Maria Thereza Alves | Jimmie Durham

The Middle Earth

Mediterranean Project by Maria Thereza Alves & Jimmie Durham

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In Spring of 2018, the IAC hands the totality of its space over to artists Maria Thereza Alves and Jimmie Durham for their project devoted to the Mediterranean, called The Middle Earth

This new and original collaboration comes from the artists’ desire to explore together the territory where they live, in a poetic and critical fashion.
After a period in Marseille, followed by Rome and then Naples where they regularly travel, Alves and Durham settled on the coast of the “inland sea” following a continuous and committed period of roaming that led them away from the American continent and all the way to Europe. In a similar vein to Jimmie Durham’s Eurasian Project, begun in 1994 just after his departure from America, and the project Seeds of Change that Maria Thereza Alves began in the port of Marseille in 1999, the idea of The Middle Earth began to form little by little, in search of that vast continent, not at all defined by borders, but rather something that is completely imagined and dreamed, and thus, endless.
The two artists, who both have their own distinct, internationally recognized, artistic practices, reveal common influences that come, on the one hand from a political engagement that flows through their respective work, and on the other hand common areas of research, that deal with notions of territory and authority.
One can effectively observe these questions in the work of both artists, and in both cases, their thought processes are engaged in the same criticism of the ideological and normative frameworks that shape people’s relationships with the world.

Starting from the matrix form of relationship that exists between their artistic practice and the places that they move through or live in, the two artists will work in collaboration with one another, embarking upon new research at the IAC that deals with the mixed heritage of the Mediterranean.
Conceived as a "tragic poem" and a "mosaic", The Middle Earth is organized in a succession of ten "sections" in correspondence with each other. At a distance from any encyclopedic dimension, the exhibition mixes paleochristian archaeological remains and plants, Greek myths and contemporary paintings, flints and inscriptions on the walls, detritus and Egyptian effigies. Carried along by the singing of the mermaids and the notes of the oud, the visitor is thus led to weave a bundle of open relationships. In a poetic way, however, the Mediterranean project deconstructs the codes of this cradle of Western civilization. With a horizontal approach, freed from the western anthropocentric conception and the dualist principles separating man from nature, Maria Thereza Alves and Jimmie Durham design here another cosmogony.

Trans-historical, the project does not try to avoid other questions that are raised, whether they concern the political or climatic upheavals that play out in the Mediterranean which generates contradictory projections within the collective imagination. Considered as both idyllic territory and zone of conflict, a place of both inclusion and exclusion, this sea, common to so many different peoples, is an undefinable, vertiginous place.
If there may be the idea that everything fades, everything disappears or is reborn in the Mediterranean, it is precisely by activating the possible porosities between things that other stories are created and that poetry becomes gesture.
IAC → EXHIBITIONS → in situ → Maria Thereza Alves + Jimmie Durham → The Middle Earth
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