Exhibition /
“Fabrication of Blindness,” by Julia Mandle

Date: 19–27 September, 2009
Location: 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn, NY
Gallery hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 12–6 pm

Opening reception: Saturday, 19 September, 5–8 pm
Discussion: Monday, 21 September, 7–9 pm
Embroidery Circles: Saturday and Sunday, 26–27 September, 1–5 pm

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), in partnership with Cabinet, is pleased to present Julia Mandle’s “Fabrication of Blindness” as part of FIAF’s “Crossing the Line” festival. A memorial to, and protest of, America’s use of torture in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and beyond, “Fabrication of Blindness” takes the form of a large dark cloud made out of the black military sandbags that are used to hood prisoners. For the work, Mandle has collected letters, poems, and stories by the detainees, words from which have been embroidered onto the hoods during a series of embroidery circles in New York City and Washington, D.C. Inspired by the images of French war photographer Jean-Marc Bouju, “Fabrication of Blindness” was originally created during Mandle’s residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center.

“I have come to believe that it might only be when we feel the painful reality of what our country has caused – and stay with it, not turn a blind eye—that we will be inspired to truly act and change course. I believe that art can play an instigating role,” said artist Julia Mandle.

“Julia Mandle’s poignant and beautiful installation directly challenges us to evaluate our own relationship to global or political events,” said Lili Chopra, Artistic Director of FIAF. “She raises the critical question; What is democracy if we don’t participate in it?”

On Monday, 21 September, from 7 to 9 pm, Mandle will engage in a conversation about the work with scholar Marc Falkoff, the editor of a collection of writings by Guantanamo Bay detainees. They will discuss the project’s place in the intersection of art and activism, exploring the practice of art as a politicizing agent.

On Saturday and Sunday, 26–27 September, from 1 to 5 pm, the artist will conduct participatory Embroidery Circles, collaborating with the staff of Cabinet magazine to conduct “craft-based interventions.” During these sewing circles, participants will have access to detainee poetry, letters, and stories, the content of which they will then stitch onto the hoods and add to the installation, giving voice to previously hidden detainee narratives. Embroidery Circles are open to the public. People without craft experience are highly encouraged to participate.

About the Artist
Julia Mandle believes that performance art can be a critical tool to reconnect us in an impossibly overwhelming world. Recent works include “Paths to the Park,” presented by Manchester Craftmen’s Guild Youth & Arts and the New Hazlett Theater in Pittsburgh, PA; and “Hopscotch for New Orleans,” an outdoor processional performance through the streets of New Orleans.

About Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line is FIAF’s fall festival, conceived as a platform to present vibrant new works by a diverse range of transdisciplinary artists working in France and New York City. Initiated, conceived, and produced by FIAF in partnership with leading New York cultural institutions, the third annual edition of this inter-disciplinary contemporary arts festival further develops its focus on artists who are transforming cultural practices on both sides of the Atlantic. Over three intensive weeks this fall—whether by performing shopping, watching sounds, composing films, or reading movements—audiences will join in exploring and tasting a unique collection of outstanding new works and experiences, and discovering new revelations from each of these extraordinary artists.

The third edition of Crossing the Line is co-curated by Lili Chopra (Artistic Director at FIAF) and Simon Dove (Director, School of Dance at Arizona State University), and runs from September 12 through October 3, 2009. A number of the programs and events will utilize FIAF’s own spaces, including Florence Gould Hall, the FIAF Gallery, Tinker Auditorium, and Le Skyroom. Established partners in New York City will also host events, including Cabinet, CPR–Center for Performance Research, Dance Theater Workshop (DTW), Danspace Project, Luxe Gallery, Macy’s, the New Museum, and Performance Space 122 (P.S. 122). Additional partners for Crossing the Line 2009 include Anthology Film Archives, the Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC), Omnivore New York, and the Whitney Museum.

“Fabrication of Blindness,” produced in conjunction with J Mandle Performance, is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. This project was created in residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center and made possible by a gift from James Duffy in memory of Martha Duffy and with support from NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. “Fabrication of Blindness” is created from the generous production support of King’s Fountain and the HenPhil Pillsbury Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation, and produced with generous support from the Gilbert MacKay Foundation and the James E. Robison Foundation. Special programs for this exhibition have been generously supported by Marie Nugent-Head. Special thanks to Transformer, Not an Alternative, and Code Pink.