“if you Like you can show my works in galleries”

Mixed-media installation, 2017 - 2020


In 2017, Qais Assali received three DHL packages from an administrator of the commercial art fair Art Chicago (now EXPO Chicago). The parcels contained photographs, drawings, paintings, a video on VHS tape, and handwritten letters, and were bundled as an unsolicited submission to the 2004 edition of the fair by an artist who described himself as Iranian, but living in Afghanistan. He included a photocopy of his passport. This artist’s deaccessioned materials ostensibly “found” their way to Assali, who is from Palestine, through a presumed regional sympathy for the plight of an Iranian artist. Contending with this assumption, Assali’s artwork reproductions, amended catalogs, lectures, and video cast him in a one-sided relationship of magnetism and repulsion with a total stranger, playing out a complex, perverse, and somewhat enticing form of misrecognition. 

A new video included in if you Like you can show my works in galleries concludes (almost) Assali’s yearslong engagement with this artist’s work, position, and the uncomfortably erotic mode of solicitation he used to orient himself toward an American art context. Conflicted about institutional art’s tendency toward reductive (or misleading) biographical sketches, but also self-conscious of his own artistic trajectory and strategies for navigating the values and decorum of American arts organizations, Assali’s work finds a stark but intimate difference between personal feelings of affinity for another artist and reductive (or misleading) framing imposed from outside.


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Commissioned for In Practice: Total Disbelief, SculptureCenter, New York, 2020, curated by Kyle Dancewicz.

Video co-directed and written by Jose Luis Benavides.

Installation view, In Practice: Total Disbelief, SculptureCenter, New York, 2020. Photo: Kyle Knodell
Photo: Kyle Knodell
Photo: Kyle Knodell
Photo: Kyle Knodell
Photo: Kyle Knodell

Installation view, In Practice: Total Disbelief, SculptureCenter, New York, 2020. Photo: Kyle Knodell Photo: Kyle Knodell Photo: Kyle Knodell Photo: Kyle Knodell Photo: Kyle Knodell


Installation view, 2020 Core Exhibition, Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, USA

Installation view, 2020 Core Exhibition, Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, USA
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