BREAK, TAKE, ERASE, TALLY by JUMANA MANNA at MoMA PS1 [from 20220922 to 20230417]

[Photos: Steven Paneccasio / Image courtesy MoMA PS1]

Jumana Manna’s first major museum exhibition in the US charts the artist’s multidisciplinary practice, which explores the paradoxical effects of preservation practices in agriculture, science, and the law. Marking the New York premiere of Manna’s newest film, Foragers(2022), the exhibition brings together nearly 20 works including two recent films and a series of new and existing sculptures.

Focusing on the land in the face of increasing forms of alienation from it, Manna’s films use a range of narrative methods to examine how land-based practices like farming and foraging are embroiled in and struggle against neoliberal and colonial policies and in turn, climate change. Drawing from specific examples, such as the first withdrawal from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in 2015 in response to the Syrian war—the subject of her film Wild Relatives—Manna underscores the scientific limitations in recovering the loss of biological life, in all of its forms. Her work visualizes the slow violence of industrial agriculture while asking poignant questions about what kind of future is possible in a precarious present.

In her new film Foragers, Manna moves between documentary and fiction to chronicle confrontations between Palestinian pickers of the wild growing herbs ‘akkoub and za’atarand the Israeli Nature Protection Authority, which has deemed the plants endangered. The foragers’ refusal and the punishments they face, from large fines and potential jail time, at times takes on an absurdist and comical tone that raises key questions around the politics of extinction—namely who determines what gets to live on and how. In both of Manna’s films, plants and seeds are primary subjects, and the relationship between human labor and the land is essential to their narrative structures.

The exhibition also features a new large-scale installation of sculptures that take inspiration from the fragmented remains of khabyas, traditional and now obsolete structures for grain storage in the Levant. The sculptures are placed in dialogue with the artist’s signature industrial plinth assemblages, which borrow materials found in the urban environment—from construction sites to drainage systems. Across sculpture and film, Manna’s works explore the land and its rhythms as the basis for ways of life that can also serve to resist, evade, and transform hegemonic power structures.

Jumana Manna (b. 1987) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Recent solo exhibitionsinclude Jumana Manna / MATRIX 278, Berkeley Museum of Art, San Francisco; Sketch andBread, Balade Charlottenburg, Villa Oppenheim, Berlin; Thirty Plumbers in the Belly, MHKA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp (all 2021); Wild Relatives, Tensta Kunsthall,Sweden (2020); Jumana Manna, Tabakalera, San Sebastian, Spain (2019); A Small BigThing, Henie Onstad Museum, Høvikodden (2019), Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2018); AMagical Substance Flows Into Me, Mercer Union, Toronto (2017); Wild Relatives, Jeu dePaume's Satellite 10 program at MABA and CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux,France (2017); A Magical Substance Flows Into Me, Malmö Kunsthall, Sweden (2016) andat Chisenhale Gallery, London (2015); and Menace of Origins, SculptureCenter, New York(2014). She has participated in numerous significant group exhibitions and film festivals,including Toronto Biennial of Art (2022 and 2019); 11th Taipei Biennial (2018); NordicPavilion, 57th Venice Biennale (2017); Liverpool Biennial (2016); Marrakech Biennale 6(2016); Vision du Reel, Lyon (2022), Dokufest Kosovo (2018 and 2022), Open City FilmFestival, London (2022), 54th and 56th Vienna International Film Festivals (2016 and2018); IFFR (2013 and 2017), IDFA (2021 and 2022); 66th and 68th Berlinale (2016 and2018); and CPH:DOX (2018). Manna's work is held in public and private collectionsinternationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; MCA Chicago; CentrePompidou, Paris; Carre d’art, Nîmes, France; National Museum of Norway, Oslo; andSharjah Art Foundation, UAE.

Jumana Manna: Break, Take, Erase, Tally is organized by Ruba Katrib, MoMA PS1 Curatorand Director of Curatorial Affairs.

Significant support for Jumana Manna: Break, Take, Erase, Tally is provided by TheInternational Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

Generous support is provided by The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art and Lise Stolt-Nielsen.

Special thanks to Hollybush Gardens, London.

The presentation of Jumana Manna's Middle Ghost (Cache Series) in the 46th Ave PublicPlaza is made possible by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

[Text: MoMA PS1]

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