Tariq Kiswanson’s Art Reflects His 2nd Generation Immigrant Experience – ARTnews.com

One of Tariq Kiswanson’s new sculptures, Nest (2022), an egg-shaped fiberglass resin figure, larger than a human, whose shape is reminiscent of eggs and cocoons and seeds; Gieswanson notes that the Greek roots of the word „diaspora” come from spreading seeds. A particularly polyglot—he speaks Swedish, Arabic, English, French, and Italian—the artist, as he puts it, likes „making things so dense or layered that they make things outside of your body and boundaries.”

Gieswansson was born in 1986 in Halmstad, Sweden to Palestinian parents. When his father arrived from Jerusalem in 1979, he was one of the few Arabs in the city, and the Swedish administration changed their original surname, Al Kiswani, to Chimeric Kiswanson. He grew up not in a posh part of town where wealthy Swedes have summer homes, but in housing projects with other second-generation immigrants from places including the former Yugoslavia, Vietnam and Iraq. Paris-based Kiswanson says it’s annoying that people assume he’s a refugee because of his Palestinian heritage, since he was deported before he was born. She said she „moves between these cultures, identities, languages, and the great anxieties I feel when I don’t fit into the black and white of society.”

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Kiswanson’s previous works have focused on her family, she said, „understanding who I am and where I come from.” „I didn’t really come from anywhere to understand.” An example, Grandfather’s cabinet (2014), is a skeletal reconstruction of his grandfather’s filing cabinet, which his family took with them when they fled Jerusalem. Gieswanson recreated the shape using strips of brass, between which he sandwiched strips of melted silver from family heirlooms (such as a spoon and necklace). „All my family history is embedded in the stitches,” she said.

Drag Kiswanson: fall2020.

Courtesy Carré d’Art – Museum of Contemporary Art

Later, she began to focus on the experience of fellow second-generation immigrants, as well as collaborating with adolescent youth whose parents were also immigrants. In the picture fall (2020), a boy named Mehdi, born in Belgium to Moroccan parents, plays with a pencil until it drops, then leans his chair back until it too falls to the floor. The entire scene is shot on a phantom camera, which can record thousands of frames per second, and is slowed down throughout to allow Mehdi to pause unsteadily; It cuts to Mehdi’s head just before it hits the ground and spins again, and even though he knew before filming that it was going to hurt, he had no time to panic. Ghiswanson called it „a state of floating detached and removed from one’s own heritage, culture, country, family.” That’s where he wants to work. That’s why he recently moved to abstraction, because it’s not specific to any culture or time period.

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It’s been a busy year for the artist. Solo exhibitions opened in April at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City and Bonniers Kunsthalle in Stockholm. Another will open at the Salzburger Kunstverein in Austria in July, and a group show at the Center Pompidou in Paris next fall will feature Gieswansson as a finalist in the Prix Marcel Duchamp. Even as he savors his success, he feels hard-won, after years of waiting for the art world to catch on to the ambiguous way he presents identity in his art.

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