Ab-Anbar presents Landmarks, a solo exhibition by London-based Iraqi-born artist Jananne Al-Ani. The exhibition spans more than two decades of photographic and moving image work, focusing on Al-Ani’s longstanding interest in the power of the gaze in response to lens-based technologies, the significance of eye-witness testimony, and the disappearance of the body in highly charged and contested landscapes.
Marking the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War, an event that casts a long shadow over Al-Ani’s practice, Landmarks highlights preoccupations that have persisted over time and continue to reverberate throughout this distinctive body of work. From The Visit (2004), a multi-channel installation featuring intimate recollections of loss and trauma set against the desert landscape of the Middle East, to Black Powder Peninsula (2016), an aerial film focusing on the English landscape, including sites rich with the remains of British military, naval and industrial history. The film’s vertical perspective has the effect of flattening and abstracting the landscape and rendering it unfamiliar while revealing the ruins of a faded empire hidden in plain sight.
The exhibition includes the new film Sounds of War II, combining subtly animated archival photographs with contemporary aerial photographs of the ghostly footprints of US airfields across rural East Anglia which were decommissioned after the end of the Second World War. The work draws attention to the complex geopolitical relations that link the rise of American power and influence in the second half of the 20th century with the pivotal role played by Britain in the formation of the modern Middle East in the aftermath of the First World War.