Proxies, with a Life of Their Own
Begun in 2015, the series Heritage Studies derives its name from a field of academic and applied inquiry that relates to the understanding and use of history. Rather than proposing a stable reading of history, Heritage Studies instead examine dynamic sets of relationships—between cultures, sites, and artifacts—to articulate their relevance today. A historic artifact that Issa feels has a particular resonance and communicative ability in the present provides the basis for each work in the series. The accompanying caption describes the material, dates, and dimensions of the original artifact, as well as the museum collection that holds it. The dual structure of the work—which proposes an interplay between object and text—resists categorical stability in favor of an open interpretive framework. Thus Issa’s Heritage Studies are neither formal abstractions, nor “pared-down citations of reality,“ but attempts to communicate the act of perceiving the original objects and the relevance that they might hold for the present. “What do these new elements share with their sources if it is not the material, color, appearance, or shape?,“ Issa asks, “...they share a speech act. They are addressing or saying something similar to each other, and it is perhaps through doing that that they become the same.“
Alongside Heritage Studies, the exhibition includes a work titled Self-Portrait (Self as Doria Shafik), 2020. This work is part of the series Proxies, with a Life of Their Own, which Issa started in 2019. In this series, as in the Heritage Studies, the interplay between text and object play the same role. Here the text collaborates with the forms presented as portraits/self-portraits, giving them context and reasoning to their form, while turning on our imagination to the infinite possibilities of reality.
The Revolutionary is an audio piece written by the artist and narrated by text-to-speech software which creates an image of a potentially revolutionary character.