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HOPE – Beirut Art Fair

septembre 21, 2017

mounir FATMI (focus artist)
Janet BIGGS, Debi CORNWALL & Alexandre D’HUY

Presented by: Barbara Polla & Chiara Bertini
Beirut Art Fair

Booth B 10, BIEL Beirut International Exhibition & Leisure Center

When the director of an art fair decides to give its fair a political orientation, to promote human rights, to share values and to value sharing, this is an extraordinary sign of hope, and even more so when this happens in Lebanon, a country that knows so much about war and thrives so much for peace.

When the same director of the same art fair decides to select Rose Issa to curate, within the context of the fair, an exhibition on the aesthetic, conceptual and socio-political concerns of the contemporary Arab world, hope becomes a concrete construction towards intercultural understanding and openness. Issa’s exhibition, entitled Ourouba, The Eye of Lebanon, will bear witness to the diverse inspirations of artists from the Arab world, exploring memory, destruction and reconstruction, conflict and peace.

Analix Forever will aim to contribute to these reflections by presenting, first of all, mounir fatmi as a focus artist. The possibility of intercultural understanding and sharing is a “red thread” throughout the work of Moroccan artist. In Beirut, fatmi will show Impossible Union: an occidental typewriter is releasing Arabic letters… The learning of all languages would make this union possible and this work gave its title to fatmi’s latest solo show in Geneva: (IM)POSSIBLE UNION : a door that opens towards hope.

fatmi also shows the series The Island of Roots (2017) which reminds us that the United States once have been a land of immigration and welcome. Ellis Island was this mythical gateway where so many hopes for a new life were sealed. The Island of Roots series feature reproductions of Lewis Hines photographs of which fatmi has drawn their complex, unifying roots: vegetal, neurons-like, abounding and, sometimes, bloody roots.

Furthermore, Analix Forever will present works by Janet Biggs, Debi Cornwall and Alexandre D’Huy. While recently in Djibouti, US-based video artist Janet Biggs witnessed Yemeni refugees fleeing the bombing and devastation in Yemen. They risk everything to cross the Gulf of Aden and arrive at Camp Markazi in Obock. At the same time, migrant Ethiopians fleeing their country’s oppression and poverty brave a four day walk across the desert of Djibouti to also arrive to Obock and take the same boats back across the Gulf of Aden, hoping to make their way to Saudi Arabia. They don’t all survive the journey, but the persistence of human hope is endless when traveling far from home. The video Afar, a fable of the human condition, with an implicit narrative, tells us about humankind and the complex, double-edged nature of otherness. The video is also about remembering and honoring a child from Djibouti, in an allusive, artistic, choreographed way.

Debi Cornwall, conceptual documentary artist who returned to visual expression in 2014 after a 12-year career as a wrongful conviction lawyer, presents three pictures from her long-term photographic project on Guantánamo Bay, Welcome to Camp America: a disorienting and empathic, respectful and ironic, professional and sensitive gaze on the reality of the U.S. Naval Station in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (known as “Gitmo”). The lack of frontal criticism leaves the viewer with his/her own duty to decide what he/she is seeing and the profound meaning of the images shown.

Finally, because war is everywhere and we should not refuse to be aware of it, the works on paper by Alexandre d’Huy show us images, or rather effects of war, while never depicting human beings. The images are inspired by the thousands of thermal photographs to be found every day on the web, of explosions, blow ups, and powerful alterations of our earth. In d’Huy’s hands however they become beautiful holes, suggesting the possibility (or the necessity?) to leave Earth through them, to join other planets, another universe. But why are we fascinated by evil beauty and the allusions to death? This is the essential question addressed by Alexandre d’Huy in this series. So lets look and think… “The beauty will save the world” said Dostoyevsky. Could this be true?

At least, there is HOPE.

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