For the fifth year in a row, Beirut art center (BAC) is organizing Exposure, its only annual exhibition, dedicated to emerging artists in and from Lebanon.
With the aim of encouraging every eligible artist to apply, exposure is conceived as an open and flexible exhibition that is only defined by the characteristics of each project, as well as the diversity of the media and themes in the show. Like every year, BAC invites a new jury to make the selection. Gregory Buchakjian (art historian and artist), Fares Chalabi (philosopher), Tarek Abou El Fetouh (curator), and Rania Stefan (filmmaker/artist) formed this year’s jury; as it is customary the board of BAC had one voice. For the sake of presenting an exhibition that is rich in content, fourteen artists were selected from a pool of a hundred applicants, making exposure 2013 the largest edition to date.
Exposure 2013 presents the occasion to reflect on several ideas and themes. The following description is by no means exhaustive, but is meant to give an idea of some of the concerns and practices of each artist. Although working with different media, Camila Salame, Christine Kettaneh, Helene Kazan, Inaya Hodeib, and Maha Kays express particular impressions of memory and home. The inescapable longing for an impossible home is the impetus behind the poetic imagery in Salame’s sculptures. Kettaneh’s interest lies in language, but also in the access to the home, that is in the key, and especially in what has been cut to make it. Kazan’s multimedia installation sets the ordinary image of the domestic space against a complex conceptual framework of pre-emption, a strategy learned in times of war. Hodeib’s work also has references in the Lebanese civil war. She seeks to take the portrait form to new terrains by drawing on her light-hearted memories from childhood, and setting them against a backdrop of ‘pop culture’ products, signifiers from the war period. Also reminiscent of war, a sound unexpectedly emerges allowing a story to be told in maha kays’ video installation.
A personal story is the starting point in the works of Yasmine Eid Sabbagh and Rozenn Quéré, Lara Tabet, Pedro Barakat, and Yasmina Haddad. Eid-Sabbagh and Quéré deal with exile, memory and fiction, exploring different possibilities offered by reading images and biographical narration. Tabet also works with family photographs; only it is a therapeutic gesture of understanding and coping with loss. To investigate the past and present of a homeland he never saw as a child, Barakat begins his journey by looking at his father’s objects and diaries. Starting at what used to be her father’s gallery and furniture factory in Beirut, Haddad revisits art nouveau using a cross-thematic approach.
The body is a broad theme that connects the works of Shirin Abu Shaqra, Randa Mirza, and Wael Kodeih. Abu Shaqra meditates on the pathological body as a laborious rite of initiation. The body is questioned in mirza’s photography installation, as she addresses gender performance and sexuality. Kodeih’s intrigue in the phenomenon of a censored and defaced female body led him to research the topics of activism, internet security, and surveillance.
Images and events from the contemporary history of our region inform the works of Maxim Hourani and Monira Al Qadiri. Hourani comments on the forms and causes of dissent, and actively involves the viewer in the creation of spaces of protest. From a different perspective, at a time when apocalyptic theories are gaining popular momentum in the region, Monira al Qadiri recreates the latent nostalgic likeness of doomsday by juxtaposing paradisiacal poetry with amateur VHS footage of the burning oil fields in Kuwait at the end of the first gulf war in 1991.
Lastly, like previous editions, exposure 2013 is not a curated exhibition, because of a consensus not to exclude a promising artist on the basis of a theme or an artistic approach. Yet this year BAC put emphasis on discussing the projects with each artist, aiming to accompany them in the process of making their works for the exhibition.
A wide range of media and forms characterize this edition, from photography and video, installations and sculptures, to texts and a painting. And while it is completely arbitrary, it is striking that most of the exhibiting artists live abroad.
An exhibition catalogue featuring the works of all participants will be produced and launched on the opening night. In addition to the possibility of keeping a record of this edition, the catalogue is also a platform for the artists to present ideas and materials around the works on display, as well as insights into their artistic practice as a whole.