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Omar Mismar, Confiscated Imaginaries
“It's not visible yet, Abou Farid,” Omar responds in his latest film to the archaeology inspector and conservator of Ma’arrat Al-Numan Museum in Idlib, Syria. Making visible what might no longer be here manifests through various mechanisms in Confiscated Imaginaries, a solo exhibition by Omar Mismar, where the works become documents of their own condition.
Consisting of a film, a viewing apparatus, and a series of mosaics, Confiscated Imaginaries presents Mismar’s recent body of work, which traces layers of displacement from bodies, to property records and cultural heritage; along with the counter acts of preservation which attempt to resist the systemic effacements resulting from the Syrian war. A Dubious Prototype (2020), a convoluted slide carousel of sorts, holds blue translucent documents only legible when the apparatus slides them before a light bulb. Blueprints drawn by hand here, in a refugee camp in the Bekaa valley, imagine homes there in Syria. In his Studies in Mosaics Series (2019-2020), Mismar expands his thinking on conflict representation in relation to preservation. Tattoos transposed in stone become indexical markings and emblems of imagined futures. A whatsapp message enters a vanished mosaic while in an adjacent piece the protectors of endangered mosaics are inlaid in one. The flickering images in the film, Abou Farid’s War (2021), are adjusted, returned to, challenged and built upon through conversation. In the face of irreversible destruction, the exhibition proposes that the transmuted forms of homes and heritages in the hands and imaginaries of their caretakers are a witness to their survival.