Chantal Zakari at Kingston Gallery

A Work in Progress

By: - Nov 01, 2020

Kingston Gallery
450 Harrison Avenue
Boston, Ma 02118
617 423 4113
November 4 to December 6
Opening November 6, 5pm to 8pm

For the past two years, Chantal Zakari has been exploring the connected histories of the Watertown Federal Arsenal, and of the buildings and the people who worked within them. At the confluence of war, labor, and immigrant narratives, A Work In Progress is a multimedia visual metaphor combining the historical past of weapons manufacture with the present-day Arsenal as a changed destination for retail shopping and housing. The title A Work in Progress refers to the continuous transformation of this real estate.

Using archival imagery along with her own photography, Zakari creates a visual diagram that outlines the Watertown Federal Arsenal from its start in the 19th century as the primary manufacturer of Civil War weapons. Through World War I, the Arsenal operated largely by way of the labor of European and Middle Eastern immigrants. The images, layered in frames, plexiglass, fabric, and aluminum, construct new intersections of meanings out of two hundred years of history. 

About the Past, a video installation in the Center Gallery, incorporates performance to interact with this living history. The dance duo Sofia Engelman and Em Papineau's movements recreate those of the workers and officers that used to occupy the buildings decades ago. In conjunction with this video is the operatic voice of Ruth Harcovitz, singing WWII songs Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition and the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from Company D, in a ghostly apparition amongst the renovation of buildings.

An artist and a graphic designer, Zakari also has created an homage to Arsenal News, a bi-weekly publication that served the Watertown Arsenal workers community for twenty-three years. Her 12-page interpretation of this newspaper features a non-linear history complete with recreated headlines that detail the worker’s strike of 1911 and a peace walk from 1961. It will be distributed for free at Kingston Gallery as well at various locations at the Watertown Arsenal Yards and throughout Watertown.

 The artist will be in the gallery every Friday 12-1 pm and Sundays 4-5 pm

Image  About the Past, 2020. 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: Zoë Doyle; Editing: Leyla Mandel.