Chantal Zakari: Work in Progress

November 4 - December 6, 2020
Opening Reception: (following socially distanced guidelines) Friday, November 6, 2020, 5:00-8:00 pm
Kingston Conversation: November 18, 2020, 7:00-8:00 pm EST - Featuring Chantal Zakari with Margaret Hart. >> Register Here for Zoom.

  • Chantal Zakari

    About the Past (vocal performance by Ruth Harcovitz), still from a video installation, featuring Ruth Harcovitz singing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B (Don Raye & Hughie Prince, 1941); camera: Leyla Mandel; boom mic: Lana Taffel; zoom recorder: Zoe Doyle; editing: Leyla Mandel, 2020.

    About the Past (vocal performance by Ruth Harcovitz)
  • Chantal Zakari

    Work In Progress (site of the former nuclear reactor), drone videography by Christian Von Stackelberg, 2020.

    Work In Progress (site of the former nuclear reactor)
  • Chantal Zakari

    About the Past (Sofia Engelman at the Central Garage), still from a video installation, featuring Sofia Engelman of Papineau & Engelman dance duo; camera and editing: Leyla Mandel, 2020

    About the Past (Sofia Engelman at the Central Garage)
  • Chantal Zakari

    Building (detail of one of the eight prints from the grid), 2020.

    Building (detail of one of the eight prints from the grid)
  • Chantal Zakari

    About the Past (Em Papineau at the Commander's Mansion), Still from a video installation, featuring Em Papineau of Papineau & Engelman dance duo; camera and editing: Leyla Mandel; photo credit: Mike Mandel, 2020.

    About the Past (Em Papineau at the Commander's Mansion)

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Press Release

Artist Statement

Work in Progress is a visual exploration of the intertwined histories of the Watertown Federal Arsenal, of the buildings and especially of the people who worked there. It is a visual metaphor for the overlap of a past history infused with the idea of war and the present transformation of the campus into a large shopping mall and business center.

The Watertown Federal Arsenal was active from 1816 until 1995. It was the primary source for weapons manufactured for the Civil War, and by World War I it had tripled in size. In the early 20th century the workers at the Arsenal were largely immigrants: Armenians, Irish, Italians, Poles, Russians, Syrians, most living in the nearby communities of Watertown, Allston, Newton, Cambridge and Waltham. A nuclear reactor was constructed in 1959 and operated until 1970. Since the Arsenal's closing the buildings have become re-purposed as offices for non-profit organizations, corporations, a mall, a gym, restaurants and an art center. This work addresses the forgotten history of labor that was instrumental in the production of armaments for American wars.

The show at Kingston Gallery has several components:

Works on the walls consist of archival imagery of the industrial workshops and the laborers along with aerial drone photography of the construction and rebuilding of the space. The installation utilizes the entire wall space making a parallel to researching and organizing visual information on a computer desktop allowing layering of images the way history overlaps.

Two video projections are installed in the second room of the gallery. Here, the performance duo Sofia Engelman and Em Papineau recreates movements referencing the workers and officers that used to occupy the buildings decades ago. The second video features the operatic voice of Ruth Harcovitz singing a WWII song "Praise the Lord and Pass The Ammunition" in a ghostly apparition amongst the renovation efforts.

A third component of the show is an homage to Arsenal News, a bi-weekly publication that lasted 23 years serving its community. My 2020 edition of Arsenal News consists of a non-linear visual history along with recreated headlines, and is distributed at the gallery and concurrently in various locations at the Arsenal Yards and Mall.



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