Nabil Azab Just How We Found It
In tandem with his solo exhibition The Big Mess With Us Inside It at Pumice Raft, Montréal-based artist Nabil Azab’s billboard project presents large-scale photographic abstractions that move viewers into the realm of affect and perceptual gestalt. In this new body of work, Azab manipulates archival photographs to emulate the subjectivities of translation through generations—an experience akin to the slipperiness of memory.
To create these new images, Azab projected archival photographs referencing his family’s past in Egypt, Port Said, and the Suez Canal onto his studio wall, re-photographing portions of these enlarged images to create new visual interpretations. Utilizing long exposures, Azab moved through the projected image space on foot with camera in hand, creating abstract compositions of form and tonality that render an impression of a moment in his family history, rather than a frozen snapshot. Here the images not only become portals to different temporalities—they also act as an extension of the exhibition space itself. Viewable from the windows at Pumice Raft, the two billboards pull visitors out of the contemplative space of the gallery into the Runnymede and Ryding Avenue neighbourhood. Adjacent to Toronto’s major railway line, the location of the billboards highlights the political nature of urban infrastructure, much like the Suez Canal itself.
Presented in the traditionally commercial context of the billboard, these soft, intangible, evocative images disrupt the expectations of urban passersby, instead offering a unique, emotive, and contemplative experience.
Curated by Parker Kay
Project commissioned by Pumice Raft. Courtesy of the artist and Franz Kaka, Toronto. Presented by Pumice Raft in partnership with CONTACT. Supported by PATTISON Outdoor Advertising
Nabil Azab (b. 1994, Paris, France) is a multidisciplinary artist of North African descent. They live and work in kanien’kehá:ka territory (Montréal). Azab employs drawing, painting, writing and researching as fodder for abstract photographic works that resist the objectivity and disciplinarity of the medium in contemporary life. Recent solo exhibitions include Something good that never happened at Afternoon Projects, Vancouver (2022) and the welling up which would not pass at DRAC, Drummondville, Quebec (2022).