Catherine Yass: Wall (Alison Jacques Gallery)

When I think of Catherine Yass I mainly think of that upside-down descent from the Canary Wharf clouds to the construction site ground, a piece I found slowly thrilling (from cloud-cuckooland to a false wonderland to mud and sweat construction world). I saw that again in the Turner show a year or two ago, and again in the fantastic municipal museum in Bilbao, but this room in Alison Jacques still feels like its home to me, in town, in this commercial setting rather than in the remove of the museum.

So it’s nice to see her new work here. As I struggle past the curtain into the darkened room, it seems broadly similar. Another silent film: this time the picture slides gradually along a wall made of great slabs of grey concrete. There’s a bit of ground and a small sliver of blue sky visible. First impression is of a building site, but the film’s going on for ages and the site would have to be huge. A few bits of graffiti in an unfamiliar script, and the idea’s slowly dawning on me that the wall itself is significant, some division in some sort of warzone (later perusal of the promo blurb for the show informs me that it’s the wall which divides Israeli and Palestinian controlled territory).

I’m on record as being a lover of concrete, which and for me this film is about the impulse to sit back and enjoy the texture of the pictures, and its conflict with the urge to think about the wall itself, the many things it means, and its intervention in the glimpsed world around it.

I saw this a few minutes before the Bernard Cohen show I wrote about yesterday. A difference between how I felt about the politics I inferred into both is that my memory of the World Trade Center attacks remains drenched in images, while I don’t really have much of an idea what life looks like in an Israel-Palestine, or anywhere, divided by a massive concrete wall.

Or, to put it another way, and re: MS’s thoughts a bit back) could I stand the horror of “Guernica”‘s figure falling from the window applied to the WTC, when I’ve seen television footage of people jumping from the Towers? I suppose the answer’s no, and that that’s also a kind of answer to the question I asked myself about the Cohens: images of planes and mangled grids are not enough of a re-presentation of the images I have in my head already to feel worthwhile.