Goodman Gallery is pleased to present Dor Guez’ Lilies of the Field, exhibited for the first time in the United States. The photographic series is based on a pressed-flowers album created by the American Colony in Jerusalem, 1900-1914 (American Colony Archive, Jerusalem.)
Guez was born in Jerusalem to a Palestinian family from Lydda on his mother’s side and a family of Jewish immigrants from North Africa on his father’s. Guez’s photography, video installations, essays, and lecture performances explore the relationship between art, narrative, trauma, memory, and displacement.
Lilies of the Field is a series of luminous prints of pressed floral arrangements drawn from a flower album that the artist discovered at the American Colony archive in Jerusalem. Established in 1881, the American Colony was a group of US citizens of Swedish origin, who set up a photography department to record and document the cultures of Western Asia. Composed of dried petals and plants preserved between layers of silk papers for over a century, the flower album represents objects that were offered as souvenirs to European and American tourists visiting the holy land in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
This idyllic book of nature reflects the manner in which nature was organised for Western eyes — mapping Jerusalem, not as it existed but rather as a mythical place for Christians, Jews and Muslims, informed by romantic and orientalist views of the old city which often coincided with biblical sites and narratives. The title of the series, Lilies of the Field, draws attention to the replacement of botanical names with biblical references within the album, such as with the anemone plants noted as lilies of the field, pointing to the well-known verse contained in the book of Matthew, “consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin.”
Through further research, Guez discovered inaccuracies in the taxonomy and classification of plants in the flower album, which often did not correspond to the local landscape. Guez photographed the flowers in the album as well as the traces of residual pigment on the protective sheets and reconstructed the images resulting in radiant prints simulating large scale cyanotype. By deconstructing and reconstructing the album Guez exposes sutures and gaps between what is presented as official, scientific and authentic historical accounts against that which is fabricated and imagined. Lilies of the Field emphasises the passage of time as well as how the history of place is interwoven and contained within histories of objects.
Lilies of the Field is on view from the 17th until 29th Aug 2021. Guez’ first solo exhibition in South Africa, Letters from the Greater Maghreb, will be on view at Goodman Gallery, Cape Town in September 2021.
Dor Guez is an artist and a scholar. He was born in Jerusalem to a Palestinian family from Lydda on his mother’s side and a family of Jewish immigrants from North Africa on his father’s. Guez’s photography, video installations, essays, and lecture-performances explore the relationship between art, narrative, trauma, memory, and displacement. Interrogating personal experiences and official accounts of the past, Guez raises questions about contemporary art’s role in narrating unwritten histories and re-contextualizing visual and written documents. In the past 20 years, his studies and artistic work focus on archival materials and photographic practices of the Middle East and North Africa, as well as mapping traces of violence in the landscape.
Guez received his Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University in 2014 and earned his professorship from Bezalel Academy of the Arts and Design in 2018. He is the founder of the CPA (Christian-Palestinian Archive), and the Co-director of Seaport: Mediterranean Curatorial Residency.
To date, eight catalogues have been published internationally about Guez’s practice. Publishers include Distanz, New England Press, and A.M Qattan Foundation. Guez’s work has been displayed in over 40 solo exhibitions worldwide; MAN Museum, Nuoro (2018); DEPO, Istanbul (2017); the Museum for Islamic Art, Jerusalem (2017); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit (2016); the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2015); the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2015); the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Massachusetts (2013); Artpace, San Antonio (2013); the Mosaic Rooms, Centre for Contemporary Arab Culture & Art, London (2013); the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2010); and Petach Tikva Museum of Art, (2009). He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including shows at the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art (2016); the North Coast Art Triennial, Denmark (2016); Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina (2015); the 17th, 18th, and 19th International Contemporary Art Festival Videobrasil, São Paulo (2011, 2013, 2015); the 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2014); Cleveland Institute of Art (2014); Triennale Museum, Milan (2014); Centre of Contemporary Art, Torun (2014); Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2014); Maxxi Museum, Rome (2013); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2012); the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011); and the Museum of Modern Art, Ljubljana (2010).
Guez shares his time between Jaffa and New York City.