to emphasize the pauses and interstices of meaning within the historical events he takes into consideration, is applied to his personal creative process and the general narrative process found in the pervasive use of online posts and visual messages. The artist’s need to delve beneath the surface of mass distributed pictures to explore mystery and evocation, above and beyond what is stated, unquestionably emerges from the image chosen for the exhibition invitation, taken from the series entitled “Porous Present”. The artist offers this about his approach: “Porous Present is a large series of images of empty billboards taken in Armenia when I was working on ‘Remnants of the Future’ in 2010. They struck me in different ways: they frame at once nothing, the sky, the landscape and themselves but they are also a sign of an in-between state, a limbo between two systems, the aftermath of Soviet communism and the arrival of market capitalism which has erected its infrastructure but not yet filled it with advertising.”

Uriel Orlow (b. Zurich, 1973; lives and works in London) uses video, photography, drawing and sound to create multi-media projects in which he structures information tied to recent historical events. His installations give concrete form to micro--‐histories tied to everyday events that often do appear in history books or newspaper articles. His work is based on juxtaposing the practice of archival research with images he produces during his personal visit to places in order to create an intuitive montage that leaves room for the spectator’s ability to imagine empathetically, to reflect on the concept of belonging, the past and the prospect of a collective future.

He has participated in numerous solo and collective exhibitions internationally, notably: Unmade Film, Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris and Al Ma'mal, Jerusalem, 2013; Trip and Traveling, curated by Lorenzo Bruni, Klaipeda Cultural Center, Klaipeda, Lithuania, 2013; Awakening, Aichi Triennale, 2013; Time is a Place, curated by Felicity Lunn, Kunsthaus / Centre PasquArt, Biel, 2012; The Deep of the Modern, curated by Cuauhtemoc Medina and Katerina Gregos, Manifesta 9, Genk, 2012; Chewing the Scenery, curated by Andrea Thal, 54th Venice Biennale / Swiss Pavilion, 2011; Selected, UK tour including CCA Glasgow, Brighton Festival and Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2011; Essays on Geopoetics, curated by José Roca, Alexia Tala, Paola Santoscoy and Cauę Alves, 8th Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil, 2011; Third Guangzhou Triennial, Guandong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, 2008.

Laveronica Gallery
Via Grimaldi, 55
Modica (RG) 97015 Italy
Ph. +39 093 2948803

Opening hours
Tuesday - Sunday
From 2.30pm to 8.30pm

Related images

  1. Uriel Orlow, Yellow Limbo, HD video with stereo sound, 14′, 2011
  2. Uriel Orlow, Porous Present, 2014, c-print 32x42
  3. Uriel Orlow, The Voiceover, installation view, CCS Paris