Annabel Daou: Fortune

April 22th, 2017

Leila Heller Gallery, New York


In this ongoing project by annabel daou, members of the public are solicited to partake in an intimate exchange in which they present their palms and receive their fortunes transcribed onto paper for a small fee. The reading/writing is entirely silent. It is structured around two questions: “where are you coming from?” and “where are you going to?”

Parallels between the fortune-teller and the artist are numerous. The appearance of the fortune-teller as a subject in art coincides with a shift toward modernity and the everyday. The fortune teller raises questions about belief, desire and trust as well as class and cross-cultural interaction. Fortune telling is illegal in many places including New York City. In the depths of Dante’s Inferno, the fortune-tellers walk with their heads on backwards, punished for presuming to see the future.

Fortune has been presented in numerous contexts since 2013, including at MoMA PS1, WhiteBox, the Global Art Forum in Dubai, and most recently at 53 Orchard Street, where Daou occupied a small storefront throughout the winter of 2016/2017, this iteration of Fortune was curated by Mitra Khorasheh as part of Hands Off Our Revolutions' performance series.

annabel daou was born in Lebanon and lived there until 1985 when she moved to New York to attend Barnard College. Daou’s works occur at the intersections of writing, speech, as well as non-verbal modes of communication. Her paper and tape–based constructions, sound pieces, and performances explore the language of intimacy and self-encounter. Using phrases that are alternately repetitious, possessive, and imperative, she negotiates the space between the matters we hold close and the hold these matters have on us. Daou physically intervenes and reconfigures the surfaces of her works by tearing them up and repairing them again. Words written on mending tape alternately hold together and pull apart the various surfaces which are made out of various kinds of papers with textures that give the impression of wood, glass shards, fabric, or precious metals. Daou’s handwriting functions as a link between the individual pieces. The sources of her writing are literary models as well as her own memories. She has had solo exhibitions at David Winton Bell Art Gallery at Brown University in Providence, Albertz Benda in New York, Galerie Tanja Wagner in Berlin, Conduit Gallery in Dallas, and Josee Bienvenu Gallery in New York, among others. Her works have included in group exhibitions at institutions such as the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, Columbus Museum, The Hafnarfjörður Centre of Culture and Fine Art, Drawing Room in London, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York, MoMA PS1 in New York, and Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.