Ali Cherri: Humble and quiet and soothing as mud | The Art Newspaper

Sep 01 2023

By Tim Schneider

Ten exhibitions to see in New York City this autumn

Ali Cherri’s first solo exhibition in the US represents a next step and a look back, both literally grounded in earth. A newly commissioned installation combines mud-bodied sculptures and kinetic lighting to reinterpret the Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh, the mythical king who defied the gods to pursue the secret of eternal life. The sculptures bear faces made of (allegedly) ancient masks and fragments of artefacts purchased by Cherri at auction, surfacing tensions between legend, history and commerce. One floor above is Of Men and Gods and Mud (2022), the three-channel film installation that propelled him to the 2022 Venice Biennale’s Silver Lion for a promising young participant in the central exhibition. Set at the Merowe Dam, a hydroelectric project whose construction displaced more than 50,000 residents of northern Sudan, the work follows a seasonal brickmaker who channels supernatural life into a large mud figure embodying his comrades’ strife.