Initiated by The Museum of Modern Art in 1971 as a platform for new and experimental art, the renowned Elaine Dannheisser Projects series returns in 2015 at both MoMA and MoMA PS1, providing a forum for the most urgent international voices in contemporary art.
Projects101 features the US premiere of Riding on a Cloud, a live performance created by the Berlin-based Lebanese artist, actor, and theater director Rabih Mroué. His work, which merges visual art, performance, and theater, eludes simple disciplinary categories. Drawing from a wide range of influences, he has explored different genealogies of performance, from Brechtian critical theater to contemporary performance art. Despite the diversity of his practice, his lecture-performances are a key format across his oeuvre.
For Projects 101, Mroué presents the performance Riding on a Cloud, based on his brother Yasser Mroué’s personal experiences in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War. As a young man during the war, Yasser suffered a head injury that resulted in aphasia, a condition that rendered him unable to recognize friends and acquaintances in photographs or other visual representations. Because he was left with this “problem of representation,” Yasser’s doctor advised that he videotape and photograph his surroundings in an effort to retain an understanding of images and, ultimately, reality. Performed by Yasser himself, Riding on a Cloud combines prerecorded video and spoken word in a parafictional meditation on the relationship between lived experience and representation. This poetic mixture of fact and fiction dissects biography, questions our relationship to images, and interrogates the space between political reality and memory.
Along with Walid Raad and Akram Zaatari, Mroué is part of a larger group of artists active in Beirut since the end of the Lebanese Civil War, in 1990, and the effects of that era’s political strife infuse their work. Mroué uses found documents, video footage, photographs, and objects to reconstruct certain events, employing a narrative of memory and forgetting to create intentional slippages in meaning, and compromising the authority of the archival evidence. This strategy suggests that there are an infinite number of “truths,” and limitless angles from which to consider the same event.
Currently based in Berlin, Rabih Mroué studied theater at the Lebanese University in Beirut, where he met Lina Saneh, his wife and most frequent collaborator. He has participated in numerous festivals and exhibitions internationally, including the 11th International Istanbul Biennial, Documenta 13, the 2009 Sharjah Biennial, and the 2006 Biennale of Sydney. His work The Fall of a Hair: Blow Ups (2012), which investigates the use of cellular phones in documenting the Syrian revolution, is currently on view at MoMA in Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection.
On April 21, Mroué will join writer and translator Omar Berrada for a conversation following the performance.
Projects 101: Rabih Mroué is organized by Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, with Martha Joseph, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art.
Projects 102, which opens in February 2016 at MoMA, will be a new installation by Paris-based multimedia artist Neil Beloufa, organized by Thomas Lax, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, MoMA.
Projects 103, which opens in April 2016 at MoMA PS1, will feature a sculptural ensemble by Berlin-based Georgian artist Thea Djordjadze. It is organized by Paulina Pobocha, Assistant Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, MoMA.
The Elaine Dannheisser Projects series is made possible in part by the Elaine Dannheisser Foundation and The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art.
April 21–22, 2015, 7:30pm
The Museum of Modern Art
Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019