if you Like you can show my works in galleries

Video, inkjet print on architectural bond paper and copy paper, acrylic on canvas, archival material, ink on sketching paper, 2017-20

Dimensions variable. Video: 17:31 minutes. Paintings: 15.2 X 15 inches (38.6 X 38.1 cm), 15.2 X 15 inches (38.6 X 38.1 cm), 15.2 X 17.4 inches (38.6 X 44.2 cm), 15.2 X 15.5 inches (38.6 X 39.4 cm), 15.25 X 15.2 inches (38.7 X 38.6 cm), 15.3 X 16 inches (38.9 X 40.6 cm), 15.4 X 16 inches (39.1 X 40.6 cm), 15.5 X 17.4 inches (39.4 X 44.2 cm), 15.6 X 17.5 inches (39.6 X 44.5 cm), 15.6 X 15.75 inches (39.6 X 40 cm), 15.75 X 17.4 inches (40 X 44.2 cm), 16.1 X 15.5 inches (40.9 X 39.4 cm), 14.7 X 16.3 inches (37.7 X 41.4 cm), 14.75 X 16 inches (37.5 X 40.6 cm), 15.75 X 15.3 inches (40 X 38.8 cm), 15.75 X 16.75 inches (40 X 42.5 cm). Artist book: 28 X 36 inches (71.1 X 91.4 cm). EXPO Chicago 2004 catalog: 6 X 9 X 1.8 inches (15.2 X 22.9 X 4.6 inches). Bookmark: 5.7 X 2.6 inches (14.5 X 6.6 cm)


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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.


Commissioned for In Practice: Total Disbelief, SculptureCenter, NY 2020, curated and text above by Kyle Dancewicz. Video co-directed and written by filmmaker Jose Luis Benavides

Conversation with David De Hannay, July 23, 2020.

Using Format