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Took place: 3rd - 28th February, 2005     [ Photos ]

Opening night party with newly commissioned performance by Reza Aramesh commencing 9pm on the 3rd February. Music 11pm onwards,
DJ Eric Soul.

Press Release
'WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY AND HE IS US...' is a group exhibition, initiated and curated by Shezad Dawood in association with Redux.

Artists: Babak Ghazi, Mustafa Hulusi, Rasheed Araeen, Reza Aramesh, Runa Islam, Shezad Dawood and Andy Seize.

My friend Ahmed, up until September 11, always claimed to be from Afghanistan (rather than Pakistan), as this seemed to give a more heroic and romantic slant to his origin. Relating him, by proxy, to the grizzled warriors of the Mujahadeen, who alone had fought off the Soviet invaders. The real extending by proxy, into dialogues of identity and origin, and therefore proving itself merely the image of a thing to be plucked and used as accessory-sign. This extension and appropriation of a supposed 'truth', itself operating around a thin confluence of borders and signs, becomes the performative flipside to Taliban-chic. So why stop at September the 11th?

From ethno-religious group shows, to coalitions of the willing. Exclusion, rather than inclusion seems to be the new diversity, borne out by cultural institutions as much as by the World Bank. In fact it is corporations, in an odd twist of fate that seem the most inclusive. Not being answerable to anyone, they are happy to take your money no matter who you are.

After the gains of the early 90s, mediaevalism seems to be the new black. Despite the promise of hybrid spaces, and metissage as cultural practice, borne out of the legacy of cultural theory, it seemed suddenly that no one wished to see this trajectory through to its logical conclusion. As with protectionist markets, entrenched positions were good for business - and without guilt funding would possibly be a meritocratic free-for-all. A situation that would do nobody any good.

And yet this has left those artists on the threshold of these hybrid spaces, those artists who are able to reflect the fluid spaces that are slowly collapsing the old social order, out in the cold. In this way one might see a complicity between the centre

and its other, to squeeze out any attempts to bridge that gap and tear away the illusion and neurotic compulsion of alterity forever. Mediaeval Islam colludes with Fundamentalist America in a pact in which there is no Devil, as the evil is purely human and selfish: '"Come on," the captain said, "we'll take you out to play Cowboys & Indians"' [i].

I remember as a kid always having to be the 'Indian' in the schoolyard. Yet part of this identification was always built on an unspoken desire to be a cowboy. There would have been no issue, if my school-friends were not implicitly aware of my heart's desire. The desire imposed by any border. Especially where such a border conferred the status of the normative: day entry to England's Green & Pleasant Anglo-Saxon gene pool. Yet as Derrida would have it: "there is a problem as soon as the edge-line is threatened. And it is threatened from its first tracing. This tracing can only institute the line by dividing it intrinsically into two sides. There is a problem as soon as this intrinsic division divides the relation to itself of the border and therefore divides the being-one-self of anything." [ii]

So what of those artists who lay claim to both sides of the equation, and neither simultaneously? Perversely we might lay claim to the only genuine case for universalism, in that we cause problems for both Us & Them, by exploding any such narrow or fixed readings of culture. We, in a sense are the ghost in the machine, presenting the troubling range of our experience with all the objectivity of a Greek chorus. We don't want to be you, or your other - please leave your sociopathological neuroses at home.

i. Michael Herr, "Dispatches".

ii. Derrida, Jacques: "Aporias", Stanford University Press, Stanford 1993.

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We have met the enemy and he is us

The Arts Council of England  Leeds Metropolitan University

We have met the enemy and he is us