Qais Assali: if you Like you can show my works in galleries

    Video from Qais Assali, if you Like you can show my works in galleries, 2017-20. Video, inkjet print on architectural bond paper and copy paper, acrylic on canvas, archival material, ink on sketching paper. Dimensions variable. 

    Qais Assali's if you Like you can show my works in galleries was exhibited at SculptureCenter as part of In Practice: Total Disbelief (2020).

    In 2017, Qais Assali received three DHL packages from an administrator of the commercial art fair Art Chicago (now EXPO Chicago). The parcels contained photographs, drawings, paintings, a video on VHS tape, and handwritten letters, and were bundled as an unsolicited submission to the 2004 edition of the fair by an artist who described himself as an Iranian living in Afghanistan. He included a photocopy of his passport. This artist’s deaccessioned materials ostensibly “found” their way to Assali, who is from Palestine, through a presumed regional sympathy for the plight of an Iranian artist. Contending with this assumption, Assali’s artwork reproductions, amended catalogues, lectures, and video cast him in a one-sided relationship of magnetism and repulsion with a total stranger, playing out a complex, perverse, and somewhat enticing form of misrecognition.

    A new video included in if you Like you can show my works in galleries concludes (almost) Assali’s yearslong engagement with this artist’s work, position, and the uncomfortably erotic overture he made to orient himself toward an American art context. Conflicted about institutional art’s tendency toward reductive (or misleading) biographical sketches, but also conscious of his own artistic trajectory and strategies for navigating the values and decorum of American arts organizations, Assali finds a stark but intimate difference between personal feelings of affinity for another artist and framing imposed from outside.

    Video co-directed and written by Jose Luis Benavides. Special thanks to Fia Backström, Alexis Brocchi, Jenny Knowlton and Or Zubalsky. Also John M. Flaxman Library - School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Overlook Place and EXPO Chicago.