Beirut wants to exist. She too, wants peace. Of Minds, of Nations. She wants to create reasons to stay and to incite fantasy. She wants to invent time. She struggles, and pays rent. She is yearning learning to become a political nursery.
Season Four (19 September–15 December, 2013) follows a line of flight from What Is an Institution? to thinking about learning and schooling, in art and in language. How can we learn to construct, not instruct? Can the dominant be untaught? How do we challenge indoctrination? We perceive and we listen, we see before we name things, before we speak, read, and write. We are transformed by the very objects we are trying to possess and are affected by the objects we are trying to learn (from). The season features two exhibitions, an Imaginary School Program, and projects in other cities.
Writing with the other hand is imagining
It is 1992. An artist that speaks no English is no artist (Mladen Stilinovi?). This is a poetic statement (Luis Camnitzer). The group exhibition (19 September–27 October) comprises three studies, a banner and a series of assignments. A first study performs and inspires alternatives to the authority of utterance and narrative (Dina Danish, Katarina Zdjelar, Parallel Lines). A second study sounds a Lyrebird’s struggle in expressing the nature of space in writing (Malak Helmy), and challenges the demand to articulate art practice through language (Redmond Entwistle). Can the absence of references liberate us from the institutions of language and governance? A third study rules out the pyramids. Children draw up an alternative (Luis Camnitzer) and in a desert island they are left to invent a new form of state (Adelita Husni-Bey).
In the dissonant state of Egypt both politically and sonically, Lawrence Abu Hamdan investigates the sonic constitution of its capital. Through an acoustic-led urban analysis of the city, Abu Hamdan proposes new ways of perceiving its sound. Speaker-System (7 November-15 December) is a trilogy of installations, each centering on a single tape which bears witness to the past acoustic life of the metropolis. The once-popular, highly political Islamic cassette sermon (now extinct, giving way to digital distribution) is overdubbed and used as a medium to explore the relationship between listening, obedience and today’s Islamic revival/conflict. Blown-up scans of the cassette surfaces become magnetic maps and cartographic registrations of the palimpsest of Cairo’s audio urbanity. Speaker-System is the first project in the Beirut Collaborative Commissions series. It is commissioned by Beirut in collaboration with the Van Abbemuseum as members of the Museum as Hub.
The Imaginary School Program
Throughout this season, Beirut will host a series of talks, seminars and workshops led by visiting artists. Ashok Sukumaran from CAMP (26-30 September) addresses the possibility of emergent forms when people and structures come together. A Conversation Between Art Forms and Organizational Forms draws on experiences from within an organization that has sought to do art in new ways. Between September and October, artists Duto Hardono and Venzha Christ visit Beirut as part of the Biennale Jogja XII residency exchange program. In October, Adelita Husni-Bey looks at the language and methods of schooling and collective learning in Egypt. In November, Snejanka Mihaylova studies the Nag Hammadi manuscripts as part of Inner Stage, a project commissioned by If I Can’t Dance.
Beirut in Print
This fall, Beirut will launch its first set of publications. Notes on the Magic of the State is co-edited by Silvia Sgualdini and Beirut. The IT that we do is edited in-house and follows our ongoing research with the institutional platform APRIL, shared with Kunsthalle Lissabon, FormContent, CCA Derry~Londonderry and Art in General.
Beirut in Other Cities
At the Festival steirischer herbst in Graz, Beirut presents An Exhibition and Other True Stories (22 September-17 November) among other Unexpected Encounters at Camera Austria, featuring contributions by artists Malak Helmy (with Simeon Roos), Hassan Khan and Jasmina Metwaly, a film program on violence without an author, and a one-off newsprint by Mada Masr, a Cairo-based news office born out of crisis and inevitability. Furthermore, the Beirut Curatorial Office will participate in the festival conference and hold the three-day workshop (2–4 October) An Institution as Fiction: What is an Institution?
In Indonesia, the Biennale Jogja XII opens, co-curated by Sarah Rifky and co-organized with Beirut. The exhibition explores issues of mobility and migration of labour, language and form, includes an artist-in-residence exchange between UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt and Indonesia, film and publication series.
In Indonesia, Biennale Jogja XII (16 November 2013–6 January 2014) is co-curated by Sarah Rifky and Agung Hujatnika and co-organized with Beirut. The exhibition explores issues of mobility and migration of labour, language and form, includes an artist-in-residence exchange between UAE, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt and Indonesia, film and publication series.