The crisis of the nation-state, which is a crisis of the connection between birth and nation, ushers in a biopolitical modernity in the extreme. The fiction of sovereignty is in a certain manner uncovered by another fiction, or rather by another history, one that Benjamin calls ‘‘the tradition of the oppressed.’’
Katia Genel (2016)
How do individuals narrate their relation to the nation state in which they reside, were born in, or displaced from? How is this relationship impacted by violences perpetrated by or towards those nation states? How can individuals represent those tenuous but deeply personal relationships? This fourth forum in the series raises questions of home and belonging, and personal negotiation of violences and narration regarding those spaces.
Part 1: Open Call (50m)
Ali Eyal – Tonight’s Programme
Aikaterini Gegisian – Diego Garcia
Ronnie Close – More Out of Curiosity
Part 2: Media Library (40m)
Elia Suleiman and Jayce Salloum – Introduction to the End of an Argument
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 Synopses, Part 1: Open Call
Tonight’s Programme (2018) 0:14:03
Tonight’s’ Programme toys with history to construct a new realm in between, merging Duke Ellington’s 1963 performance at Khuld Hall in Baghdad with Saddam’s bloody coup in the same space 16 years later. Eyal creates a fictional space to provide a different history and a different world for those victims in the hall, a gate of Annunaki through which the dead and lost can reclaim their place.
“Don’t let anyone kill your daughter in the underworld. Don’t let your precious metal be alloyed with the dirt of the underworld. Don’t let your precious lapis lazuli be split there with the mason’s stone. Don’t let your boxwood be chopped up there with the carpenter’s wood.” – Words by Inana of the underworld, the land of no return.
Ali Eyal’s (b. Baghdad, 1994) work spans across different media. He holds an undergraduate degree from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad. His work explores the complex relationships between community and politics using different media such as video, photography and painting, in order to examine social attitudes, particularly in the context of Baghdad and Iraq. Eyal has exhibited in several group shows in Baghdad, Egypt, Lebanon, USA, Greece, and Cuba, among others.
Diego Garcia (2010) 0:16:00
Diego Garcia is an artist’s documentary, which looks at the deportation of the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean (now the site of one of the biggest American military bases in the world) by the British Government to Mauritius. The film juxtaposes text extracts from the Chagossian’s High Court testimonies, which collectively portray the islands as a paradise lost, with a camera that continuously wanders in the Mauritian landscape. These testimonies become the starting point for looking at Mauritius and the Indian Ocean as a complex set of relationships and act as catalysts in unravelling the hidden traces of history inscribed in spaces.
The film takes the form of a journey where landscape becomes the central character. Blending different narrative voices, such as the collective voice of the testimonies, the observational eye of the artist with ambient voices and sounds, the film comments on shifting geographies, on the myth of paradise and on the ways we inhabit a globalised world.
Aikaterini Gegisian (b. Thessaloniki, Greece) lives and works between the UK and Greece. Her multi-faceted work explores how images (from still to moving) operating within a global media environment that shapes the conscious and unconscious contain new possibilities for thought. For 2018 she is a Research Fellow at the Library of Congress, Washington DC and at Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen, Innsbruck, Austria developing a new essay film on the ‘image’ of Europe based on post WW2 USA newsreels. In 2015, she was one of the exhibiting artists at the Armenian Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale, which received the Golden Lion for best national participation. She has been awarded the Nagoya University Award in 2001, and she was shortlisted for the First Book Award in 2015. In 2016, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art organised the first survey of her moving image practice. Her work was presented at recent survey exhibitions including the 6th Moscow Biennale, Russia, the 3rd Mardin Biennal, Turkey, the 2nd Tallin Photomonth, Estonia, the 1st Thessaloniki Biennale, Greece and the 6th Gyumri Biennale, Armenia. Her work has been shown in museums, galleries and in festivals internationally including National Arts Museum of China, Beijing; Kunsthalle Osnabruck, Germany; DEPO, Istanbul; BALTIC, Newcastle; Calvert 22 Foundation, London; Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, Athens; NARS Foundation, New York; Centre for Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki; Spike Island Gallery, Bristol; Kasseler Dok Fest, Kassel, Germany; Oberhausen Film Festival, Germany among others. Works of the artist are included in prominent private and museum collections.
More Out of Curiosity (2014) 0:26:06
One of the key players in the politics of 2011 in Egypt were the fanatical football supporters, the Ultras. Although affiliated to different teams in the domestic league they often joined forces in street protests to remove Hosni Mubarak in January 2011. The controversy over the 2012 Port Said incident when 74 Al-Ahly fans were killed in forced the Ultras back onto the streets. More Out of Curiosity is a film work drawing on documentary narratives to frame the capacity of resistance in social movements. This film is constructed from video footage drawn from a number of sources, including the Al-Ahly Ultras themselves who shared their video archive material. The assemblage of images of street protests, football games, riots and banner making helps stitch together a narrative to reveal their unique subculture in an overlapping meta-documentary format. The film work is bookended by the Port Said incident and the court verdict a year later. This structure is divided into seven scenes which define and categorize the video imagery. No voiceover resists the direct deciphering of the video material and the film operates on an instinctive, visceral level driven by a charged soundtrack.
Ronnie Close is a documentary media artist and writer living in Cairo, Egypt. His research interests look at the relationship between aesthetics and image politics. He has worked on a long-term research project on the Ultras football movements in Egypt, Brazil and Palestine.
Biographies and Synopses, Part 2: Media Library
Introduction to the End of an Argument (1990) 0:40:57
Elia Suleiman and Jayce Salloum
This highly kinetic tableaux of uprooted sights and sounds works most earnestly to expose the racial biases concealed in familiar images. Relying on valuable snippets from feature films such as “Exodus”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, “Black Sunday”, “Little Drummer Girl”, and network news shows, the filmmakers have constructed an oddly wry narrative, mimicking the history of Middle East politics.
Elia Suleiman is a Palestinian film director born in Nazareth, Israel. He is best known for Divine Intervention (2002), The Time that Remains (2009) and Chronicle of a Disappearance (1996). On Introduction to the End of an Argument, “I’m not talking about Palestinians. I’m talking about all conflicts and all regressions and all pollutions and the [global economic] crash, and globalization.”
A photographer and video artist, Jayce Salloum is known for installation works that sensitively investigate historical, social and cultural contexts of place. The central themes played out in his work include questions of exile, ethnic representation and notions of identity. Exhibiting nationally and internationally, his work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art and the Centre Pompidou, among other institutions. In 2014, Salloum won a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.