The culmination of a major project by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, this exhibition presents a body of work that looks at the history of online spam and scamming through film, sculpture, photography, and installation. Hadjithomas and Joreige have collected and archived a certain kind of spam e-mail—unsolicited messages from strangers—since 1999. These are schemes rooted in historical confidence tricks such as The Spanish Prisoner, which dates back to the sixteenth century. Aimed at swindling the recipient into transferring money to alleviate various invented personal hardships, collectively these e-mail scams delineate a map of recent geopolitical conflict, social unrest, and economic upheaval. Throughout this body of work, Hadjithomas and Joreige probe into the structures of belief and storytelling: they unfold a complex set of relationships marked by intimacy, trust, greed, and desire, all in relation to the internet and technology. The exhibition charts a kind of narrative itinerary ranging from various works that present intimate correspondence between scammers and victims to so-called “trophy” photographs extracted by vigilante scam-baiters and several video works that feature real or fictional protagonists of scams, including the major new installation The Rumor of the World (2014).
Hadjithomas and Joreige (both b. 1969, Beirut, Lebanon) live and work in Beirut and Paris. They have collaborated as filmmakers and artists since 1997. Their feature film Je Veux Voir (I Want to See) won Best Film of 2008 by the French Critics Guild. Their photographs and installations have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions at Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Victoria & Albert Museum, London; SF MoMA, California; and New Museum, New York.
Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige: I Must First Apologize… is organized in collaboration with Villa Arson, Nice, France; and HOME, Manchester, UK; and is curated by Eric Mangion for Nice, Omar Kholeif and Sarah Perks for Manchester, and Henriette Huldisch, Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA.
The exhibition is accompanied by The Rumors of the World: Rethinking Trust in the Age of the Internet, a new publication edited by Omar Kholeif and published by Sternberg Press, in association with Villa Arson, Nice, France; HOME, Manchester UK; and MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA, USA. The publication features contributions from the artists and Nicolas Auray, Finn Brunton, Henriette Huldisch, Omar Kholeif, Norman M. Klein, Franck Leibovici, Éric Mangion, Laura U. Marks, Sarah Perks, Jacques Rancière, Uzma Z. Rizvi, and Rasha Salti. To learn more, click here.
Support for this exhibition has been generously provided by the Massachusett Institute of Technology, the MIT School of Architecture + Planning, John Makhoul, and Cultural Service of the French Consulate in Boston, with additional support from the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, Terry & Rick Stone, the MIT List Visual Arts Center Advisory Committee, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and many generous individual donors. Special thanks to CRG Gallery, New York.