Object of Desire

Exit Art, bitforms gallery and Renew Media are pleased to announce the world premiere of Internet artwork Object of Desire by Yael Kanarek, taking place Friday April 20 at Exit Art. The evening will begin with a talk by the artist at 7:15 PM and follow with a panel discussion.

Object of Desire is the third chapter in World of Awe, and online travelogue (www.worldofawe.net) that chronicles a search for lost treasure in a parallel world called Sunset/Sunrise. The project imagines a post-gender and post-national protagonist. Born from an observation that language defines borders and territory on the Internet, Object of Desire examines these borders, as the chapter is written in three languages: English, Arabic and Hebrew. Challenging the notion of fixed territory, thirteen scenes of the online project download from servers in four locations-—in Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Izmir and New York.

During the artist’s talk, Yael will guide the audience through several scenes, point to memes born in the Middle East and Mediterranean that are present in contemporary culture, and describe how three geographies—physical, virtual and fictional—overlap in this project.

For the panel, Yael invited colleagues to consider how the Internet enables the emergent of a post-national identity alongside burgeoning nationalism and the strengthening of nation-states by globalization. The evening will conclude with a Q&A.

Plausible Maps, Possible Worlds: Memories for a Post-National Future
Panel discussion
Moderator: Galit Eilat, Director, The Israeli Center for Digital Art
Livia Alexander, Executive Director, ArteEast
Hakan Topal, imam@xurban-collective
Michael Connor, Independent curator


Yael Kanarek (b. 1967, United States) is an internationally recognized artist who has developed a unique vocabulary of networked interfaces using photography, text, sculpture, and performance. For the past decade she has integrated a range of media into a visual system with epic proportions titled World of Awe (www.worldofawe.net). Grounded with an original narrative that expands the ancient tradition and genre of a traveler’s tale, Kanarek’s World of Awe explores connections between storytelling, travel, memory, and technology.

She was awarded the 2005 Renew Media Fellowship (funded by the Rockefeller Foundation) to create the third chapter Object of Desire, among other distinctions. Recently an artist in residence at Harvestworks, Kanarek created a collaborative album “Bit by Bit, Cell by Cell” released in 2005 by Innova Recordings. In 2002 the SFMOMA commissioned the second World of Awe chapter “Destruction & Mending”. In 2003 Turbulence.org commissioned ”Portal,” an interactive net.dance that is also part of the World of Awe Internet artwork. Selected for the 2002 Whitney Biennial, she has received grants from the Jerome Foundation, Foundation for the Arts, and The Alternative Museum and the recipient of the Netizens Webprize in addition to the CNRS/UNESCO Lewis Carroll Prix Argos in France. She is currently an honorary senior fellow at Eyebeam and represented by bitforms gallery. Late October 2007 she will open a solo exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York. Kanarek is the founder of Upgrade! International—a network of gatherings concerning art, technology and culture (theupgrade.net).

Galit Eilat is a Curator, Founding Director of DAL – The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon. She is co-editor in chief of Maarav– an online art and culture magazine– as well as a teacher in Tel Aviv University at the Department of Film and Television. She is currently an advisor for the Israel Museum in Jerusalem as well as member of the artistic director board of “Amanut Haaretz” annual festival for young Israeli art.
Livia Alexander is Executive Director of ArteEast, a New York-based international nonprofit organization that supports artists from the Middle East and its diasporas, raising awareness of their work through public events, exhibits, a dynamic online gallery and a resource-rich website. Dr. Alexander has curated and consulted on numerous film festivals focusing on the cinemas of the Middle East, including Music on the Nile: Fifty Years of Egyptian Musical Films, Debating Center & Margin: Minorities in the Middle East, and Crossing Borders: From Algerian to Beur Cinema. She holds a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies from NYU, where she wrote her dissertation about Palestinian and Israeli cinemas between the two Intifadas.

As Head of Exhibitions at the British Film Institute, Michael Connor is leading the development of a new exhibition space in London dedicated to artists’ film, video, and new media. The space, which will be sited within the National Film Theatre complex, opened to the public in Fall 2006. From 2002-2005, Connor worked as Curator at FACT (Foundation for Art & Creative Technology) based in Liverpool, where he curated and produced a wide range of exhibitions, events and projects for the gallery and online. Before moving to Liverpool, Connor resided in Austin, Texas, where he worked with Cinematexas Film Festival, wrote for the Austin Chronicle and taught media literacy to young people.

Hakan Topal studied Civil Engineering (BS) and Gender and Women Studies (MS) at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara. He is studying for his Ph.D. at the sociology department, New School For Social Research. He worked as a specialist at GISAM, Audio Visual Research Center at METU, Ankara, where he realized a number of video and digital works and gave courses on digital media production and contemporary visual arts. He is currently the New Media Projects Manager at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, since year 2000. As an artist, he made photo-essays, installations, performances and video films and held solo shows and group exhibitions. He is one of the core members of xurban_collective, together with pope (Guven Incirlioglu). Selected exhibitions with xurban_collective include Greater New York at PS1/MoMA, the 8th Istanbul Biennial, 49th Venice Biennial, Turkish Pavilion, among many others.

Yael Kanarek wishes to thank Kathy Brew, Arjun Appadurai and Michele Thursz.

Forthcoming solo exhibitions by Yael Kanarek featuring Object of Desire include:
Nelly Aman gallery, Tel Aviv, July 2007
bitforms gallery, New York, October 18, 2007
Jewish Museum, New York, October 26, 2007