“matter, like meaning, is not an individually articulated or static entity. matter is not little bits of nature, or a blank slate, surface, or site passively awaiting signification; nor is it an uncontested ground for scientific, feminist, or marxist theories. matter is not a support, location, referent, or source of sustainability for discourse. matter is not immutable or passive. it does not require the mark of an external force like culture or history to complete it. matter is always already an ongoing historicity.”
karen barad, posthumanist performativity: toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter
drawing a parallel between two distinct narratives in beirut’s recent history, arsanios’s research looks at the aftermath of the neoliberal project that took shape at the beginning of the 1990s, in the years immediately following the end of the lebanese civil war. starting from a situation that remains present in the recent visual and political memory during the garbage crisis that began in 2014, this exhibition addresses the threatening long-term transformations that are brought about the system of late capitalism, and the local reverberations of this system on lebanon's environmental and sociopolitical reality. the exhibition features a film projection, an installation and a series of drawings.
the installation takes the spaces of different garbage dumps around the city of beirut to look at the accumulation of waste and its relation to strategic real estate development. it is made of different elements; sculptures and topographies, drawings and a film that come together in one spatial installation. the film takes as its starting point the destruction of the building where the artist herself grew up and moves into looking at how rubble is used as a material on garbage dumps, mixed with waste in order to build land extensions that are then turned into real estate havens. it has been one of the strategies used by real estate development in order to gain land and privatize the seashore. it attempts to look at matter and material in its intrinsic relation to real estate and economy, and to look at the real estate economy from the perspective of matter with all its histories, but furthermore to deal with the viral side of history. the series of drawings of fauna and flora takes the ecosystem of the garbage dumps in order to map out the living beings around these spaces. the topographies also work as a mapping device for the different dumps, land extensions and plans for land extensions, bringing together in one space the different temporalities of these development projects.
marwa arsanios (b. 1978, washington dc, lives and works in beirut, lebanon) received her mfa from university of the arts london in 2007, and was a researcher in the fine art department at jan van eyck academie from 2011 to 2012. she has had solo exhibitions at witte de with, rotterdam, the netherlands (2016), kunsthalle lissabon, lisbon (2015), and art in general, new york (2015).
her work was also shown at the 55th venice biennale (2013), the 12th istanbul biennial (2011), home works forum in beirut (2010, 2013, 2015), the new museum, new york (2014), m hka, antwerp, belgium (2013), and ngbk, berlin (2012). screenings of her videos have taken place at the berlinale, berlin (2010, 2015), e-flux storefront, new york (2009), and centre pompidou, paris (2011). in 2012 arsanios was awarded the special prize of the pinchuk future generation art prize.