The sea returns, often in gothic guise, remembered and forgotten at the same time, always linked to death, but in a strangely disembodied way.
Alan Sekula (2002)
As famously explored by Sekula, the sea occupies multiple evolving guises; a source of commerce and a channel for colonization; a threat to life and a source of hope for a better life; a visually fetishized entity and a space of remoteness and invisibility. An overwhelmingly common theme in our open call, this first forum explores the developing nature of our relationships with our seas. In the era of enormous refugee crises, globalized labor, increasingly hostile borders, and global warming, how do we conceive of our relationships with the waters that simultaneously connect and divide us?
Part 1: Open Call (44m)
Khaled Jarrar – Sea Level
Rita Mahfouz – On Familiar Waters
Omar Elhamy – Paria
Driss Aroussi – Sisyphe
Part 2: Media Library (34m)
Shirin Sabahi – We Fell into the Water Staying Dry
Mirelle Astore – Tampa
Basma AlSharif – Deep Sleep
Basma AlSharif – The Story of Milk and Honey
Immaterial Collection II: Forum brings together video works by the acclaimed artists in Beirut Art Center’s Media Library with new works selected from our open call to artists from the MENA region, creating forums for conversation between two unique collections of artworks. Over 100 established and early career artists submitted work, inspiring connections with works in our Media Library. Selected videos from each will be screened in a series of four distinct forums to stimulate conversation and debate over drinks on the terrace afterwards.
This second installment of Immaterial Collection is curated by BAC’s visiting researcher Joy Stacey.
Biographies and Synopsys – Part 1: Open Call
Sea Level (2012) 0:04:17
Khaled Jarrar (Born in the occupied city of Jenin in 1976, based in Ramallah.) creates work that explores the impact of modern- day power struggles on ordinary citizens, while seeking to maximize the social potential of artistic interventions. His work has been shown across the world in venues such as the New Museum (NYC), Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), USF Contemporary Art Museum (Tampa), Sharjah Biennale and the 7th Berlin Biennale.
Jarrar is a recipient of the 2016 Anni and Heinrich Sussmann Award, which recognizes international artists who are committed to the ideals of democracy and antifascism. In 2017, Jarrar will be featured in the Trussardi Foundation’s “The Restless Earth,” a collective exhibition at the Triennale di Milano that coincides with the Venice Biennale.On Familiar Waters (2018) 0:07:42
On Familiar Waters
Originally extracted from film scenes revolving around a ship or the sea, the sentences—now an assembled voice-over—portray a city, drowned. Buildings, cars, motorcycles, people, dirt, cigarette butts, concrete, all overlap on one surface; that of water … that of the screen. The video is part of a larger set of works (comprising writing and photography) that explores and constructs spaces that are neither strictly flat nor deep, an intermediate dimension where the distinction between background and foreground disappears.
Rita Mahfouz was born in 1985. She received an MA in Visual Arts from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts (Alba), University of Balamand, in 2018; a BA in Music Composition from the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music in 2016; and a Maîtrise in Film and Video Studies in 2008. She is the video maker of On Familiar Waters, 2018, and Graphic Composition on White Background, 2015; and the composer of Je chante pour passer le temps (2016), Ce soir je dîne à la maison (2014), and RAVENSCRYTOO (2013). She participated in “les 13e rencontres internationales de composition musicale de Cergy-Pontoise,” France, April 2014.
Paria (2015) 0:19:36
When a familiar man is found by the shore, his presence evokes a multitude of reactions. Lost on land, a woman takes him in for an evening with her family.
Omar Elhamy is a director and editor who is interested in experimental methodologies and collaborative practices. Elhamy was born in Alexandria, Egypt where he started working in film in all its varied departments. He now lives between Montreal and Cairo where he continues to pursue his practice.
Sisyphe (2017) 0:12:48
In the desert, a man extracts stones and fossils from a mountain and breaks them. In his perpetual labor, he meditates upon life and death.
Born in 1979, Driss Aroussi is a French-Moroccan artist living and working in Marseille, France. The artistic work of Driss Aroussi is polysemic, borrowing several lines of research, navigating between experimentation and documentary form. In his practice he uses what allows to reproduce reality as photography, to grasp it as video. In recent years he has photographed construction sites, spending time with workers, sharing their daily lives, considering men, tools, objects and places. The real for him also bears the mark of work, the stigmata of its contradictions, the signs of the transformation that it operates on our reality.
With the film “Sisyphus” a new narrative dimension brings a poetic and complementary look at the body at work, humanity and the spaces of the daily work: the perpetual cycle of life.
Biographies and Synopsys – Part 2: Media Library
We Fell Into The Water Staying Dry (2013) 0:03:16
Born in Tehran in 1984 Tehran, Shirin Sabahi uses image as the primary material in her works and text as the interlocutor of ideas embedded in the image. Ranging from video and slide projection installations to collages, artist books and movie subtitles, her projects often develop from tracing the visual and textual material she collects. In her artistic practice, she addresses interpretations and identifications encouraged by language and image in relation to different temporalities employing translation and transformation and playing with formats and rituals of fabricating and perceiving art and in a broader sense meaning.
Her work has been exhibited at Oberhausen Short Film Festival; Kunstbygning, Aarhus; Konsthall C, Stockholm; and Mercosur Biennial, Porto Alegre; among others.
Shirin is a 2012-2013 Film and New Media Fellow at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart.
In 2011, she was awarded the Magic of Persia Contemporary Art Prize (MOP CAP).
Tampa: A Walk on the Beach (2008) 0:13:30
Mireille Eid (Astore)
“Tampa” was a site-specific sculpture, performance, photography, video and web Art project that took place as part of the “Sculpture by the Sea” exhibition in Sydney. It imposed itself on an essentially sandy and hedonistic Tamarama Beach. For 18 days, Astore sat within the prison
shaped Tampa sculpture, taking photographs of observers and circulating these photographs on her website at the end of each day. Endurance and claustrophobia were presented as a re-enactment of the suffering experienced by the refugees on the the Norwegian ship Tampa after the Australian Government’s refusal to let them ashore in 2001.
Mireille Astore is an artist and a writer. She and her parents fled the Lebanese civil war and her beloved Beirut in 1975 to live in Australia. She has a bachelor of science and a studio and theory PhD in contemporary arts titled Missing Lebanon: Art and Autobiography. Her artworks have been exhibited in over twenty countries and she has given a number of performances and public lectures internationally. She is currently adjunct lecturer at Sydney College of the Arts, the visual arts faculty of the University of Sydney and research affiliate at the American University of Beirut. She is the recipient of the prestigious Australian Government 2011 Endeavor Research Fellowship Award.
Deep Sleep (2014) 0:12:45
The Story of Milk and Honey (2011) 0:10:00
A hypnosis-inducing pan-geographic shuttle built on brainwave-generating binaural beats, Deep Sleep takes us on a journey through the sound waves of Gaza to travel between different sights of modern ruin. Restricted from travel to Palestine, I learned auto-hypnosis for the purpose of bi-locating. What results is a journey, recorded on Super 8mm film, to the ruins of ancient civilizations embedded in modern civilization in ruins, to a site ruined beyond evidence of civilization. Deep Sleep is an invitation to move from the corporeal self to the cinema space in a collective act of bi-location that transcends the limits of geographical borders and plays with the fallibility of memory.
The Story of Milk and Honey is a short experimental video belonging to a larger project, which includes photographs, drawings and text, detailing an un-named individual’s failure to write a love story. Through voiceover narration that weaves together images, letters, and songs, a story of defeat transpires into a journey that explores how we collect and perceive information, understand facts, history, images, and sound and where the individual is to be found in the midst of the material.
Basma Alsharif’s work considers the transmission of the history of Palestine, between fiction and reality. Sequences which have been filmed or recorded, collected in the media or on social networks are collated into montages with a highly developed plasticity, where subtitles, and therefore the text, has as much individual presence as the soundtrack (found, borrowed from the repertoire of middle-eastern popular music, or mixed) and yet they remain very separate. Memory appears to be in full mutation, uncertain and subjective.
In 2014-2015, Alsharif was artist in residence at the Pavillon Neuflize OBC creative laboratory of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. In 2016 Basma Alsharif was nominated for the Prix Découverte of the Rencontres d’Arles by Mouna Mékouar.