CAS Talks supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation is a year-long programme of talks by contemporary artists that take place in the Contemporary Art Society’s Member Museums across the UK. The talks happen as a work by the artist enters the museum collection and are designed to introduce artists to new audiences.
Uriel Orlow was in conversation with Chris Fite-Wassilak at Towner Eastbourne on 29 November 2014. Towner recently acquired The Short and the Long of It (2012-12) through the Contemporary Art Society’s Fine Art Acquisitions Scheme.
Uriel Orlow (b. 1973, Zurich, Switzerland) is based in London. Recent exhibitions include Manifesta 9 (2012), the 54th Venice Bienniale (2011) and 8th Mercosul Biennial in Brazil (2011). His work has been presented in solo exhibitions at institutions including Spike Island, Bristol (2013), Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2012) and ACAF Alexandria, Egypt (2011).
Orlow is known for his modular multi-media installations that take specific locations and events as starting points and combine archival research with evocative photography, moving image and sound.
‘The Short and the Long of It’ is a multi-part installation based on an event that is mostly absent from official histories: the failed passage of 14 international cargo ships through the Suez Canal on 5 June 1967. Caught in the outbreak of the Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria, it took eight years before the ships were able to leave the canal when it re-opened in 1975. While stranded, the Cold War political allegiances of the multi-national crews were dissolved and gave way to a form of communal survival and the establishment of a new social system. Although the focus and starting point of this work is a real event, Orlow is more interested in providing interpreted insights rather than revealing the whole picture through a purely archival presentation. Using a range of media, including film, slide projections, and photography, he encourages the viewer to engage with the event through the layers and components of his work.
Chris Fite-Wassilak is a writer and a curator, who contributes regularly to Art Monthly, Art Papers, Art Review and frieze. Forthcoming publications include Curating Research, Open Editions, eds. Paul O’Neill and Mick Wilson) and Public Art (Now), (Art/Books and Situations, ed. Claire Doherty).