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Through sustained reflection on aesthetics and politics, Sharif Waked (*1964, Nazareth; lives and works in Nazareth and Santa Barbara, California) has consistently pierced the absurdities of reality with playful and estranged encounters between various temporalities, cultural-historical products, and political events. On the occasion of his solo exhibition at CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo the artist adopted the word “Balagan,” as its title. This word, which means chaos, disarray, and confusion. Originally comes from the Persian word – balachan [بالاخان‎] – and it traveled across borders to other languages such as Russian, Yiddish, Lithuanian and Hebrew. Following the artist’s unique modus operandi, the exhibition will feature existing and recent pieces, linking different bodies of Waked’s work over time. In the floor installation Crop Marks (2016), Waked’s self-portrait in an orange suit, is subjected to the print-house’s ‘guillotine’, cut at his neck along the crop marks of printing and design conventions: fashion and design encounter the world of beheadings. If the video MoM – the Museum of Mosul (2017­) takes the footage of ISIS’s destructive actions and reproduces it as a promotional film for a now-rebranded museum, in Bath Time (2012), a donkey takes a good shower after a long day performing as a zebra at the Gaza Zoo.

In Contribute a Better Translation No. 1 (2011), an archive of slogans of the Palestinian struggle undergo mechanized translation, and at the same time, the military surveillance of the Israeli checkpoint converges with the haute couture of the catwalk in Chic Point (2003). Beace Brocess No. 5 (2012) refracts a clip from the Camp David II 2000 peace talks into the era of silent film, whereas the Oslo Agreements of the 1990s meet the tiled mosaics of the eighth century Umayyad Caliphate [الخلافة الأموية] in the series of works “Jericho First” (2002-ongoing). In another series “Tughra” (2008-ongoing), Waked inserts Israeli soldiers’ most common directives in Hebrew-inflected Arabic into the sixteenth century calligraphic monogram (tughra [طغراء]) of Suleiman the Magnificent. The iconic work To Be Continued (2009) transforms the suicide bomber into the tenth century storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights, Scheherazade [شهرزاد], who kept death at bay by feeding Shahryār’s narrative curiosity. Last but not least, in the video series “Just AMoment” (2011-ongoing), various interventions meet, interrupt, and disrupt iconic archival events.

“Balagan” is also the title of a work on display in the exhibition. It is part of the series “Arabesque” (2016-ongoing) and in it – along with the series “dot.txt” (2016-ongoing) – Waked disassembles the building blocks of images to reconstruct what appear as geometric abstract surfaces. In these series, Waked questions the division between the visual and the verbal, perception and deception, the visual traditions of the past and the digital manipulations of the present, to deliver in a rather formalistic fashion the questioning, breaking, and remaking of meaning. Following these premises, “Balagan” offers a bird’s eye view of Waked’s art, surveying his work as a comprehensive whole.

“Sharif Waked: Balagan” is curated by Nicola Trezzi.

The exhibition is accompanied by printed matter in three languages and by exhibition tours in Hebrew on May 30 and July 4, Arabic, on June 25, and English, on May 16 and July 4.

“Sharif Waked: Balagan” is supported by Mifal HaPais Council for the Culture and Arts; hospitality provided by Outset Contemporary Art Fund.



“Sharif Waked: Balagan,” 2020

View of the exhibition at CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo 

Photo: Eyal Agivayev


Beace Brocess No. 5, 2012

Video, 01:28 min (loop), 16:9 (widescreen), color, sound, in artist frame, 37.5 × 47.5 cm

Courtesy of the artist

Photo: Eyal Agivayev


Crop Marks, 2016

Floor installation, glass, wood, offset printed poster and wheels, 2 boxes, 20 × 74.5 × 34.5 / 20 × 74.5 × 17.5 cm

Courtesy of the artist

Photo: Eyal Agivayev

Sharif Waked: Balagan

July 3, 2020

February 17, 2020

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