Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Tension and Loss: On the Eve of Two New York Openings, Artist Shimon Attie Talks about the Gay Content in His Work - or the Lack Thereof

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Tension and Loss: On the Eve of Two New York Openings, Artist Shimon Attie Talks about the Gay Content in His Work - or the Lack Thereof

Article excerpt

Shimon Attie's photographs and public installations engage a surprisingly poignant form of neighborhood watch. In the early 1990s he mounted several major European-based multimedia pieces. In those pieces he projected pre-World War II images of Jewish life onto buildings in Berlin to tease out the complex histories inhabiting the aging edifices, and he pointed out similarly discomfiting pasts in the canals of Copenhagen and on the cobblestone paths of Krakow, Poland. "When you go into neighborhoods," says the 41-year-old artist, "you encounter houses and buildings that have the potential to serve as witnesses to personal and collective histories."

This month the artist unveils two separate projects in New York that reveal histories as powerful as those he brought to Europe. The first project, "Between Dreams and History," examines contemporary notions of community by projecting high-tech laser images on the streets and building facades at the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington streets on Manhattan's Lower East Side. (The piece, presented by Creative Time, runs for four weeks starting October 22.)

Although the artist doesn't specifically address his roots in this public work -- he grew up in Los Angeles -- he does note that the Lower East Side happens to be where his Syrian Jewish grandparents began their immigrant life in America. "Part of the project," he says, "is telling a personal story and a larger story at the same time."

The second show, "Photographs and Public Projects," includes a series of color photographs called "Untitled Memory (Projection of. …

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