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Dor Guez: The Sick Man of Europe: The Architect
Friday, October 16, 2015 - January 3, 2016

Dor Guez
Dor Guez, The Architect, Scanogram 4 (2015) from The Sick Man of Europe. Archival inkjet print, 150 x 200 cm (59 x 79 in).

In The Sick Man of Europe, Jerusalem-born artist Dor Guez focuses on the plight of marginalized communities in the Middle East. The five-part work by Guez, of mixed Christian-Palestinian and Jewish-Tunisian heritage, reflects on the military history of the Middle East through the creative practices of individual soldiers from the region. "The Sick Man of Europe" was first used in the mid-19th century to describe the Ottoman Empire, but has since been applied at one time or another to nearly every country in Europe and the Middle East. For his installation at MOCAD, Guez appropriates the proverbial "Sick Man" by reconstructing him as an individual and an allegory. Caught in the crosshairs of history, the "Sick Man" blurs the categories of perpetrator and victim, soldier and citizen. "The DEPE Space project space gives artists who work with social issues a platform for larger meaningful conversations to happen with our communities. We are looking forward to having Dor in our museum for this purpose as he is one of the most thoughtful and though provoking artists working today," says Elysia Borowy-Reeder, MOCAD Executive Director.

Dor Guez
Dor Guez, The Architect, Scanogram 3 (2015) from The Sick Man of Europe. Archival inkjet print, 45 x 65 cm (18 x 26 in).

The installation on view at MOCAD, The Architect, tells the story of Kemal P., an architecture student recruited into the Turkish army on the eve of World War II. In a video installation - the centerpiece of the exhibition - a much older Kemal looks back on the young architect's life as the Ottoman Empire transforms into the Republic of Turkey. After the end of World War II and the death of President Atatürk, Kemal P. never works as an architect. The exhibition also shows a number of 'scanograms' as well as an architect's flat file cabinet of photographs of soldiers collected by Kemal P. over the years.

Guez's construction of the "Sick Man" narrative reflects tensions between eastern religious and western secular cultures in such liminal geographies as Israel ("villa in the jungle") and Turkey ("the gate to Asia"). Each work on display shows how written history often clashes with narratives of different individuals. The project metaphorically flips the reading of the history of the Middle East from an oversimplified meta-narrative to a nuanced multitudinous chorus of personal stories in a region in which military service is compulsory for all able-bodied men. "The Sick Man of Europe is Dor's most ambitious project to date," says curator Chelsea Haines. "We are thrilled to have the U.S. premiere in Detroit."

Dor Guez
Dor Guez, The Architect (2015) from The Sick Man of Europe. Installation view at Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, March 5 - May 6, 2015.

Dor Guez is an artist and a scholar who lives in Jaffa. In 2009, he established the Christian Palestinian Archive, which is devoted to this minority. Guez's work has been the subject of over 25 solo exhibitions worldwide, with his most recent at the ICA in London. Past solo exhibitions have been held at The Rose Art Museum in Boston, Artpace, San Antonio, The Mosaic Rooms, Centre for Contemporary Arab Culture, London, The KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Guez's work has been included in numerous international exhibitions and biennials including the 12th Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul; 17th and 18th International Contemporary Art Festival, Videobrasil, São Paulo; the 3rd Moscow International Biennale, Moscow; Biennale Benin, Cotonou; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; and MAXXI Museum, Rome. Guez also serves as Head of the Photography Department at the Bezalel School of Art and Design, Jerusalem. His research project on archives, Pre-Israeli Orientalism, is due to appear this coming year.

Dor Guez
Dor Guez, The Architect (2015) from The Sick Man of Europe. Video still.

Dor Guez
Dor Guez, The Architect (2015) from The Sick Man of Europe. Video still.

The Sick Man of Europe exhibition has been organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and is curated by Chelsea Haines. This exhibition has been developed in conversation with dialogue partners MOCAD Senior Curator at Large and Deputy Director of The Jewish Museum in New York Jens Hoffmann and the MOCAD Education Department.

Image Credits: Courtesy of the artist, Carlier Gebauer Gallery, Berlin, Dvir Gallery, Tel Aviv and MOCAD

The video work The Sick Man of Europe: The Architect was supported by the Nathan Cummings Foundation and CCA Tel Aviv.

Dor Guez's Sick Man of Europe is made possible by Artis.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization supported through invaluable contributions from individuals and members. The Richard and Jane Manoogian Foundation provides leading support for the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit since 2006. General operating support for MOCAD is generously provided by Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, General Motors Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Masco Corporation Foundation and The Taubman Foundation. Additional funding for programming and educational initiatives is provided by Edith S. Briskin/Shirley K. Schlafer Foundation. Valuable in-kind support is provided by Dykema. Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit is also supported, in part, by The Andy Warhol Foundation For the Arts, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Leveraging Investments in Creativity in partnership with the Ford Foundation, and ArtPlace, a collaboration of top national foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts and various federal agencies to accelerate creative placemaking across the U.S.