for the fifth year in a row, beirut art center (bac) is organizing exposure, its only annual exhibition, dedicated to emerging artists in and from lebanon.
with the aim of encouraging every eligible artist to apply, exposure is conceived as an open and flexible exhibition that is only defined by the characteristics of each project, as well as the diversity of the media and themes in the show. like every year, bac invites a new jury to make the selection. gregory buchakjian (art historian and artist), fares chalabi (philosopher), tarek abou el fetouh (curator), and rania stefan (filmmaker/artist) formed this year’s jury; as it is customary the board of bac had one voice. for the sake of presenting an exhibition that is rich in content, fourteen artists were selected from a pool of a hundred applicants, making exposure 2013 the largest edition to date.
exposure 2013 presents the occasion to reflect on several ideas and themes. the following description is by no means exhaustive, but is meant to give an idea of some of the concerns and practices of each artist. although working with different media, camila salame, christine kettaneh, helene kazan, inaya hodeib, and maha kays express particular impressions of memory and home. the inescapable longing for an impossible home is the impetus behind the poetic imagery in salame’s sculptures. kettaneh’s interest lies in language, but also in the access to the home, that is in the key, and especially in what has been cut to make it. kazan’s multimedia installation sets the ordinary image of the domestic space against a complex conceptual framework of pre-emption, a strategy learned in times of war. hodeib’s work also has references in the lebanese civil war. she seeks to take the portrait form to new terrains by drawing on her light-hearted memories from childhood, and setting them against a backdrop of ‘pop culture’ products, signifiers from the war period. also reminiscent of war, a sound unexpectedly emerges allowing a story to be told in maha kays’ video installation.
a personal story is the starting point in the works of yasmine eid sabbagh and rozenn quere, lara tabet, pedro barakat, and yasmina haddad. eid-sabbagh and quere deal with exile, memory and fiction, exploring different possibilities offered by reading images and biographical narration. tabet also works with family photographs; only it is a therapeutic gesture of understanding and coping with loss. to investigate the past and present of a homeland he never saw as a child, barakat begins his journey by looking at his father’s objects and diaries. starting at what used to be her father’s gallery and furniture factory in beirut, haddad revisits art deco using a cross-thematic approach.
the body is a broad theme that connects the works of shirin abu shaqra, randa mirza, and wael kodeih. abu shaqra meditates on the pathological body as a laborious rite of initiation. the body is questioned in mirza’s photography installation, as she addresses gender performance and sexuality. kodeih’s intrigue in the phenomenon of a censored and defaced female body led him to research the topics of activism, internet security, and surveillance.
images and events from the contemporary history of our region inform the works of maxim hourani and monira al qadiri. hourani comments on the forms and causes of dissent, and actively involves the viewer in the creation of spaces of protest. from a different perspective, at a time when apocalyptic theories are gaining popular momentum in the region, monira al qadiri recreates the latent nostalgic likeness of doomsday by juxtaposing paradisiacal poetry with amateur vhs footage of the burning oil fields in kuwait at the end of the first gulf war in 1991.
lastly, like previous editions, exposure 2013 is not a curated exhibition, because of a consensus not to exclude a promising artist on the basis of a theme or an artistic approach. yet this year bac put emphasis on discussing the projects with each artist, aiming to accompany them in the process of making their works for the exhibition.
a wide range of media and forms characterize this edition, from photography and video, installations and sculptures, to texts and a painting. and while it is completely arbitrary, it is striking that most of the exhibiting artists live abroad.
an exhibition catalogue featuring the works of all participants will be produced and launched on the opening night. in addition to the possibility of keeping a record of this edition, the catalogue is also a platform for the artists to present ideas and materials around the works on display, as well as insights into their artistic practice as a whole.
shirin abu shaqra is a lebanese-canadian artist and filmmaker. she was born in doha to a lebanese father and a syrian mother. she has lived in montreal, alexandria, istanbul and cairo, and currently resides between paris and beirut. in 2010 shirin received her master of fine arts with honors from the fresnoy, national studio for contemporary arts in france. before entering the artistic field, shirin had obtained a diplôme d’études approfondies (dea) in political science (2006) and a master of arts in history (2004) from université saint joseph in beirut. she worked at the centre for modern arab studies (cemam – usj) for eight years, researching social and cultural changes in the arab world and publishing academic articles. she has produced five short films to date, including the poetic essay hold on my glamorous (34’) that won the best film award at the lebanese film festival in 2009. shirin also composes ‘musical voyages’ for exhibitions. she is currently writing her first feature film even donkeys have remorse, and will be participating in the 2013 doxlab training and production program. i think the world of it and some body to love are her first two mixed media video installations.
monira al qadiri is a kuwaiti artist, who was born in senegal. she pursued her studies in japan and obtained a ph.d. in intermedia art from tokyo university of the arts in 2010. her research focused on the aesthetics of sadness in the middle east by looking at poetry, music, art, and religious practices. her work also explores the relationship between narcissism and masculinity, as well as other dysfunctional gender roles in arab societies. her artistic practice is more and more involved in social and political subjects. al qadiri has taken part in exhibitions and film screenings in tokyo, kuwait, beirut, dubai, berlin, new york and moscow, among others.
during the lebanese civil war, tony and tina barakat moved from beirut to são salvador da bahia, brazil. their son pedro barakat was born a few years later. as a child, he never visited his home country. pedro barakat studied anthropology at the university of são paulo, focusing his research on the notion of sacredness for the tribes of the southern amazon. after graduating, barakat visited lebanon for the first time. he spent several months in beirut, daily strolling the streets, and recording his multiple observations in little brown notebooks. he enjoyed the city’s sunsets and copious amounts of falafel sandwiches, and eventually went back to são paulo, where he continues to develop his artistic research and production. barakat has participated in several collective exhibitions in both são paulo and salvador da bahia. exposure 2013 is his first exhibition in lebanon.
yasmine eid-sabbagh studied history, photography and visual anthropology in paris. from 2006 to 2011, she lived in burj al-shamali, a refugee camp next to sour, where she carried out a photographic research that included a dialogical project with a group of young palestinians, as well as archival work on family and studio photographs. since 2008, yasmine eid-sabbagh has been a member of the arab image foundation. she is a doctoral candidate at the academy of fine arts in vienna since 2011.
rozenn quéré studied cinema and photography in paris. she is settled in brussels, where she works on the link between photography and narrative. although confined to the solitary practices of photography and writing, quéré has developed many collaborative and interdisciplinary projects. she has directed short films, and published several children’s books and artist books. in 2011, eid-sabbagh and quéré earned the 8th vevey international photo award to produce a re-reading of a photographic family archive from the perspective of its narrative and poetic possibilities. in 2012 they received the arles discovery award for the resultant text-image project possible and imaginary lives (original title in french: vies possibles et imaginaires) in which they experiment at the crossroad of their personal universes.
yasmina haddad (b. 1972) studied fashion design at studio bercot in paris and photography at the schule für künstlerische fotografie in vienna (with friedl kubelka, seiichi furuya, and wolfgang tillmans). she received grants to participate in a residency program at the cité des arts in paris (2004), and produce a research and performance project about women in electronic music in the context of patterns, a cultural program by erste foundation (2008). she founded and produced music with rashim (2000- 2008). the band has released music and sound projects with different labels, and contributed scores to the experimental films of karø goldt that were shown internationally (transmediale berlin, sonar barcelona, filmfestival rotterdam, filmmuseum wien, imageforum tokyo, centre georges pompidou, austrian cultural institute in new york). she has also created stage settings for theatre, performances, and visual arts. haddad is currently working as an artist, freelance photographer, and co-director of the offspace school in vienna. she is also teaching at the academy of fine arts in vienna and the institute for fashion design (schule für gestaltung) in basel. her work in sound and visual art has been presented at glasshill projects (london), wiener festwochen (vienna), netmage (bologna), the french cultural ministry (paris), air de paris (paris), le lieu unique (nantes), medienturm (graz), dispatch (belgrade), wien modern (vienna), kunstraum noe (vienna), kunsthalle project space (vienna), magazin (vienna), mak nite (vienna), among others.
inaya hodeib was born in beirut in 1983. she received a diploma in painting and sculpture from the lebanese institute of fine arts in 2006. she resides and works from her studio in the netherlands. currently she paints on large-scale canvases, depicting portraits of canines in an agitated state as a metaphor for social and human traits. since 2006 she has been working as a painter, although in 2010 hodeib also launched her career as an illustrator for board games, videogames, and books. she has participated in several collective exhibitions in lebanon, dubai, sweden, new york and germany, including at the salon d’automne, musée sursock, beirut (2006), safana art gallery, beirut (2007), östra gallery, stockholm (2008), karpeles museum, newburgh, new york (2009), warwick gallery, warwick, new york (2010), the rainbow experience, cape town (2010), young collector’s auction, ayyam gallery, dubai (2011 and 2012), beirut art fair, ayyam gallery, beirut (2012), and ramfjord galleri, oslo (2013).
maxime hourani is an architect and artist who resides in beirut. he graduated with a bachelor of architecture from the lebanese american university (2005) before continuing his research in urbanism at the bauhaus institute in dessau (2009). he was recently a participant in the ashkal alwan home workspace program (2013). he works at the office of public affairs-middle east. maxime hourani is engaged in a creative practice that is self-reflexive and communally critical. skepticism, activism, experimentation, and performance are found to underlie his work. blurring the line between activism, art and life, hourani’s approach to the three is consistent – art is used as a vehicle for commentary and critique, activism is approached creatively through art forms and projects, and life is lived as an extension and an impetus for artistic, activist production: creative activism becomes a way of life while questioning habitual or normative modes/ channels of activism. often taking the form of performative acts that extend from or relate to a particular space or place, hourani’s projects conceptually engage in chronotopic explorations that excavate and interweave layers of histories, forms, relations, and meanings embedded within geographies, while underscoring latent and evident power dynamics.
maha kays was born in beirut in 1987. she launched her career with four videoworks and a video installation produced between 2010 and 2012, as she was studying at the université saint joseph (usj). later, kays participated in three collective exhibitions at the école nationale supérieure des beaux-arts (ensba) in paris presenting a sculpture, a video installation, and a triptych video installation. maha kays graduated from the american university of science and technology with a bachelor of arts in radio-television in 2008. specializing in directing, she also obtained a master of cinema studies from usj in 2012. currently, kays lives in france, where she is pursuing her fifth year of studies at the ensba.
helene kazan is a multidisciplinary artist, who across her practice uses research and archival material to generate moving image and multimedia installations. she has exhibited and presented her work internationally: most recently she participated in its always too late, archiving the anthropocene at the showroom, london. she presented in the public image, ivsa 2013 annual conference at goldsmiths university of london and in images of terror, narratives of (in) security - international conference at the university of lisbon, portugal. she had a solo exhibition recently, and gave a performance lecture around a domestic image of preemption at lubomirov easton, london. she also presented a film in the context of social structures at batroun projects, batroun (lebanon). kazan graduated with a first class honors ba in fine art painting from wimbledon school of art, london in 2004, and received her ma in research architecture at goldsmiths, university of london. she is now a ph.d. candidate at the centre for research architecture, goldsmiths, university of london.
christine kettaneh obtained a ba in fine art from the lebanese american university (2007) and a ma in fine art from central saint martins college of art and design (2013). she is also a holder of a ba in economics from the american university of beirut (2003) and a msc in finance and economics from the london school of economics (2005). she has been teaching economics part-time at different universities in beirut and london, while pursuing her practice as a visual artist. kettaneh has participated in several group shows in lebanon and the uk, including sursock museum’s xxix salon d’automne (2009), the lebanese diaspora, int’l art exhibition in dome city center, beirut (2010), a collective exhibition produced in the context of a workshop led by carlos freire in dar al-mona, batroun (2010), the fourth cause in the concourse gallery, london (2012), the interim show in v22, london (2012), and the aub alumni art expo, beirut (2013). she is currently collaborating with the project art:language:location for an event that is going to take place in cambridge in october 2013. she is also organizing her participation in silence and i, a group exhibition that opens in september 2013 at hanmi gallery in london.
wael kodeih was born in nabatieh, lebanon in 1979. he holds a master of professional studies in applied arts from the academie libanaise des beaux arts (alba), a post-diploma from the ecole nationale superieure des arts deco (ensad) in atelier de recherche interactive, and a master 2 of research in contemporary art and new media from the université de paris viii. since 2002, wael goes by the pseudonym “rayess bek,” one of the major performers of hip hop and urban music from the arab world. wael is an author, composer, and interpreter, who has released seven albums and performed more than 300 concerts worldwide. he also participates in residence programs in creative writing in europe, the united states, and the middle east, where he gets the chance to meets and learn from such artists as rodolphe burger, frank fitzpatrick, and miles copeland. in 2012, wael produced goodbye schlöndorff, an audio-visual performance that combines intimate messages that were recorded on cassettes and sent to loved ones in times of war, with short sequences from the film circle of deceit and its making-of directed by volker schlöndorff.
randa mirza graduated from the lebanese academy for fine arts (alba) with a master’s degree in creative advertising, and a bachelor of arts in photography from l’université paris 8. mirza received many prizes, such as the no limit award at les rencontres photographiques d’arles (2006). it is an international prize that rewards a photographer or an artist, whose work takes photography beyond currently acknowledged boundaries. mirza has shown her photographic work in solo exhibitions at the finnish museum of photography, sfeir-semler gallery in hamburg, and vol de nuits (marseille), among others. her work was sold in the context of photographs, an auction by phillips de pury, and presented in collective exhibitions such as moving walls at espace sd (beirut), as well as in other shows at la fiac (paris), art basel (miami), armory show (ny), paris photo, the merz foundation (torino), witte de with (rotterdam), raster gallery (warsaw), fotomuseum winterthur (switzerland), darat al-funun (amman), aleppo international photography festival, fotofestival mannheim-ludwigshafen-heidelberg, kunsthalle wien, and zkm museum, among others. mirza is an invited collaborator to the photographic agency picturtank in paris, and a regular collaborator to zoukak cultural association in lebanon. her work seeks to transgress the normalization of social practices and to subvert the status quo. in the lebanese context of a society under (re) construction, her practice tends to give a voice to what is not represented, questioning as such social constructions.
camila salame (b. 1985) is from colombia. having finished her studies in fine arts and art history at the universidad de los andes in bogotá, camila moved to paris, where she pursued a master’s degree in fine arts at the université paris 1 panthéon-sorbonne. as a child of lebanese immigrants she has always deeply identified with lebanese culture, and has visited lebanon several times in the past years to reconnect with her ‘roots.’ she has developed an artistic practice in sculpture and installation that revolves around the expanded notion of nostalgia. by questioning the origin of this word, from the greek nostos “going back” and algia “pain,” she explores the contemporary meanings of this notion. her sculptures and installations evoke poetic imagery. in her micro and macro universes, camila creates semantic relationships established through the use of different materials and their symbolic meanings. her works remind us of our original house, the now distant ‹place of origin›—a real or mythological somewhere to which we cannot go back. her works suggest the loss of this first ‹home› which gives us the intangible feeling of being away. through the exploration of this intimate topography of the ‘lost home,’ her sculptures recall the ages of life, the passage of generations, the domestic and emotional landscape of our time—in short, a search for the lost home and the pain of this loss.
lara tabet (b. 1983) is a lebanese pathologist and visual artist, who works mainly with photography. in 2010, as she was finishing her residency in clinical pathology at the american university of beirut medical center, tabet participated in a workshop led by klavdij sluban during the rencontres internationales in arles. in 2012, she completed a one-year full time program at the international center of photography in new york, and was the recipient of the lisette model scholarship. she also took part in several group shows in new york and beirut (beirut art fair; on fleeting grounds, galerie janine rubeiz; the view from here, international center of photography; mixed bag, bushwick open studios, etc.). in 2013, she received the daylight photo award juror’s pick for her project the reeds, in collaboration with michelle daher. she is currently working on a new collective project in beirut, while continuing to explore the themes of memory, trauma, the city, and the body.