Exhibition: Quarries

Ellie Ga Quarries June 4 - July 30 2022

Bureau is pleased to announce Ellie Ga’s fourth solo exhibition at the gallery, marking the U.S. debut of her latest video work, Quarries, 2022, which premiered this spring at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. In Quarries, Ga’s steady, captivating voice entices viewers to traverse a path composed of seemingly disparate shards of conversations, events and fleeting images which, over the duration of the forty minute video, accumulate into a mosaic that links the human hand and its tools with the capacity for resistance.

Quarries follows the mysteries surrounding prehistoric stone tools from Kenya alongside the neglected labor of stonemasons who paved the streets of Lisbon. The humble gesture of these artisans, stooped over the pavement, morphs into a confrontation with the hubristic act of monument building. For the artist’s brother, the struggle to regain the use of his hands after a serious injury transforms into a narrative about agency in the face of being forgotten, marginalized and deemed of no importance. An out-of-print photography book on Portuguese stone pavements leads to a series of improbable connections. A tour of a neurobiology lab leads to an examination of a Cold War re-education camp where prisoners were forced to dig up stones to create replicas of antiquity while covertly drawing on stone shards to mark and then bury a trace of their stories. In Quarries, Ga extracts stories of resistance from unlikely places and on overlooked surfaces.

Ga describes her composition process for Quarries and the way interstitial fragments synthesize into the form of the work:

Quarries was composed by sifting through conversations, written correspondences, literary sources and hearsay. These various ways of transmitting knowledge were transformed into a text meant to be spoken—but not in the flowing style of everyday speech. It’s a staccato process of chipping away at sentences. I arranged Quarries as a series of parenthesis gathering around stories that can’t really be told: the life events leading up to my brother’s paralysis; the photographer who won’t reveal why her book is a (still) painful chapter in her life; a sliver of knowledge of our prehistoric ancestors extracted from the faintest mark of a pre-human hand; the untold stories and conditions of the laborers that paved Lisbon’s streets. How do conceptions of linear progress petrify certain values in history-telling, scientific enquiries, evolutionary theories—even in our assessment of our relationships to others?  In Quarries, knowledge is forgotten and rediscovered—or on the verge of disappearance. We are presented with the frightening implications of progress-driven time: the fly treading a ball in a neuroscience lab; the prison camps designed to eradicate communism; the use-value of agile human hands. Yet the cracks of resistance to this progression  are abundant.

Quarries was commissioned for the exhibition Fata Morgana at Jeu de Paume, Paris with support from Les Amis du Jeu de Paume; the Swedish Arts Council and the Luso-American Foundation + AIR 351, Portugal.

Ellie Ga (b. 1976, New York) lives and works in Stockholm. Ga is a recipient of a 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship in Film and Video. Her work Gyres was commissioned for the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Recent museum solo exhibitions include Gyres, And Other Driftings, The Foreman Art Gallery of Bishop’s University, Québec, Canada; The Fortunetellers, Frac Franche Comté, Besonçon, France; Square, Octagon, Circle, Le Grand Café Centre d’Art Contemporain, Saint-Nazaire, France; Pharos, M-Museum, Leuven, Belgium; It Was Restored Again, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Square, Octagon, Circle, Grand Arts, Kansas City, Missouri. Solo exhibitions at Bureau include Strophe, A Turning, 2017; Four Thousand Blocks, 2014; and This Was Later On, 2011. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Jeu de Paume, Paris; Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York; The Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark; and the New Museum, New York. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Fondation Galeries Lafayette, Paris, France; FRAC Franche-Comté, Besonçon, France; The Fluentum Collection, Berlin, Germany; Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-On-Hudson, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Photography by Dario Lasagni.