Invisible Cages is Amer Al Akel’s first solo show in Germany and features works produced between 2016 and 2021. Moving from the general to the specific, Al Akel deals with collective narratives through the personal in his sculptural works, where the apparent innocence and playfulness of materials and references at closer inspection reveal a rigged power play posing as a fair game.
The titular work of the exhibition, Invisible Cages (2021), is built of layers of reinforcement bars, which form a tall, square mesh structure with a narrow opening on one side. The bars are typically used in construction to support and increase strength of a concrete structure by relieving tension, yet here they are shown completely baren, presented in a structure that is simultaneously both transparent and opaque, a shelter and a cage. It is a structure that surrounds you, which offers a solid frame and foundation, yet is also always restraining in its nature.
Identity is one such structure, as is clear in Al Akel’s work, which subtlety deals with both the experiences and assumptions that follow him as an artist who’s from Syria. Like pawns in a game of chess, there are invisible rules that define your next possible move. In order to break free, the structures holding you back must first be made visible. Only then can you begin to wash or melt them away.
Amer Al Akel (b. 1987) is from Damascus, Syria, and lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He has studied at Damascus University and the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris and is graduating from the Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin in 2021.