Margaux Portron, Research and Communications Associate, Artraker.
Yesterday I visited the exhibition “I Spy with my little eye. A new generation of Beirut artists”, at the Mosaic Rooms, in London. It ends tomorrow, so if you can make the time, go and see it.
“I Spy” struck me for two reasons.
The first is the content of the exhibition. As discussed in last week’s post with Yahya from P21 Gallery, we expect artworks from warzones or postconflict zones to talk about war. This is the opposite here.
Photo of the Mosaic Rooms with three different artworks.
Source: Margaux Portron
Here you can see a lamp hanging from a chandelier. The artwork by Stéphanie Saadé is part of a series called Re-enactment LB /Chandelier, “a scenario seen in a traditional Beiruti house – a lamp used only as a support for another lamp”.
The phone is part of the installation Let it ring, by Charbel-joseph H. Boutros, where three phones were dialled – the three phones are displayed throughout the Mosaic Rooms. “the installation/performance employs disappearance as a mode of visual suggestion, conveying historical and intimate meanings, finding poetic lines that extend beyond the realm of existing realities”.
The series of photographs by Georges Awde depict Syrian boys living in Lebanon, certainly, but they’re more about coming of age for boys than about fleeing a warzone:
For some curatorial reason, however, the photographs were hung quite low on the wall, and because they were displayed in the halls I couldn’t really take a step back (literally), to look at them. It is a pity because these are really powerful pictures (as the comments left in the gallery book also suggest).
Which brings me to the form of the exhibition.
I liked that there was no info on the artworks on the walls: you had to take a brochure and find the artist in there. There are so many artworks there that I feel like info on the wall would have disrupted their message. Instead, the pieces work with the space without the museographic codes.
For instance, this is not an artwork:
The Reeds, by Lara Tabet (in collaboration with Michelle Daher)
Source: Margaux Portron
The Reeds corresponds to the photos, it is not the whole installation. I absolutely loved this set up, because it engaged me physically with the artworks: you have to dig into the box, the photos will not stay in the same order, etc. But even more so, because it comprises “photographic shots of a sexual cruising ground tucked away ine one Beirut’s iconic waterfronts”. Very graphic images indeed. This set-up transforms us from spectators to actors – you do not simply walk past.
The Mosaic Rooms
Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-6pm
A.M. Qattan Foundation
Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road
London SW5 0SW
http://mosaicrooms.org/ | https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mosaic-Rooms/125931740810008 | Twitter @themosaicrooms | https://instagram.com/themosaicrooms/
T. 020 7370 9990
Nearest tube: Earl’s Court