- Open Sesame
May 13 – July 30, 2016
Basma Alsharif / Fernanda D’Agostino / Cara Despain / Alex Felton / Frank Heath / Nancy Holt / Maria Lassnig / D’Ette Nogle / Adrian Paci / Emily Roysdon / Erin Shirreff / Manuel Solano / Cauleen Smith / Erika Vogt / Nil Yalter
The lumber room presents Open Sesame, curated by Kristan Kennedy, Visual Art Curator, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. This group exhibition includes video work by 16 international artists.
“This exhibition began as a conversation about how to remain open… open to the pain of the world, to content, to feeling, to disruption. It found its form in a film and video show installed at the lumber room throughout its liminal spaces of domesticity and display.
We are screening the work in the evening of summer's heat, spare one marathon matinee on it's closing day. Evening is also a kind of in-between space, a time when we let the mind go wandering. Our hope is that in this moment the haunting images of Open Sesame that come from all over the world may find their way in.
“Open Sesame” is a common phrase, which came into popularity in the 18th century. At that time Antoine Galland added the folktale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves to his translation of One Thousand and One Nights. Suddenly this epic Arabic tome of tales from India, Persia, Mesopotamia and Egypt (recorded by countless authors, scholars and translators many centuries before) became a Western window into the culture of the Middle East.
Still used today across many cultures, "Open Sesame" or "Iftah ya Simsim" implores the air around us to deliver an answer, to reveal what is obscured, to open the mouth of a mountain real or imagined. There are many theories as to why the humble word "Sesame" would conjure such magic. The seed itself is one of the tiniest in the world and yet it is a crop that thrives (or rather survives!) in the harshest conditions. It yields a delicious and healing oil, its flower is stubborn but opens with a POP! at just the moment of ripeness and the word itself sounds like a song as it leaves your lips. It is all at once a riddle and an answer.
"Simsim, Sumsum, Shinsum, Sez a me, Shimsha, Sisame, Sesama, Sesamo, Syssemon, Sesame." a word pulled through Indo, Aramaic, Assyrian, Greek, Hebrew and European languages with layered meanings but a unified message. Open mouth. Open mountain. Open gate. Open mind.”
– Kristan Kennedy