Stepping into the usually big, bright space of the New Art Exchange’s Main Gallery, you are presented with three smaller, dark rooms. Vinyl astronaut figurines dotted around one wall, on the others three composite photographs hang, all facing porcelain dishes, featured in the video work. The rooms to the side have been converted into cinema screens, showing two of Larissa Sansour’s video work. Nation Estate (2012) and In the Future they ate from the Finest Porcelain (2015) take well known concepts from modern sci-fi and fantasy, civilisations forced indoors, modern fabrics and technology, to present a dystopian vision of Palestine – Sansour’s home.
Pulling iconic imagery, architecture and dress from her home town and placing it in stereotypical dystopian settings, and then adding in the element of archaeology, Sansour presents a fresh vision, playing on what the viewer already knows of dystopian visions of the future and the published image of Palestine, so that it is familiar enough to be believable. The single person narrative also leaves the viewer wanting to explore more into this society that Sansour has presented.
The final video piece shown in the exhibition is the earliest, made in 2009. A Space Exodus presents Sansour as a female astronaut, on a solo mission to a far out world, claiming land in the name of Palestine. Recalling the imagery of the moon landing of 1969, Sansour has altered that well known narrative, firstly with the non-white woman in place of a white, male astronaut, and secondly with the Palestinian flag instead of the American one. The silence of the film reflects that of Gravity, accurately portraying the loneliness and intimidation of the vacuum.
Definitely a highlight in New Art Exchange’s calendar, Larissa Sansour’s In the Future they ate from the Finest Porcelain is open until March 13th 2016. Whilst there, check out Hyson Green Workshops, looking at the history of the local area, and The Necessary Practice, highlighting the struggle for creative students to secure employment after graduation.
Featured image taken from http://www.nae.org.uk/exhibition/larissa-sansour-in-the-future-they-ate/96