Emii Alrai’s practice is strongly influenced by cultural identities revealed through artifacts (geographical identity) and post-colonial museum practices of collecting and displaying objects. Most interested in the ancient mythologies from the Middle East, Emii works on sculptural installations that resemble museological displays and visualize residues of cultural collision. As Archeologist, curator and author Laurent Olivier pointed out during a conversation with the artist, her work is about exploring memory while researching and working on materiality – an idea of material memory that explores our recurrent obsession with holding on to these memories.
In ‘The Courtship of Giants’ exhibition, the artist works on a set of different references and artifacts such as the capture and coveting of giant artifacts from Iraq, the Lamassu by the British Museum, ancient gravesite constructions by the Pre-Raphaelites, and the theatricality of medieval hunting arenas.
Present in this exhibition and throughout her work is Emii’s reflection on how western museums have collected, shown, and displayed objects from non-western cultures, and how these artifacts are framed in the architectural context and curation of these institutions. Playing with this idea like a diorama, she created a world of attraction and innocence. The Materiality of this scenery was achieved by exploring different textures as a way of finding archeological memories in a reminiscent object.
Emii Alrai is an artist based in Leeds, UK. She studied her BA in Fine Art and an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies at The University of Leeds. Upcoming and Recent group and solo exhibitions include: Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK (2022), Visual Arts Centre, Clarington, Canada (2021), Threshold, Leeds, UK (2021), Jerwood Arts, London, UK (2021), The Tetley, Leeds, UK (2020); VITRINE, London (2019), Fallow, Rectory Projects (2019), Two Queens, Leicester, UK (2019); GLOAM, Sheffield, UK (2018); (2018); Caustic Casual, Salford, UK (2017); Hutt Collective, Nottingham, UK (2017).
The Courtship of Giants is supported by Henry Moore Foundation and Arts Council England.