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Ellen Gallagher

(American, born 1965)

Abu Simbel

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Object Details

Artist

Ellen Gallagher

Date

2005-06

Medium

Photogravure, watercolor, color pencil, varnish, pomade, plasticine, blue fur, gold leaf, and crystals on wove paper Edition 21/25

Dimensions

Image: 22 3/4 × 34 1/4 inches (57.8 × 87 cm)
Sheet: 24 1/2 × 35 1/2 inches (62.2 × 90.2 cm)
Frame: 35 3/4 × 47 1/8 × 1 3/4 inches (90.8 × 119.7 × 4.4 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the generosity of the Donors to the Contemporary Art Fund and Truman W. Eustis III, Class of 1951

Object
Number

2007.057

A fantastic UFO shoots red liquid beams down to Abu Simbel, the Pharaoh Rameses II’s (1303–1213 (…)

A fantastic UFO shoots red liquid beams down to Abu Simbel, the Pharaoh Rameses II’s (1303–1213 BC) temple for the sun gods in ancient Nubia. Abu Simbel is embedded with references to science fiction, historical caricatures, questions of cultural ownership and medicine and the black body. The work collapses thousands of years, freely combining elements from the past and future.Almost as a stage set, Abu Simbel unfolds on a copy of a photogravure that hung in Freud’s study. Gallagher described the work as “a tricked-out, multidirectional flow from Freud to ancient Egypt to Sun Ra to George Clinton.” Nurses with red eyes stand near the temple’s entrance. Located at the feet of Rameses—animated with new facial features—the nurses occupy the place of the Pharaoh’s family members. Below them, individual eyes, mouths, and heads cascade into a pile before one of the damaged statues. Gallagher’s physical alterations or restorations to the Temple echo its dramatic dismantling and relocation, completed in 1968 and overseen by UNESCO, in order to make way for a new dam. (“This is no Less Curious: Journeys through the Collection” cocurated by Sonja Gandert, Alexandra Palmer, and Alana Ryder and presented at the Johnson Museum January 24 – April 12, 2015)

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