Like a flower waiting to bloom, like a light bulb in a dark room

Amanda Abi Khalil

Sawsan Al-Sarraf

Ali Cherri

Laure De Selys

Kinda Hassan

Hatem Imam

Paul Hage Boutros

Caline Aoun

Charbel-Joseph H. Boutros

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January 16, 2013 8:00 pm

“Like a flower waiting to bloom, like a light bulb in a dark room” Amanda Abi Khalil

Screening program curated by Amanda Abi Khalil duration: 1h 40’

These video and installation-video works have various themes, aesthetics, and languages in common, but mainly these are productions of artists who have participated in the previous editions of exposure. The works have been produced after the artists’ selection to the exhibition or they are older works that have not yet been brought to light.

The videos will transform Beirut art center’s auditorium and its premises into an experiential chamber for video installations.

Rihla iii (Sawsan Al-Sarraf, 14’29, 2010) a two-channel video questions people, places, and traces. Aesthetically influenced by Chris Marker’s la jetee the video deals with displaced people, places they occupy and traces them leave behind.

Deportation (Bassem Mansour and Dana Al-Jouder, 4’18, 2012) recorded during a shopping trip around town, the deportation story told in detail by a person whom the artists met for the first time is taken for a different location under the sun and next to the swimming pool.

Dreams in three chapters (Ali Cherri, 7’15, 2011) between dreamscape and reality, this video is a journey in three chapters, on the backdrop background of the uprisings in the Arab world.  A rise, a decline, and a fall that creates a tabula rasa. “sometimes dreams have to hurt before they become reality.”

Dahie (Karine Wehbe, 3’13, 2007) a poetic errancy through the southern suburb of Beirut in the aftermath of the 2006 war.

The ragpicker, the film crew and the city (Laure De Selys, 5’33, 2012) a film crew, and a garbage collector share the same frame with Beirut as a background. Both seem to work on a common intention: ‘’the representation’’ of the city.

Cairography (Kinda Hassan and Dalia Naous, 18’36, 2013) cairography is an attempt to test the limits of the body’s ability to confront the restrictions of society, and to question the visible and invisible boundaries between public and private spaces in the city of Cairo: what is it like to walk the streets of the city? What is allowed and what is forbidden?

Gabbar (almighty) (Hatem Imam, 10’27, 2008) a video featuring Elvis Presley and Abdel Halim Hafez.

Filming the dark (Charbel-Joseph H.Boutros, 9’, 2011) on a sunny day in the city of Sao Paulo, the artist’s atelier was well lit. He turned off the electric lights and obstructed the windows to let zero light into the space. His studio became a black volume, a black box in the white modern city. His impossibility to see and create thus became a sculptural and political act. He turned on his camera and filmed the darkness for nine minutes. Filming the darkness as an impossible attempt, filming invisible realities

Gray clouds obscure the sun (Paul Hage Boutros, 12’49, 2013) the artist is building a wall between himself and the viewer. His actions cause a dual process. On the one hand, by building a wall he conceals himself to make himself imperceptible. On the other hand, it is exactly by building a wall that he comes to reveal himself by exposing himself totally; his secrets, fears, and anxieties can now be contemplated in all their nakedness.

A moment of singularity in the cyclical rhythm of the sun 2 (Caline Aoun, 12’14, 2013) a metallic disc positioned atop a stand on the rooftop of the artist’s studio appears as an artificial sun, by reflecting the light of the sunset. It is easy to see that this is not the sun, but that doesn’t undermine its efficacy as an illusion. The pictorial infrastructure around the object, its relation to the skyline, and its light becoming duller and warmer as the night falls make its status as the sun unshakable in the mind of the viewer. All the signifiers we rely on for the registration of such an image are present, its shape, position in the sky, and the warm hues for which we have a deeply embedded biological affinity. All of these things play upon our minds as we register this sculptural object as a cheap, even pathetic shorthand for that which cannot be replicated – the very center of the universe.

untitled (Ferris wheel Beirut) (John Jurayj, 11’33, 2011) using footage from his final visit with his late father to Lebanon, Jurayj documents his experience riding the world-famous Ferris wheel at Beirut’s Luna park with his then-husband. Constructed in the mid-twentieth century, the iconic Ferris wheel survived the Lebanese civil war and was nearly continuously operating throughout the strife and chaos. It is a rusting and collapsing symbol of perseverance and strength.  The sound both captures the cacophony of the city, as well as the piercing grind of the vintage ride. The work speaks both to the monstrous and the personal through its dissonant and jarring sound combined with its sometimes sexualized, inhuman images that border on the sublime. Untitled (Ferris wheel Beirut) will be screened outdoors.

* Program title from Nina Simone’s turn me on.