In the first episode of a new series of A brush with..., Ali Cherri talks to Ben Luke about his influences, from art to literature, film and music, and the cultural experiences that have shaped his life and work.
Cherri works with film, sculpture, installation, drawing, painting and other media to explore geopolitical and cultural histories, the loaded sites of museums, and the meanings and practices of archaeology. He was born in 1976 in Beirut at the beginning of the Lebanese civil war and, as we hear, growing up in Lebanon in this period inevitably marked his life and ultimately the art he would make.
As well as talking about growing up in Beirut, he discusses his National Gallery exhibition, prompted by his residency at the gallery, his exploration of what he calls the “politics of visibility”, his use of taxidermied animals and his experiences at antiques auctions.
Among the huge range of cultural figures he discusses are David Hockney, Ilya Kabakov, Man Ray, Donna Haraway and Tsai Ming-liang. He also responds to the questions we ask all our guests, about the objects he has in his studio, his daily rituals, and the ultimate question: “what is art for?”
• Ali Cherri: If you prick us, do we not bleed?, National Gallery, London, until 12 June. Ali Cherri will feature in the main exhibition of the 59th Venice Biennale, The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani, 23 April-27 November.