The Washington Post

Art in focus: ‘Shadow Sites’ examines the disappearance of the body from depictions of the Middle Eastern landscape

View Photo Gallery: Contemporary artist Jananne Al-Ani explores the Middle Eastern landscape at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Jananne Al-Ani became fascinated by the way contemporary news footage depersonalized war, making aerial images of missile attacks abstract and aestheticized. The London-based, Iraqi-Irish artist could see everything that was happening on the ground, except for the people who lived and worked — and died — there.

The theme of the body’s absence in Middle Eastern landscape dominates “Shadow Sites: Recent Work by Jananne Al-Ani.” Yet the exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery makes its points subtly. Al-Ani is a conceptualist, not a politician.

Read my review of the show, and check out a selection of images in the above gallery.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Michael O’Sullivan has worked since 1993 at The Washington Post, where he covers art, film and other forms of popular — and unpopular — culture.


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