Keeping Vigil with no Loss to Poetry

Julie Mehretu, Epigraph, Damascus, 2016. Courtesy the artist, carlier | gebauer and Niels Borch Jensen.

The images and thoughts informing Mehretu’s recent work are from either far right anti-immigration rallies or detention centers for migrants at US borders. The issue of legal and illegal migration or the need to move in order to find a home or life elsewhere, is core to the work and the way Mehretu has been thinking through this time. Especially its complexities in relation to our global condition – with climate catastrophe getting worse and worse, a pandemic, and the ongoing struggle against the history of colonialism and neo-colonialism, among other crises.

Mehretu’s current exhibition at carlier gebauer gallery in Berlin is titled Metoikos (in between paintings), the Greek word meaning the strange in-between place or the strange in-between thing. It was used to refer to people from elsewhere who occupied an intermediate position between visiting foreigners and citizens in Greece. They were a recognized part of the community, but subject to restrictions on marriage, property ownership, voting, and more.

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