NAEEM MOHAIEMEN: THERE IS NO LAST MAN

(Curator)

The artist's first museum solo show in the U.S., centering on Tripoli Cancelled (2017), a fictionalized film loosely inspired by the artist’s father, following the daily rituals of a man stranded in an abandoned airport. The film follows him through his daily routine of walking, smoking, writing letters to his wife, staging scenes with mannequins in flight attendant uniforms, and reading from the dark British children’s book Watership Down (1972). Mohaiemen shot the film in Ellinikon Airport in Athens, Greece, loosely inspired by his father’s experience of being stuck in this same airport for nine days in 1977 after losing his passport. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen in the 1960s, Ellinikon was abandoned in 2001 and was recently used to house refugees entering Greece, and then proposed as a site for luxury real estate development during European Union negotiations over Greek debt.

The exhibition title responds to Francis Fukuyama’s book The End of History and the Last Man (1992), which proposed that Western liberal democracy and capitalism would be the final shared fate of humanity. Mohaiemen’s work suggests that there will be no “last man” or “end of history” in an era marked by the growing prominence of non-Western histories that acknowledge multiple viewpoints and perspectives on the development of modernity.

© 2020 JOCELYN MILLER