Friday, September 21, 2012
MICHAEL RAKOWITZ "The Breakup"
When viewing Michael Rakowitz’ “The Breakup” at Lombard Freid Projects Gallery, one is presented with a multi-sensory exhibit. A calm, recorded voice of a man comes quietly from a radio, narrating a documentary and occasionally dropping familiar names: Paul, John, Ringo, George, and is interspersed with short musical clips from various catchy tunes by the Beatles. It’s impossible not to be drawn towards the glass-top tables, with cursive handwriting scrawled on the surface with permanent marker- the text hovering ghostlike over an orderly and historic display of Arabic/Palestinian maps, magazines, record covers, Israeli currency, and Beatles memorabilia, reminiscent of a collection of pinned butterflies caught forever in a tragic moment.
While the connections between the Middle East and the Beatles breakup are not at first easily understood, one begins to piece together the similarities between a Palestinian attempt to unite their nations and the Beatles’ brief reunion. Paintings referencing the color palate of the album cover “Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” line the walls alongside collages combining images of the Beatles with flags and symbols of the Middle East, leading the viewer towards a dark room where a video clip plays the only “reunited” Beatles’ performance, followed by a video of a Palestinian band playing Beatles’ songs with arabic instruments.
Offering a reserved, “historical” collection, “The Breakup” is an unexpected juxtaposition of two disparate “failures” of collaboration.