Beirut exhibition: "In the Middle of the Middle"


Beirut exhibition:

Catherine David’s curatorial work has been widely recognized around the art world. She has been the curator of many important European art institutions like the National Museum of Modern Art, Centre Georges Pompidou, and the National Gallery of Jeu de Paume in Paris and director of the Witte de With centre for contemporary art in Rotterdam. She made headlines in the international art scene with her original approach when she was the artistic director of Documenta X in Kassel (1997). David is also one of the first curators to take an interest in the art of the Middle East and Arab world at large. Since 1998 she has been in charge of the “Contemporary Arab representations” project and made a huge difference in exposing the artists of this region to the global art scene through exhibitions, seminars and publications, and especially when she was co-curator of the Venice Biennale in 2003 and endorsed the participation of Arab artists. She is currently chief curator at the Direction des Musées de France (French Museum Board) and artistic director of the next Lyon Biennale (2009).

Catherine David has invited for this exhibition 12 artists coming from multi-national and cultural backgrounds in the Middle East. The artists use different media, ranging from painting, photography and video to installation, to portray and confront in many different ways the realities of their environment. They are also referring to heterogeneous formal paradigms according to the different cultural and formal genealogies they went through.

The artists participating in this show are Jawad Al Malhi, Yasser Alwan, Ayman Baalbaki, Anna Boghiguian, Rami Farah,, Joude Gorani, Wafa Hourani, Simon Kabboush, Waël Noureddine, Hani Rashed, Walid Sadek and Akram Zaatari.

Jawad Al Malhi (*1969 Jerusalem / Lives in Shofat refugee camp, Jerusalem)
Jawad Al Malhi works with different media such as painting, installation and video. His very sensitive exploration of self and identity shows his talent as a keen observer of the human condition. He had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Palestine, Jordan, Japan, Europe and the US. He co-founded the Open Studio Palestine project that runs art workshops for children.

Yasser Alwan (*1964 Nigeria / Lives in Cairo)
Yasser Alwan has lived in Switzerland and Lebanon and studied photography in America. Evocative and intimate, his portraits of people working or passing by the streets of Cairo are inscribed in the long tradition of documentary photography. His photographs have been exhibited in Cairo, New York, Frankfurt, San Francisco, London and Canterbury.

Ayman Baalbaki (*1975 Lebanon / Lives in Beirut)
In his paintings and installations Ayman Baalbaki focuses on the representation of conflict and war in Lebanon. He received several prices amongst others the first price “cm3” from Cité International Universitaire de Paris. He had numerous solo and group exhibitions in Lebanon, France, Jordan and Argentina.

Anna Boghiguian (*1946 Cairo, Egypt / Lives in Cairo)
Anna Boghiguian graduated from the American University in Cairo in economics and political science in 1969, and then studied art in Egypt and in Canada. In her paintings and drawings she is addressing the extreme velocity of Cairo City and the way past and present coexist in a very singular way. She has held many exhibitions in Egypt, Yemen, France, Greece, and Canada, and has illustrated many books.

Rami Farah (*1980 Syria / Lives in Damascus)
Rami Farah is a performer, actor and video artist. He currently studies mime at the Conservatory of Damascus. “Silence” is his first documentary film.

Joude Gorani (*1980 Syria / Lives in Damascus)
Joude Gorani graduated from the FEMIS in 2005 with a degree in cinematography. In “Before Vanishing”, her graduation film, she travels from the beginning to the end of the Barada River that crosses Damascus. Often deemed iconic of nature's wondrous beauty, she shows how the Barada River has suffered from exploitation, neglect, pollution and unplanned urbanization. The film also uncovers the transformation of the river's social life and provides an intelligent measure of the distance between ideology and reality in contemporary Syria.

Wafa Hourani (*1979 Hebron / Lives in Ramallah)
Wafa Hourani studied at the Ecole d’Art et de Cinéma of Tunis (1998-2001), and has made several videos in his home city of Ramallah. Along with other means of artistic expression, he uses photography either as such or in the form of collage to produce composite images or environments. Qalandia 2047” offers a very detailed scale model of how the artist visualizes everyday life in a Palestinian camp adjacent to the most important checkpoint that controls access to Ramallah in 2047 (that is, one hundred years after the camp’s residents were evicted from their homes following the division of Palestine in 1947). This is an image with lots of humour, although not without a certain bitterness, where beautiful cars move around on a backdrop of large mirror panels hanging on the separation wall just to give an illusion of space to those cooped up in there, in constant expectation of a change.

Simon Kabboush (*1985 Lattakia, Syria Lives in Damascus)
Simon Kabboush graduated with honors from the Damascus University, College of Fine Arts in 2006. His painting is engaged with the possible representations of contemporary urban life in his city of Damascus.

Waël Noureddine (*1978 Lebanon / Lives in Paris)
Waël Noureddine is a writer, a journalist and a poet. His films depict, in a literary and critical way, real situations. They try to grasp the remains, the physical and mental scars from the war in the Middle East, while resisting to subjugation and resignation. Some of his acclaimed films include " Chez Nous" (2002), " Ca sera Beau (from Beirut with Love)" (2005), and " July Trip" ( 2006) ( VF). He just completed " A film far beyond a god".

Hani Rashed (*1975 Cairo / Lives in Cairo)
Hani Rashed is an autodidact. While working at Nile TV, he started to draw and met Mohamed Abla with whom he studied for several years. In his drawings, monotypes and collages he has a satirical approach to human life.

Walid Sadek (*1966 Lebanon / Lives in Beirut)
Walid Sadik is an artist and writer. He is currently assistant professor at the Department of Architecture and Design at the American University of Beirut.

Akram Zaatari (*1966 Lebanon / Lives in Beirut)
Akram Zaatari is a video artist and curator. Author of more than 30 videos and video installations, Zaatari has been exploring issues, like media, resistance and religion, pertinent to Lebanese postwar condition such as in his documentary "All is Well on the Border" (1997), the circulation and production of images in the context of a geographical division of the Middle East, such as in his feature length “This Day” (2003) and “In This House” (2005), and representations of male sexuality in "Crazy of you" (1997) and "How I love you" (2001).

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