K Files - Tarek Al-Ghoussein

16 September - 23 October 2014 Taymour Grahne Gallery

New York, New York – Taymour Grahne Gallery is pleased to present K Files, the first solo exhibition in New York by Palestinian-Kuwaiti artist Tarek Al-Ghoussein. On the occasion of the exhibition, the gallery celebrates the launch of the artist’s second monograph, Transfigurations, with essays by Reem Fadda, Kevin Mitchell, Venetia Porter, Madeline Yale Preston, Rana Sadik, and Wendy Watriss.


Al-Ghoussein was born in Kuwait to Palestinians parents in exile, and, like many from his generation, grew up unable to visit his parents’ native home. Dislocation and displacement have remained common themes throughout his artistic practice. Al-Ghoussein often presents his work in a serial manner, which results in complex narratives that explore the tension between longing for and belonging to a place.


Inspired by an invitation to represent Kuwait for its first national pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, K Files employs two distinct approaches to consider the artist’s relationship with Kuwait. The self-portrait photographs on display in the upper gallery depict Al-Ghoussein’s exploration of the physical, cultural, intellectual, and collective spaces through interactions with iconic locations that are the physical manifestation of efforts to form a modern nation-state. Places like the man-made island where the British first drilled for offshore oil, the Kuwait Stock Exchange, and the Kuwait National Assembly building are transformed through performative interactions that are carefully composed.  


The work on the lower level of the gallery results from Al-Ghoussein’s attempt to track his family history through documents that have entered the public realm. Al-Ghoussein’s father served as Kuwait’s Ambassador to the United States in the 1960s, and the artist found traces of this history online, when he came across photographs of his parents available for purchase through websites such as eBay and Amazon. One of these photographs purchased online features his father presenting Jacqueline Onasis with a check on behalf of Kuwait for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Al-Ghoussein juxtaposes the physical and digital proof of these images with related newspaper clippings from his family albums. The process of collection and the subsequent display in a gallery setting demonstrates how personal memories are subject to commodification in the age of the internet and raises questions related to the boundaries between private and public.


Tarek Al-Ghoussein has exhibited globally, notably as one of two representatives of Kuwait at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. His work can be seen in the public collections of the Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; the British Museum, London, UK; Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; the Royal Photography Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark; the Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.