Noah Simblist

1. —I first met Harry Roseman on the phone in 1998. I was a graduate student at the University of Washington and he helped me organize Catherine’s lecture and panel discussion with John Yau. I think it wasn’t until Dallas in October 2005 that I met Harry in person when he came to Dallas with Catherine for a week. I think that’s right, at first I thought that I met Harry in Seattle back in 1998 but now I can’t remember if it was only by phone…

2. — A statement about my work: My work seeks to question the politics of identity and the way that it manifests itself within formal investigation. I see identity as a dialectical relationship between the personal and the cultural. In this sense, signs such as the Jewish star, the Jerusalem cross, the Palestinian flag and the swastika hold both private and public meaning. They are both abstract and iconographic, acting as intersections for vectors of historical narrative. The political territory that I am currently engaged with relates to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While this issue acts as a nexus for cultural tensions between east and west, the relationship between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and questions of exile, memory and borders – central to this issue are the failed utopian aims of both Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. I am interested in the parallel between the utopianism of these nationalisms and the utopian ambitions of modernist abstraction. Movements such as the Bauhaus and the Russian avant-garde aspired to link the philosophical and religious essentialism of formalism with social change and political progress. But most often this work is reduced to aesthetic experience and commerce. My work seeks to frame these histories and ask if there is any possibility left for political content in abstract form.

— May 2007

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