carlier | gebauer

Asta Gröting, Blinded and the best Light, 2020, special screening for SUNDAY OPEN, 1 November, 2020, 12-6 pm

Showroom, Gallery Weekend Berlin, 2020

Emily Wardill, Night for Day, Secession, Vienna, until 8 November, 2020

Cecilia Edefalk & Pakui Hardware, "– a breath? a name? – the ways of worldmaking", Biennale Gherdëina 7, until 20 October 2020

Iman Issa, Surrogates, Kunstmuseum, Sankt Gallen, until 9 August, 2020

Cecilia Edefalk, Homecoming, Norrköppings Konstmuseum, until 17 January, 2021

Iman Issa, Surrogates, exhibition view at Kunstmuseum, Sankt Gallen, 2019-2020.
Photo: Sebastian Stadler.


curated by Nadia Veronese

The Egyptian artist Iman Issa’s (*1979, Cairo) sculptures and installations point to historical as well as current cultural heritages—for instance, monuments and their social and political character. Based on existing memorials, artifacts, and instruments, the artist develops formally abstract sculptures, some of which include references to texts, which deliberately create links to historical artworks, cultural goods, and events. They do this without revealing their social and geographic origin or cultural context—without pointing to quotations and sources.

Through formal reduction and abstraction, in her almost encyclopedically conceived spatial settings the artist focuses on the collective approach to art history, cultural history, and current events as well as the power of depiction. She translates historical and contemporary aspects into a new visual language with diverse levels of meaning.

More Information

Iman Issa uses a variety of forms and strategies to investigate the political and personal associations of history, language and the object. She creates ambiguous, poetic displays through the juxtaposition of text and object. Heritage Studies, the artist’s most recent series, draws its name from a field of academic and applied inquiry that relates to the understanding and use of history. Rather than proposing a stable reading of history, Heritage Studies examine dynamic sets of relationships — between cultures, sites, and artifacts — to articulate their relevance today. They are neither formal abstractions, nor “pared-down citations of reality,“ but attempts to communicate the act of perceiving the original objects and the relevance that they might hold for the present. “What do these new elements share with their sources if it is not the material, color, appearance, or shape?“ Issa asks “...they share a speech act. They are addressing or saying something similar to each other, and it is perhaps through doing that that they become the same.“

Iman Issa (b. 1979, Cairo) lives and works in Berlin. She is a recipient of the 2017 Vilcek Prize, the 2015 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award, the 2013 Abraaj Group Art Prize and HNF-MACBA Award in 2012 and was nominated for the Preis der Nationalgalerie 2017 among others. Recent exhibitions include: DAAD, Berlin; Kunstmuseum, St. Gallen; Recent group and solo exhibitions include Whitney Biennial, New York; Bielefelder Kunstverein, Bielefeld; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Kunsthalle Lissabon, Spike Island, Bristol; Lisbon; MACBA, Barcelona; Perez Museum, Miami; the 12th Sharjah Biennial; the 8th Berlin Biennial; MuHKA, Antwerp; New Museum, New York; and KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin. Her work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; MACBA, Barcelona; Guggenheim Museum, New York; and Magasin III, Stockholm among others.

Iman Issa, Surrogates, exhibition view at Kunstmuseum, Sankt Gallen, 2019-2020
Photo: Sebastian Stadler.

Heritage Studies is an ongoing series of paired sculptures and texts that explores the void between object and history, unsettling the stability of form and meaning as cultural objects navigating through time and space. Unlike her previous series, Heritage Studies focuses on artifacts from ethnographic and anthropological museums whose meanings are constructed by their designations which she feels have a "particular resonance and communicative ability in the present."

Iman Issa, Heritage Studies #26, 2017, from the series Heritage Studies
Brass, white wooden plinth, vinyl text

176 x 20 x 161,5 cm



Iman Issa, Heritage Studies #22, 2016
from the series Heritage Studies, Painted wood, vinyl text
68 x 245 cm

Edition of 3 + 2 AP

Iman Issa has been producing art since 2001 in various mediums including sculpture, text, video, and photography. Memory and familiarity permeate Issa's work as she navigates through history, language, and political and civic duty. She incorporates three major themes in her art: specificity, site, and movement. Curator Ryan Inoyue of Sharjah Biennial 12 writes that Issa has "developed an aesthetic that mines the latent meaning and transformational potential of objects, ideas, and figures that appear out of sync with our times."


Iman Issa, Heritage Studies #23, 2016
from the series Heritage Studies, brass, painted wood, vinyl text
141 x 127 cm

Edition of 3 + 2 AP

Many of her artworks have been inspired by existing monuments or objects but these initial sources of inspiration remain unknown. Hints are provided in subjective titles which describe something about the original work, but in subverting titular restrictions, Issa opens up her works for reinterpretation and communication. Her artwork is aesthetically minimalist and at times, incorporates various mediums to culminate in one artwork she calls a "display".