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"MOBILITY" I Exposure 7
Yasmin Hage-Meany Sandra Iché Eshan Rafi Mahmoud Safadi Merve Ünsal December 18, 2015 > January 29, 2016Opening Reception : December 18, 2015 6pm to 9pm Naming this year's edition of Exposure Mobility points certain visual dimension. "The body is not a thing, it is a to the possibility of movement, to displacement, and to situation: it is our grasp on the world and our sketch of our processes of transformation. Operating within this rather project" (Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949).
extensive field, the members of the jury - Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Stefanie Baumann, Tony Chakar and Andrea Thal In her practice, Yasmin Hage-Meany experiments with - have selected artists whose work deals with the instability circulation, displacement, and the changes in relationship and breaking-down of shapes, and who are furthermore and framing offered by art, in order to articulate personal involved in the evolution of definitions and categories. In and political issues. At the core of her work is a highly their respective practices, the body is a condition and a site energetic and mature practice of drawing, enlarged into for activating artistic purpose, and for carrying out some a large range of scales and meanings, expanding from transformations in symbolic orders and social life. her own hand gestures to those performed by way of mechanical devices, and shifting from a bi-dimensional As part of Beirut Art Center's two-year program, Mobility space to a tri-dimensional one. Here, drawing can adopt seeks to explore, rather than demonstrate, how art can the different meanings of "project," "sketch" or "traces," cross into our world, and produce unexpected occurrences in addition to actual inscriptions on paper. Furthermore, it in our lives. The aim of this program is to question the can be performed using some very unusual material, such collective experience of "present time" and to bring forth as magnets and metal dust: the magnets set the metal dust different approaches toward recent history, through distinct in motion, which produces a tracing system. In parallel, voices. Previous exhibitions focused on time-based art, Hage-Meany has been investigating car-drifting practices, and the special sharing aspect of this practice. Films – by where displacement becomes drifting, and space is used in a artists Penny Siopis, Zineb Sedira, Jumana Manna, La manner that leads to loss of control and sensations of fear, Ribot, John Akomfrah, and Kamal Aljafari - played an floating, and escaping gravity. important part in the program, and shed the light on the dialectic of identification and disjunction articulated The basis of Sandra Iché's practice is dance and history, around the situation of projection. Unfinished Conversations but in the case of Mobility, she is working with image. She was a film-based exhibition paying homage to Stuart Hall, presents a three-screen montage consisting of excerpts which illustrated the way he defined identity as a constant from Syrian director Omar Amiralay's films, together move, and an endless conversation. Aftercinema provided a with dialogue from an interview she conducted with the reflection on films as a raw medium from which to build filmmaker shortly before his death, in February 2011. history, to reconsider hierarchies of representation, and This interview is part of a series of meetings with artists reverse backgrounds and foregrounds. and intellectuals in Beirut, intended as an "archive of the future" for a performance entitled Wagons Libres. Iché kept Retrospective by Xavier Le Roy brought forth the notion of this interview aside, since its momentum is so significant: "life" performance into the exhibition space, showing in the Amiralay's words anticipate and echo the revolution that process the unexpected events of some continuous action, as occurred closely after his death, followed by repression well as the numerous reactions provoked by the latter. The and war. At the time of filming, Iché was a beginner in result of a one-month workshop and collaboration between the domain of video, and was also unacquainted with Le Roy and nine dancers from Beirut, the exhibition created Amiralay's work. The resulting film represents her attempt a time and space where visitors were welcomed, addressed, to adapt to this situation, by inventing a framework where and simultaneously presented with choreographic the two of them could relate. The filmmaker responded movements and narratives. Both audience and performers accordingly, and somehow played a game of make-belief experienced and contributed with great intensity to and seduction with his interviewee; in-so-doing, he brought the ideas, reversals and discussions engendered by the a fictional situation to life in front of the camera, intuitively exhibition. This process of experimentation illustrated the staging the dialogue that he and Iché were improvising. fact that when confronted with other disciplines, the realm As a result we can feel the instability of their exchange, of visual arts is modified, and its possibilities extended. which translates into a kind of "dance" between the one asking questions and the one answering them, framed This is one of the issues at stake in Mobility. Some of the inside a playful conversation that brings to light Amiralay's artists, such as Merve Ünsal and Eshan Rafi, treat the discernment regarding the political situation in the Middle exhibition as a medium and an instance of "being present." In their pieces, as well as in those of Sandra Iché, Yasmin Hage-Meany and Mahmoud Safadi, different media - image, Eshan Rafi's staging of precise conditions and visual setting gesture, text, and sound - interact and produce meaning. enables them to create and explore a range of interactions Alterations and transfers of properties come into play, as with their audience. For Mobility, Rafi is exhibiting a well as connections between their corresponding sensory series of photographs as well as Set, a ground-level space temporarily marked for performance. Set is activated by actors and visitors following indications, scores for The body is indeed the common thread connecting the improvisations, or games. The visitor is invited to step in different pieces presented in Mobility. As the intersection and out of a diagram, a floor drawing, a choreographic between the various conceptions of time we are confronted score, or any other space that drives the body to produce with in our present reality, the body often becomes the movements and meanings. These movements in turn "set" on which to stage, embody or carry the contradictions "produce a specific type of knowledge about the body of history, which the artist is attempting to provide with a and the experience of being in a body." In Rafi's words, it is through the body that we can investigate our social constitution and ourselves: "My interest is in how gender transgressive bodies might destabilize institutions or be delineated by them. Lines, limits and pathways as social categories and markers shape our subjective and felt experience. So when we move through these lines, limits, pathways, there is possibility for disrupting this space, navigating it, or accepting it." For Mobility, Mahmoud Safadi is looking at a very specific ritual from everyday life in the context of the public space, a focus that transports us to a much larger political context. The artist interviewed, photographed and filmed the divers from the Dalieh beach in Raouché. The beautiful rocky seafront of Dalieh is presently the site of a project to build a private beach resort. This venture is raising strong protest and opposition from residents of the city, especially since Dalieh is one of the last un-developed, natural public spaces in Beirut. The sea appears to be an open space, yet it has always been the site for intense political and commercial struggles, which are now concentrated on this small spot. For Safadi, meeting, photographing and filming the divers, thus illustrating their "practice" of the sea, is a way to stress a-political and metaphysical resistance. In Off The Coast There Was, he develops different momenta: the waiting before the plunge, the plunge, and the contact with the water serve to awaken myths of death, birth and resurrection. These images join the sprawling stream of data and multi-faceted narrative presently carried by this same sea, namely the ever-growing and lethal waves of displacement and migration.
Merve Ünsal is a writer whose work draws on the different roles related to art practice: artist, curator, art critic… She borrows from these different positions and moves freely between them, in an attempt to explore some problematic points of history through texts, images, and representations. This attitude, which can be viewed as a kind of activism, leads to different ways of "publishing" facts. Ünsal's intervention in Mobility relates to the treatment of workers on construction sites in Turkey. These workers are often migrants and, as is the case in most neighboring countries, lack the most elementary human rights and respect. Ünsal addresses this situation through an on-site performance, whose preparation and installation will occupy the exhibition space of Beirut Art Center. The artists presented in Mobility come from a variety of contexts, and their practices are quite diverse. The common thread in their different approaches is the ability to shift from one medium to another, thus utilizing the body as a vehicle for sharing or integrating their work. YASMIN HAGE-MEANY (b. 1976) was born, lives and works
ESHAN RAFI born in Lahore, Pakistan, (are) presently based
in Guatemala. She took part in Daniel Schafer's workshop in the territories of the Haudenosaunee and Mississaugas of DSII, Guatemala (1995), and studied at the School of the the New Credit Nation, - also known as Toronto (Canada)- Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), Boston, between 1996 and They hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Edu- cation in Visual Arts from York University. From 2013-2015, Her works deal with the time and site-specific in urban and They were a fellow in the Home Workspace Program at rural contexts, for the gallery space and away from it. Draw- Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. They work with their body, analog ing constitutes the backbone of her undertakings, whether cameras, moving images, text, and other individuals. material, political or poetic. Rafi's work was exhibited in Art Metropole (Toronto), nGBK Her works include Whom Is Looking At Whom (2002), Where (Berlin), Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto) I Stand (2003), Soccer Game (2003), Tamarind – Pope (2004), and Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (Karachi). Bullet - Wood (2004-2011), Cynicism (2004), A History Of Skin They were the national recipient of the Mark S. Bonham (2005), The Interpretation (2006), Model Village, Small History, Scholarship for Queer Studies in Film & Video from the In- 1984 (2007-2013), Stolen Words / Immaterial Managua (2010), side Out LGBT Film & Video Festival (2011), and the region- How Many Times Will We Have To Die To Always Be Us (2014), al winner of the BMO 1st Art Award from BMO Financial and The Forgetting That Does Not Know It Is Forgotten (co-au- thorship with Alejandro Flores, 2015).
Hage-Meany's work was published in Contemporary Languages MAHMOUD SAFADI (b. 1987) is a multidisciplinary artist and
from Central America, by Luisa Fuentes Guaza (2013), and is filmmaker who lives and works in Beirut. He graduated in featured in the collection of The Blanton Museum of Art, 2010 from Toronto's York University where he studied film production, history and digital media. He participated in the 2014-2015 Homeworks Space Program at Ashkal Alwan, SANDRA ICHÉ studied History and Political Sciences at Uni-
versité Paris I-Panthéon Sorbonne and performing arts at The His projects include Transitionary (2009), Missed In Connections Performing Art and Training Studios (P.A.R.T.S.), Brussels, di- (2010), 6,000 Years Of Peaceful Contribution To Mankind (2014), rected by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. In September 2006, There Is No Place To Move (ongoing). His work has been exhib- she joined the dance company Maguy Marin/National Cho- ited in Toronto and Beirut. reographic Center of Rillieux-La-Pape and performed with the company internationally. Since 2010, she pursued her MERVE ÜNSAL (b. 1985) is a visual artist based in Istanbul.
artistic research on the logic of naturalization of constructed She holds an MFA in Photography and Related Media from social realities and the fabrication and writing of History, the Parsons The New School of Design, and a BA in Art and through performances, texts, interviews, publications, work- Archaeology from Princeton University. In her works, she shops and collaborations. She teaches at DOCH - University employs text and photography, possibly beyond their conven- of Dance & Circus, Stockholm and at ALBA, Beirut. She tional form(s).
manages Mansion, a cultural space co-founded with artist and Ünsal participated in the 2014-2015 Homeworks Space Pro- architect Ghassan Maasri in Beirut and is also a co-founding gram at Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. She has participated in artist member of rodéo, an interdisciplinary francophone magazine residencies at the Delfina Foundation (UK) and the Banff for academic and artistic research. Centre (Canada). She is the founding editor of the artist-driv-en online publishing initiative
Beirut Art CenterJisr El Wati, Off Corniche an Nahr. Building 13, Street 97, Zone 66 Adlieh. Beirut, Lebanon. [email protected] +961 (0) 1 397 018 Tuesdays to Fridays, 12pm to 8pmSaturdays and Sundays, 11 am to 6 pm


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