Larissa Sansour

Where the open-hearth works transformed the brittle pig iron into malleable iron for durable commodities, Larissa Sansour draws us into a borderland between fragile, painful experiences and a dreamlike, visionary future. Her cinematic work of art, In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain, offers a suggestive prophecy on how people in a distant future could find roots that confirm their belonging and identity in this specific territory. From a rosy sky, alien crafts land in a barren desert mountain landscape. Suddenly, we find ourselves among people who seem to originate from different eras and cultures. The meeting place conveys the feeling of a temporary nomadic waypoint. Two girls, seeking comfort in each other, are dressed alike in decorative Middle Eastern dresses, jewellery and veils. An older man waits nearby, presumably from the same culture. But so do soldiers in uniforms with a Western cut. It is here that the narrator enters – a hooded woman who professes herself to be on an archaeological assignment that will influence future historical writings. The verbal dialogue she maintains is with her psychiatrist, but she interacts with many others. In carefully joined, fragmentary film clips, the woman brings us close to a resistance group in revolt against the occupation of their country, and into her own deeply personal story of a lost twin sister who died when she was only nine years old. The depiction is unobtrusive and powerfully touching. Each word in the muted conversation is weighed very carefully. Every movement is tender, even those that may mean life or death. Is it what it seems to be? This question becomes significant to the identification of the landscape which is – or can be perceived to be – a nation. Above all, this concerns the relationship between the sisters, which transcends death. Myths, fact, fiction, visions and dreams become strands in a tapestry that weaves together both poetry and science fiction. Civilizations come and go, as do nation-states that seek their borders in historical tracks. Yet what determines if one people have a claim on a country? Fallen societies leave fragments in the Earth, not least from the pottery and porcelain from which people once ate their meals. It is such future archaeological finds that the work’s narratives allow to be created and spread throughout the landscape. The story is about an oppressed group of people, and considering that the artist Larissa Sansour grew up in East Jerusalem, it is easy to think of the long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine. The missiles launched prove to be capsules that land, with the help of parachutes, safely on the ground – and from the containers flow the cleverly historized porcelain. The story also transports us to the human psyche – to precipitous questions about life and death, what makes life worth living and how we live on when those we love have died. Larissa Sansour created In the Future They Ate From the Finest Porcelain with her life partner Soren Lind, who was born in Denmark. In addition to the cinematic work, Sansour is also exhibiting five objects from the sculptural installation Archaeology in Absentia. In the absence of a true peace process between Israel and Palestine, archaeological finds have become ammunition in infected disputes about land rights. When these objects are buried, traces are created that can rewrite history. Larissa Sansour was born in 1973 in Jerusalem and now lives and works in London. She holds an MA in Fine Art from New York University and has also studied at art schools in Copenhagen and London. She works across borders with film, photography, installation and sculpture, and her art contributes to current political dialogue. Larissa Sansour has exhibited across the globe, including at the Tate Modern in London, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Jeu de Paume national gallery in Paris, the Louisiana in Copenhagen and art galleries in Hiroshima, Jerusalem, Cairo and Sydney.