Iman Issa, Winning Artist, Abraaj Group Art Prize 2013
Common Elements, Fifty-five text panels, fourteen framed C-prints, and five wooden sculptures on white plinths, dimensions variable
Iman Issa works through a process of careful refinement, whereby specific information is pared down to its essence and then re-imagined through a personal and subjective lens. ‘Common Elements’ applies this methodology to the genre of autobiography, a curiously hybrid literary mode in which individual and collective narratives are already intertwined. Issa extracts bits of text from five accounts by four intellectuals; decontextualised, these fragments shed their individuality and blend into a single collective narrative of life dedicated to thought, culture and justice. Punctuating and amplifying the text panels, the accompanying photographs and sculptures hover ambiguously, between significant and ordinary, between memento and object. Like much of Issa’s oeuvre, Common Elements is driven by a desire to determine familiar structures of form, language, memory and experience where the individual intersects with and opens up into the collective.
Iman Issa lives and works between Cairo and New York. She employs a variety of mediums including text, sound, sculpture, photography, and video in her work, to raise questions about the relationship between language, history and personal cognition and articulation. She was recently awarded the inaugural FHN MACBA Award, and is represented by Rodeo, Istanbul.