Replica for Illustration is a series of thirteen photographs of unnamed displays taken from the catalogue Art of the Past Twenty-Two Centuries. In her work, Iman Issa makes text prominent, using it as a collaborator with different sculptural structures. Here it is the opposite: the artist is interested in the image as a form of display from a specific history, whose context and narrative remain unnamed. Yet these installations have stories to tell. They build relationships between their origin and their final destination in the vitrines. They also live, age, and suffer. Many of the artifacts have lost part of their agency when they were taken from their original habitat, creating a gap between the object and the museum as its new environment. The artist asks: “Could it be that objects in museums and those in the outside world live on parallel lines that never intersect, regardless of how similar they appear to be?” The curators follow: “How to shift the display mindset, from showing off to each other what was extracted to a more interdependent culture of exchange, coexistence, and meaning?” Despite its long history, there is still so much to learn about what a medium of exhibition is and can do.
Iman Issa (1979) was born in Cairo and lives in Berlin.