Annabel Daou: Language as Lure

I’d like to begin this discussion by questioning the deviousness and seduction of language as used in art. Words are a lure and we are drawn to the writing on the wall, whether in a gallery or museum, a bathroom stall, or on a poster-lined street. Language captures the viewer and draws him or her closer in a different way than the image does, and I’m interested in opening up a discussion around that phenomenon.

In the same way that a title of a work can open up or even shift the way we see the work, language within the work can manipulate the way the viewer responds to and ultimately receives it. How might language be said to operate in ways that aren’t restricted to the contextualizing and annotative possibilities that language seems inherently to bring with it? Much discussion has taken place around the manipulative nature of the image; in what ways does the use of language become implicated in similarly manipulative strategies?

Annabel Daou (b. 1967, Beirut, Lebanon) was born and raised in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. She attended Barnard College of Columbia University, New York (1989). Daou held a residency at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Program, New York (2002-2007), and was a Brown Foundation Fellow in Residence at the Dora Maar House, Ménerbes, France (2008). Daou won the Biennial Award at the 2010 Cairo Biennale. She was in residence at CentralTrak, Dallas (2011) and was a visiting professor at the Meadows Art School, Southern Methodist University, Dallas (2011). Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island (2009); Conduit Gallery, Dallas (2010, 2014); Josée Bienvenu Gallery, New York (2011, 2012); Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin (2012, 2014); and the Global Art Forum, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2014). Select group exhibitions took place at Osart Gallery, Milan (2011); the Drawing Room, London (2013); and The Arts and Humanities Institute Gallery, Boise, Idaho (2014). Daou performed her work Fortune at MoMA PS1, New York (2013): more information about this work may be found at She is a co-founder of S2A, a subterranean platform for art projects in New York City, and is a founder of dbfoundation in New York, a small collaborative effort to organize alternative exhibitions and projects. Daou has participated in a number of projects organized by dBfoundation, including Home Base IV, New York (2009); CAFÉ, the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC (2009); and We Are Not an Arab Artist, New York Chronicles, Virginia Commonwealth University, Doha, Qatar (2010). Daou lives and works in New York City.