Unfinished Conversations

John Akomfrah

Zineb Sedira

Penny Siopis

February 23, 2015 - May 3, 2015

john akomfrah · zineb sedira · penny siopis

beirut art center presents unfinished conversations, the first exhibition in its two-year program of exhibitions, events and educational activities, entitled present time.ourselves. unfinished conversations is first and foremost an exhibition of films and videos that gathers the works of british artist john akomfrah, franco/algerian artist zineb sedira, and south african artist penny siopis. a series of talks will also be taking place during the exhibition.

the unfinished conversations project is a tribute to the late british and caribbean thinker, cultural theorist and sociologist stuart hall (1932 -2014), who was one of the founders of the british concept of cultural studies, and co-founder of political magazine new left review. the works displayed here were chosen for the way in which they echo hall’s conceptions. the constant motion of the film and the dispersion of speech refer to a central idea in his thinking: the necessary instability and multiple definitions of what is called identity. he conceived of the latter as a conversation “forever unfinished,” prone to the fluctuations of history and memory, and emanating from a constant exchange between oneself and others. this conception illuminates current discussions on racism and segregation, as well as different experiences of coexistence and dialogue.

the exhibition includes six distinct projections. the unfinished conversation (2012) is a three-channel video installation by john akomfrah, based on hall’s writings. zineb sedira’s installation mother tongue (2002) is a three-channel video installation that combines the issue of “mother” tongue and that of geographical and cultural displacement. she films her mother, her daughter and herself speaking the language of the country where they were raised: arabic, english and french. penny siopis’films, my lovely day, the master is drowning, communion and obscure white messenger, exhume an impossible speech, or a discourse that was never held, giving voice to unlikely figures from the history of apartheid, thus defeating this system’s binary nature.