AFTER: Larissa Sansour

18 September - 7 November 2019 Gallery

Lawrie Shabibi is delighted to present AFTER, Larissa Sansour’s third solo exhibition at the gallery, featuring a new body of conceptual photographic works. 


The exhibition is inspired by her acclaimed film In Vitro, commissioned for the Danish Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. Staged in the town of Bethlehem decades after an eco-disaster, the science-fiction filmnarrates the story of a subterranean orchard and its young successor who’s fated to never see the town she is destined to replant. Inherited trauma, exile and collective memory are central themes that transcend into the 15 photographs featured in AFTER - part reconstructed production stills, part captured during the filming process. Developed in black and white for its stark, filmic quality, the images are intense, at times controversial, yet also sentimental and timeless, inviting the viewer to fill in their own narrative.


An installation of carefully composed monochrome photographs that echo the two-channel viewpoint of In Vitro dominates the show. Some of the works juxtapose alternate views of deserted spaces and belongings  –  shattered remains of a past that filled the void as former dwellers fled in the face of a natural calamity. In other instances, the two perspectives mirror or merge into one, emphasizing the intensity of the disaster and its centrality in defining the course of history, with the Bethlehem setting providing a narratively, politically and symbolically charged backdrop. A number of nostalgic works are presented as standalone images or photographic sequences reminiscent of film negatives. The subject matter of these stills reference the childhood memories of an elder generation - the final generation of Bethlehem to have lived a life above ground; the poets and custodians of collective memory. The exhibition also presents two photographic works, documenting scenes and aspects of In Vitro, captured during the production process.


Linking each of these works is Larissa Sansour’s fascination with the interplay between fiction and reality and the ever-evolving merger of myth and history which are defining themes in her practice. In itself, AFTER is an epitome of historical narratives, personal and collective memory in the aftermath of an apocalypse.