Lisson Gallery

Exhibition at Zacheta Museum in Warsaw opens with works by John Akomfrah and Allora & Calzadilla

18 July 2019

The Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw, Poland, has opened ‘Alienations or The Fire Next Time’, a group exhibition exploring the concept of alienation in contemporary societies as a common lived reality rather than an isolated individual experience. Arranged in two parts, the exhibition presents seven film works by world-renowned artists including John Akomfrah and Allora & Calzadilla, introducing the idea of alienation and highlighting its causes and effects on human living conditions and the wider environment.

Allora & Calzadilla’s The Great Silence (2016) is a three-channel film based around the world’s largest radio telescope, located at the Arecibo Observatory in Esperanza, in the artists’ home country of Puerto Rico. The Rio Abaro forest surrounding the observatory is home to the last remaining wild population of the critically endangered Amazona vittata parrot who, like humans, posses the rare capacity for vocal learning. Allora & Calzadilla worked with science-fiction author Ted Chiang on scripted subtitles for the film from the perspective of the parrots, who reflect on the imminent end of their species whilst humankind continues its quest to find other intelligent life.

The exhibition also includes Vertigo Sea (2015) by John Akomfrah, in which the sea is positioned as a no-man's land, operating outside the normal rules of society. Exploring topics such and the whaling industry and imigration, the work evokes a sense of dislocation through a narrative on life above and below the waves that shifts from archival to new footage, slipping seamlessly between past and present, real and imagined.

‘Alienations or The Fire Next Time’ continues until 29 September 2019. Find more information here.

Image: Installation view of Allora & Calzadilla, The Great Silence (2014), in collaboration with Ted Chiang, at ARoS Art Museum, Denmark. Courtesy ARos Art Museum. Photography Anders Sune Berg.
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