Since 2010, the artist Iman Issa has been working on a series of proposals for alternatives to public monuments she has known since childhood. Each piece, which Issa describes as a display, pairs a collection of objects with a vinyl wall text. All of the installations forge a relationship between those forms and phrases, but none of them spell out exactly what their affiliation may be. The texts allude to monuments that have for one reason or another failed, but the objects remain something of a mystery, drawing on memory and experience to counter the populism and political expediency of the commemorative statues they seek to replace. Issa, who is thirty-two, has been composing such precise and elusive works for a decade. Arranged in series, they create artful chains of association among objects, images, videos, texts, and sounds. There is a certain austerity to her style — a pared-down, oldschool elegance — which sets her apart from the exuberance of youth. Her installations are orderly, her materials relatively plain. Yet this tendency to streamline only adds to the fullness of Issa’s forms — the intense color of a photographic still life, the warm grain of a wooden sculpture, the soft glow of spherical lights. With an extreme economy of visual and spatial phrasing, Issa produces a wealth of possible meanings that always seem just out of reach, on the verge of articulation.
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