Jumana Manna’s practice in sculpture and film focuses on the power dynamics surrounding the processes through which history and places are constructed and consumed. She reanimates these dynamics to form installations that evoke landscapes, sites of labour and bodies in states of uncanny mutation. Ways of knowing and knowledge classifications have been a recurring theme in her recent works. At times this is explored in the acts of collecting, preserving or propagating material and living archives. In others, these themes are embodied in a more associative manner, drawing from the worlds of archaeology, construction, and musculature.
Manna’s exhibition at M HKA titled Thirty Plumbers in the Belly, is comprised of a new body of sculptures that move between the worlds of sewage, digestion and building sites. Central are two ceramic series: limb-pipes and rotten bread. The limb-pipes draw their primary reference from drainage tubing in use within urban and agricultural infrastructures since ancient times until today. Normally hidden behind walls, under pavements, and made to remove unwanted sights and smells from bodies, gardens and cities, they arrive at the site of the exhibition as metamorphosed conduits. The ceramic bread series exhibited in plastic bags and on metal fences, mimics the act of leaving old bread outdoors; a tradition of gift giving to an unknown receiver. These small-scaled sculptures consider the transformation of bread from an object of desire with nutritional value, to an unwanted anxiety; the sin of uneaten food – of wasted life.
Together with collaged scaffolding gauzes, rudimentary wooden planks and makeshift plinths, Thirty Plumbers in the Belly considers improvisational infrastructures in places where infrastructures are built to fail. The gathering of materials and anthropomorphic objects bears the processes of ruination and renewed symoblisation as both an aftermath and as a potentiality.
Jumana Manna was raised in Jerusalem and presently lives and works in Berlin. Her solo exhibitions include: Jumana Manna, Tabakalera, San Sebastian, Spain (2019); The Setting of Noon, Home Works Forum 8: Ashkal Alwan, Beirut (2019); Wild Relatives, Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2018); A Small Big Thing, Henie Onstad Museum, Høvikodden, Oslo (2018); A Magical Substance Flows into Me, Mercer Union, Toronto (2017), Malmö Kunsthall, Malmo (2016), and Chisenhale Gallery, London (2015); Wild Relatives, Jeu de Paume's Satellite 10 programme at MABA, Paris, and CAPC Bordeaux (2017); Menace of Origins, Sculpture Center, New York (2014) amongst others.
Jumana Manna’s exhibition has been produced through a collaboration between M HKA and FLACC – Workplace for Visual Arts, Genk, where the artist undertook a research and production residency during 2020 and 2021.
Exhibition co-curated by Nav Haq, Associate Director, M HKA, and Luuk Nouwen, Artistic Director, FLACC.