Rasha Salti: speculative archeology of video art in the Arab world

Rasha Salti

Ridha Ben Halima

Belgacem Hammami

Mohamed Abdessalem

Fethi Ben Slama

Ghassen Jemaia

Sami Tlili

In the context of the current exhibition, video vintage, Beirut art center is inviting Rasha Salti, a curator, film programmer and writer living in Beirut, to propose a video screening program. The event begins with a presentation around the Tunisian federation of amateur cineastes followed by video screenings.

In the Arab world, video, as artistic practice, became effectively accessible to artists when the means of digital production and dissemination became relatively affordable, lighter in weight and remarkably user-friend. Is it possible however to theorize that the language and poetics of the practice were simply ‘imported’ with the technology? Might there be a prehistory, if not a history, to video art in the Arab world? If video art works are conversant with other artistic genres (painting, photography, performance, cinema…) as well as with their makers’ lived reality, would attributing a collective unconscious or speculating a prehistory be pointless folly? Video art and experimental cinema have passionately vexed, intersecting histories. In the case of the Arab world, the intersections –as well as vexations– are far more intense, frequent and ambiguous. While experimental cinema is generally granted a very minor place in the history of cinema, “amateur” cinema, a genre rife with experimentation, is barely acknowledged. In paying tribute to the work of the Tunisian federation of amateur cineastes, and their festival of amateur cinema held in kélibia, Tunisia, rasha salti will speculate on the relationship between amateur cinema and a potential history of video artistic practice.


The whistle (le sifflet) by Ridha Ben Halima. 2006, 10′. (Subtitles in French) the tunnel (le tunnel) by Ridha Ben HalimaMohamed AbdessalemBelgacem Hammami, 1983, 13’ the wall (le mur) by Fethi Ben SlamaGhassen Jemaia, 2004, 11’7 without lead (sans plomb) by Sami Tlili, 2006, 7’37