Shadi Al-Atallah | Un/Sense | Christie's | London, UK

July 20 - July 29 2022
This summer, Christie’s is delighted to present Un/Sense, as part of Next at Christie’s. Now on view until 29 July, Un/Sense is being hosted at our St. James’s Gallery in London. The exhibition is put together by Pia Zeitzen and Sasha Shevchenko, two talented curators selected from our curator open call. Bringing together the works of 29 rising talents, the exhibition addresses the absurdity of contemporary reality by allowing the ‘Absurd’ to take over the exhibition's artistic and curatorial expression. Entry to Un/Sense is free and open to all. 
To celebrate this occasion, Christie’s Education is running a programme of three courses — Cutting Edge Contemporary ArtThe Art of Curation, and From Art School to Art World — offered to the public alongside the exhibition. Browse our programme below to find out more about our public opening on the 20 July and the Christie’s Education courses. 
In a world that stopped making sense, Un/Sense is an exhibition that embraces complexity and contradiction, avoiding linear, cohesive structures. Instead, it nurtures a constellation of artistic voices that speak to contemporary instabilities with hopes to find solace within and through the chaos. In doing so, this exhibition embraces that which is absurdist, placing such absurdity at its core. 

Absurdity, while stubbornly avoiding definition, serves as a tool to reinvent what it means to ‘make meaning’, together and in solidarity with each other. Paradoxically, in times of crisis, reverting to forms of ‘making sense’ that diverge from normative logic and seem irrational, becomes almost rational. Confronted with the unexpected unreliability of our physical senses as well as societal constructs, what once formed the privilege of security is now tipping over, growing increasingly absurd instead. This absurdity is witness to the canons, which, sensical no more, are exposed to be narrow, exclusive, and incomplete. Possessing a power of reinvention, absurdity is neither true or false, neither good nor bad. Just like reality itself, it simply is

Un/Sense aims to manifest such destabilisation and to internalise the chaos of external reality into its very structure and content. The exhibition is curated to mirror the state of confusion the world is submerged in, with artworks transcending their positions by sliding down the walls, contents escaping their frames, rooms losing their corners and movement hiding behind the illusion of fixture. By posing questions about the ways art should or should notbe exhibited, the exhibition’s body metaphorically reverts to the instability of contemporary “normality”. In a world that time and time again has stopped 'making sense', artworks and curation jointly celebrate the creative potential of absurdity as a tool to transgress and reimagine. 

Mimicking the reality of confusion associated with the post-pandemic era, the exhibition constructs its own microcosmos through diversity of artistic expression. With works drawing on sensory and visual illusions, art-historical canons and their inversion, senses of belonging and estrangement, the exhibition intertwines reality with representation and past with present. As a result, it positions itself within the gaps of ‘normality’ and aims to fill these with a multiplicity of creative voices. In this nonlinear space, there exists no single, streamlined reality, and yet, narratives are constructed in solidarity with one another. By embracing this absurdity and situating it at its core, the exhibition collectively makes sense of that which is otherwise nonsensical, thereby becoming un/sensical.
July 20, 2022