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Beyond Spoken Words

The ‘beyond’ is neither a new horizon, nor a leaving behind of the past….beginnings and endings may be the sustaining myths of the middle years; but in the fin de siècle, e find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion.’

Homi K Bhabha, Locations of culture

The title of this exhibition responds to the rapidly changing world in which we all live today.  People, cultures, identities and locations are represented through a fast moving visual language and oral discourse.  Our knowledge is often informed by a secondary source, a media definition that can be reinterpreted and redefined to suit our understanding.  Consequently as a society we often accept news media as a truth.  Dislocation and alienation are terms of reference that define peoples who have had to leave behind a familiar surrounding, a way of life, a mother tongue, a taste of foods a social way of life and communication.  These terms of reference are not exclusive to one culture but speak openly for many that have had to address a disenfranchised existence.

Displacement can include those whose lives have been affected by the settlement of new people; cultural differences can be defined by class and wealth that keep the poor poor, with the rich growing richer.  Familiar landscapes are dramatically changed to accommodate the needs of the wealthy; status symbols define their presence and inform the public of their place in society.  The familiar is no longer familiar and change is like an envelope waiting to be delivered.  Lives become transitory, human commodities born into a simple existence of survival.

Borders, barriers, boundaries, walls, gates and bars are erected to establish a distinction between social groups, define territory and emphasise social exclusion.  For some whose surroundings change so profoundly, they have no choice but to cling to an identity that is defined by their unity and acceptance of a way of life that is being influenced by an outside culture.

Beyond Spoken Words by anna sherbany is an installation of photographic images of people, video footage of locations with whispering voices, linguistic exchange and the mesmerising sound of the sea.  It is this combination of image and sound that challenges the viewer’s understanding of place and identity, change and defiance, displacement and location: recognising the presence of these factors in society and across cultures and continents.  anna sherbany’s work powerfully explores these themes examining her own identity as an Iraqi-Jewish-Middle Eastern woman, raising questions for the viewer to examine and (de)construct definitions of identity.

Shital Pattani
Gallery Director