As part of BAC’s Agility Projects, Jamil Hellu presents new work from distinct projects that explore how we determine our relationships to cultural histories and personal experiences. How do we reconcile who we really are with how we have been perceived? How do we articulate our own identity within generations of histories?
In Present Tense, Jamil Hellu is looking for ways to voice his despair over violence in the Middle East. He started to produce works claiming his Arab roots. Hellu’s father’s family is from Syria. This body of work was first conceived after Hellu saw news footage of blindfolded Syrian men being thrown from high buildings by ISIS because of their perceived sexual orientation. The project explores the artist’s identity in relation to his Syrian heritage and Arab ethnicity. It is a conceptual investigation of the frictions that emerge at the intersection of Middle-Eastern lineage and queerness. Through performance, the work juxtaposes moving and still images creating a contemporary discourse about the implications of cultural background.
Through painting, photography, installation and video, Jamil Hellu has created a visually-arresting body of work that serves as both intimate portraits of his individual experiences and his relationships to the cultural identities from which he emerged.
Exhibition overview from museum website