Immaterial collection ii, forum 3: evolving icons

Ajlan Gharem

Bassem Saad

Sanaz Sohrabi

Ayreen Anastas

Ninar Esber

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June 13, 2018 7:30 pm

The “spectacular” memorial event is created in order to produce a certain kind of collective memory…through actual physical monuments and architectural grandiosity: “the word in stone.”
Katharyne Mitchell (2003)

Icons of collective memory adorn landscapes around the world in the forms of both historically imbued structures and newly constructed monuments. Each a performative reminder of strong held but sometimes polarizing beliefs, values, and identifiers, these icons are both revered and changeable. Powerful symbols of influence and identity, icons have the power to erase alternative narratives, yet are demolished more quickly than built. This third forum explores the icon as the product of evolving collective consciousness; sacred, powerful and precarious.

Part 1: Open Call 34m
Ajlan Gharem – Paradise Has Many Gates
Bassem Saad – Saintrise: I Am A Grain of Wheat (working title)
Sanaz Sohrabi – The Glory, the Human and the Mother: A Cartography


Part 2: Media Library 48m
Ayreen Anastas– m* of Bethlehem
Ninar Esber – La Estrella

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. A fifth forum of video works, From Syria, considers some of the ways in which the continuing war is being discussed and represented through video.

This second installment of Immaterial Collection is curated by BAC’s visiting researcher Joy Stacey.

Biographies and Synopsys, Part 1: Open Call

Paradise Has Many Gates (2015) 0:04:48
Ajlan Gharem

The mosque is a symbol of the power structures that rise above the individual; whether in the form of other brother, father, imam or state. The mosque is at once a free public place, and one where attendance is mandatory.

Ajlan Gharem is a multidisciplinary artist who explores how Saudis articulate their culture. He is particularly interested in Saudi culture in a world of increasing globalization and constantly changing power dynamics. In a climate of rapid development across the Gulf, and a cautious Saudi response, Ajlan’s work focuses on the balance of power between the individual and the state and on his generation’s ability to create change. Ajlan received an undergraduate degree in Mathematics at King Khalid University and continues to apply this analytical training to his art. Born in the conservative southern city of Khamis Mushayt in Saudi Arabia, Ajlan is now based in Riyadh where he works as a teacher of Mathematics at Al Sahabah Public School. He is a co-founder of Gharem Studio along with his brother, the artist Abdulnasser Gharem.

Saintrise: I Am A Grain of Wheat (working title) (2018) 0:15:10
Bassem Saad


Bassem Saad is an artist/writer with a background in architecture. His practice deals or has dealt with future visualization, identity-based space and knowledge production, and market exchanges and/or interfaces that include affect or bodily pleasure.

The Glory, the Human and the Mother: A Cartography (2017) 0:17:00
Sanaz Sohrabi

Wanderings, speculations, and observations in search of the vestiges of three monuments in Eastern Anatolia, Georgia, and Armenia. Oscillating between archival materials and documentation from the monuments’ sites, The glory, the human and the mother: a cartography follows and observes three different monuments which were built and later demolished, altered or repurposed, each as part of a separate nation-making project. Movements, objects, photographs, and fluxes of different materials seem to be repeating one another, images lose their author and every picture can be read in relation to the hitherto visible or an anticipation of the forthcoming.

Sanaz Sohrabi (Tehran.1988) works with experimental moving image, installation, and objects. Performing history via memory and animating the pace of memory through destabilizing the residual archives have been at the core of her research-based practice. Her work has been screened at Videonale 16 Bonn, Fiva 06 Buenos Aires (first prize for short film), Images festival 2017 Toronto, Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival 2017, and Transart Triennale 16 Berlin, among others. She holds a BFA from the University of Tehran and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently a PhD student at the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at the Concordia University, Montreal.

Biographies and Synopsys, Part 2: Media Library

m* of Bethlehem (2003) 0:21:00
Ayreen Anastas

‘m* of Bethlehem’ is a video map that compares contemporary Bethlehem with a map of the city from 1973; this, alongside a selection of other films depict the everyday and overlooked, often where the personal, political and social converge.

Brooklyn-based Ayreen Anastas was born in Bethlehem, Palestine. She uses text, film, video, audio and the internet to create work that focuses on legal and discursive shifts around differing notions of security and the subsequent effects on everyday life. Anastas is one of the organizers of the 16 Beaver group, an artist community that functions as a social and collaborative space on 16 Beaver street in downtown Manhattan, where the group hosts panel discussions, film series, artist talks, radio recordings, reading groups and more.

La Estrella (2008-2010) 0:27:00
Ninar Esber

“La Estrella” is the story of a woman that we follow through her ascension on a scaffolding. We don’t know if this woman is a ghost, or a saint. Are we witnessing her martyrdom or her mystical journey?

Ninar Esber was born in 1971 in Beirut, Lebanon, and is a visual artist and writer. She left Lebanon in 1986 and settled in France. From 1995 to 2000 she studied at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts of Paris Cergy. Since the early 2000s, Ninar Esber has developed a protean and political artistic practice. Through performance, video, photography and sculpture, the artist points out the discriminations and inequalities that are generated by patriarchal systems. She pays particular attention to the status and role given to women in the Middle East, in Europe or elsewhere. She willingly lends her body to highlight the absurdity, hypocrisy, violence and injustice that women and so-called minorities are subjected to. Ninar Esber systematically instills a formal rift from these difficult subjects. She manipulates the seductive effects at play, stirs our curiosity, and encourages us to reflect upon our relations with others.