Christine Tohme is the founding director of Ashkal Alwan, the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, established in 1993. Tohmé was the recipient of a Prince Claus Award in 2006, given in recognition of her achievements in supporting local multidisciplinary art production and art criticism, as well as the 2015 CCS Bard Audrey Irmas Award for Curatorial Excellence. She is on the boards of Marsa (Beirut), a sexual health center providing specialized medical services for at-risk youth and marginalized communities, and SAHA (Istanbul), an association supporting contemporary art from Turkey. Tohmé was recently appointed curator of the Sharjah Biennale 13.
I now mean by Elements, as those Chymists that speak plainest do by their Principles, certain Primitive and Simple, or perfectly unmingled bodies; which not being made of any other bodies, or of one another, are the Ingredients of all those call'd perfectly mixt Bodies are immediately compounded, and into which they are ultimately resolved.*
*from R. Boyle, Chymico - Physical Doubts & Paradoxes (1661)
With: Lawrence Abu Hamdan - Abbas Akhavan - Ahmed Badry - Inci Eviner - Omar Fakhoury - Saba Innab - Khalil Rabah - Stéphanie Saadé - Tamara Al Samerraei - Ali Taptik.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a visual artist and audio investigator with a background in DIY music. He has had solo presentations at Kunsthalle St Gallen, Beirut in Cairo, Casco Utrecht, and The Showroom in London. He was selected as the Armory Show Commissioned Artist for 2015. Additionally, his works have been exhibited and performed at venues such as The New Museum, Van AbbeMuseum, The Shanghai Biennial (2014), The Whitechapel Gallery, MACBA, Tate Modern, M HKA, and The Taipei Biennial (2012). In 2013, Abu Hamdan’s audio documentary, The Freedom of Speech Itself, was submitted as evidence to the UK asylum tribunal where he was called to testify as an expert witness. He continues to make sonic analyses for legal investigations and advocacy campaigns - most recently his audio analysis was a prominent part of Defense for Children International's No More Forgotten Lives campaign.
Abbas Akhavan’s practice ranges from site-specific ephemeral installations to drawing, video, sculpture, and performance. The trajectory of his research has been deeply influenced by the specificity of the sites in which he works: the architecture that houses them, the economies that surround them, and the people that frequent them. The domestic sphere, a forked space between hospitality and hostility, has been an ongoing area of inquiry in his practice. Recent works have shifted focus, wandering onto spaces just outside the home – the garden, the backyard, and other domesticated landscapes. Akhavan is the recipient of Kunstpreis Berlin (2012), the Abraaj Group Art Prize (2014), and is currently shortlisted for the Sobey Award (2015).
Ahmed Badry lives and works in Egypt. His work spans across different media. Badry completed his BA in art education at Helwan University, Cairo in 2003. Since 2000, He has had several solo and group shows in Egypt, Korea, Switzerland, Germany, and Algeria. Badry has an upcoming show as part of the 13th International Cairo Biennale (2016).
Inci Eviner is an artist whose work is comprised of multi-layered pieces that always originate from her drawings. Dealing with gender, political and poetic space, Eviner aims to transform art into a “poetic gesture” that gives way to the imagination. Eviner has participated in numerous biennials in Istanbul, Venice, Taiwan, Thessaloniki, Shanghai, and Busan. Her works have been exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille, among others. Eviner has had solo exhibitions at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MAC/VAL Vitry-sur-Seine, and The Drawing Center, New York.
Omar Fakhoury is a multidisciplinary visual artist. He holds a BA in painting and drawing from the Lebanese University and an MFA from Paris I - Sorbonne. He is currently a lecturer at the Lebanese University. Fakhoury’s work has been exhibited in Lebanon, France, Turkey, Bahrain, England, Cyprus, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the United States among others.
Saba Innab is a Palestinian architect, urban researcher, and artist practicing out of Amman and Beirut. Through painting, mapping, models, and architectural practice, Innab’s work explores the suspended states between temporariness and permanence and is concerned with the variable notions of dwelling, building, and language in architecture. She was a fellow at Ashkal Alwan’s Home Workspace Program (2011-2012). She has participated in various exhibitions in Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jeddah, Aarau, and Warsaw. In 2014, she received the visiting research fellowship initiated by Studio x Amman lab - Columbia GSAAP.
Khalil Rabah is an artist, and has been the artistic director of the Riwaq Biennale in Ramallah, Palestine, since 2005. Rabah’s works include the United States of Palestine Things (2007-2011); the ongoing projects The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind (2003) and Art Exhibition (2010); and most recently, Scale Models Area C. His publications include 50320 Names, Volume, and the 3rd Riwaq Biennale, A Biennale. His recent solo exhibitions include Art Exhibition, Ready Made Representations, Sfeir Semler, Hamburg (2012); Review, Beirut Art Center (2012); Pages 7, 8, 9, e-flux, New York (2013) and Scale Models, Kunsthaus, Hamburg (2015). Rabah has also contributed to the biennials in Sao Paulo, Sydney, Gwangju, Istanbul, Liverpool, Sharjah, Kochi Muziris, Thessaloniki, and Venice.
Stéphanie Saadé (Lebanon, 1983) takes as a point of departure the moment when one becomes estranged from his/her surroundings. She explores the shape of distance, and makes it visible. A process of Artificial Nostalgia is developed, through which strange locations, familiar to the artist, are assembled. Faraway horizons are reactivated, to exist in the present. The nature of links is questioned, their persistence or their ephemerality. Saadé was an artist in residence at Van Eyck, Maastricht (2014-2015), and the Cité des Arts, Paris (2015). Her work has been exhibited recently at M HKA, Antwerp; Marres, Maastricht; La Conservera, Murcia; Beirut Art Center, Beirut. It will be part of upcoming group shows at La Traverse, Centre Contemporain d’Alfortville, France (2015), and Museum Schloss Moyland, Germany (2016).
Tamara al Samerraei lives and works in Beirut. She received a BA in fine arts from the Lebanese American University in Beirut in 2002 and completed the inaugural year of the Home Workspace Program at Ashkal Alwan (2011-2012). Her solo exhibitions include Make Room For Me, Gypsum Gallery, Cairo (2014); Fleeting Fences (2011) and Something White (2008), Agial Art Gallery, Beirut. She has participated in several group exhibitions including I Love Beirut by Artcourt Video, Palais de L’archeveche, Arles (2013); All About Beirut, White Box, Munich (2010); Exposure, Beirut Art Center, Beirut (2009); Radius of Art project, Fladernbunker, Kiel (2008); Dar Al Funoon, Kuwait (2007). Most recently al Samerraei completed a nine-month residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris (2014).
Ali Taptık is an artist and PhD Candidate in architectural design at Istanbul Technical University. Representation of urban landscape and architecture, the relationship between the individual and the city, and psychogeography are among the themes and subjects that he explores. In addition to working with institutions on documenting an ever-changing Istanbul, Taptık has published several books including Kaza ve Kader (Filigranes Editions, 2009), Depicting Istanbul (Akin Nalca, 2010), There are no Failed Experiments (Atelier de Visu, 2012), and Nothing Surprising (Marraine Ginette, 2015). Taptık is one of the founders of Bandrolsüz collective, for the distribution of independent artists’ books.
A Convention of Tiny Movements is the most recent articulation of Abu Hamdan’s project that investigates the coming future of surveillance. His installation focuses on experiments currently being conducted at MIT where a group of computer scientists have discovered that they can turn everyday objects - a packet of chips, a glass of water, a potted plant, and even a box of tissues- into microphones. This collection of work proposes a new series of ways to approach, inhabit, and conceive of the new aural world that these emerging technologies are forging.
Variations on a Garden is an installation forming part of an ongoing series of works exploring the idea of gardens. This installation uses bed sheets and a variety of other fabrics and patterns as architectural layers, as laundry, as vernacular taste and other forms of spaces that shift between public and private. Badry’s sculptures are proposals for objects that recover their usefulness as much as possible. However, these objects are not made to be used. Instead they operate as a pair of spectacles to frame social and political issues. Through these spectacles Badry questions the ability of the global system, corporatization, objects and instruments of daily life to become a paradigm of normalization.
Parliament is staged in a “camp” within the architectural plan of the EU Parliament. The video includes materialized broken allegories of Europe: muses who have lost their way, animal-women, silver men, betrayers, charlatans, libertines, lost girls, animal-citizens as well as those who have committed suicide, eaten themselves, been taken out of the sea and those who dig the earth with their teeth, take their own bodies hostage, and other uncanny figures who are plotting their own games in the grey area between exclusion and inclusion.
“The space is one of the places where power is affirmed and exercised, and, without doubt, in the most subtle form, that of symbolic violence as unnoticed violence.” - P. Bourdieu
This work is part of an ongoing project on how spatial dynamics of demarcation and symbolic dominance play out through political monuments. The sculpture is a pedestal armed with Naphthalene skin.
Taking the Palestinian refuge, exile and migration as its point of departure, this project rethinks dwelling and building in temporariness. It is a process of collecting temporariness as a series of architectural typologies and know-hows. Reclaimed from memory and experience, these spaces of temporariness are then recreated and materialized, becoming a topographic realm between the past and the present; forming an archeological site, or a record inscribed in the architecture of everyday life. The 1980s in Kuwait was reclaimed through a residential building. By freezing the visual memory of a space and deconstructing it, another layer is revealed. From this process regional references, alienation and attempts to unravel the unknown emerge in the context of processes of modernity - modernization. This space becomes not only an extension of Palestinian refuge, but also part of the de-territorialization of the working class and migrant workers.
The 1994 Interim Agreements between Israel and the PLO divided the West Bank into three categories: Area A, about 18% of the land in the West Bank, including all Palestinian cities and most of the Palestinian population of the West Bank; the Palestinian Authority (PA) was endowed with most governmental powers for this area. Area B, approximately 22% of the West Bank and encompassing large rural areas; Israel retained security control of the area and transferred control of civil matters to the PA. Area C covering 60% of the West Bank; containing 6543 scale models installed throughout 180 Palestinian villages and communities. Israel has retained almost complete control of this area, including with regard to security matters and all land-related civil matters. The PA is responsible for providing education and medical services to the Palestinian population in Area C. Nevertheless, construction and maintenance of the infrastructure necessary for these services remains in Israel’s hands.
In A Map of Good Memories, the artist remembered twenty good memories, related to her life in Lebanon, dating from her childhood to the present time. She retraced these trajectories of going to see beloved people and going to beloved places, and assembled them, respecting their scale and orientation, until they formed a closed shape. Relating to different moments of the past, and to different geographical locations, they enclose an intimate, sentimental territory, drawing the outlines of a geographical self-portrait. A Map of Good Memories is made of the purest gold, applied directly onto the floor. Despite its immutability, this precious metal is altered by the steps of the visitors. As they travel on it, it disappears under their feet.
Since the last time we met, you asked me to stop making a scene, saying that it was becoming too much to bare. This kept coming back to me from time to time, I was more confused by the request because I wasn't sure whether you meant a love scene or a crime scene. I wasn't aware of it that much back then, but the feeling was there. Every time we were together something was taking over our emotions. First I thought that maybe all of this tension was filling the space and that by now our souls must have already haunted the places where we lingered, but I was wrong and it all made sense in dreams, because in reality those places actually haunted us and tasked us. The plant in the corridor, the bed, the rug, the animal fur, the pot, the knife and that window that opened to that shore, they were all instrumental to our repetition and scenes. Those were the accessories of our possession.
A century ago, Istanbul’s literary circles used to gather in the mansion of the poet Madame Nigar Osmanpaşazade. In the 1970’s, textile manufacturers and wholesalers began to move to Osmanbey because the Sultanhamam region lacked the appropriate spaces. “At that time it was somewhat stylish to have ‘Osmanbey’ written on the label of your garment,” explains the manufacturer. On an autumn day in 1988, Dr. Nazmiye Taptik takes her grandson to her apartment in Nişantaşı which she hasn’t visited for a while, not since her husband passed away. "I remember playing on the cast stone floor. In 1989 when my grandmother passed away, my father rented the house to an exporter who used it as storage space. Then later when we wanted to restore it, they wouldn’t let go of the apartment for years. Eventually the manufacturer/exporter finally moved out of the apartment, leaving it in ruins. Today I am using this space as my house and my office."
Aligning detail photographs, façade drawings, brand names and found objects, On Grooming and Clothing is the first phase of an in-depth analysis of the architectural, economic and social aspects of Osmanbey, which seeks to map the transformation of the district over the decades as incited by the textile industry.