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Photo by Greg Demarque

Ten Years Later: AFAC Celebrates its 10th Anniversary with more than 40 Artists from 15 Arab Countries

26 Oct, 2017 

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture- AFAC celebrates its 10th anniversary with a two-week long program in Beit Beirut and Metropolis Empire Sofil from 7 to 25 November 2017. The program comprises an exhibition of documentary photography, sound and video installations, dance and music performance, talks, and film screenings.

 

“The exhibition is not only a celebration of ten years of AFAC; it is also and essentially a celebration of creativity, innovation, boldness, risk-taking, questioning, critical thinking, and dialogue that are the main pillars of the works of art we support; it is a celebration of fresh narratives or counter-narratives that are coming out of the region through the works of visual and performing artists, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, writers and poets,” says Rima Mismar, Executive Director of AFAC.

 

Hani Kalouti, Chairman and CIO of HBK, the main supporter of the event and exhibition, commented: "We share with AFAC its vision regarding the importance of entrepreneurial and philanthropic actions in the Arab region and we value the abundant creativity and innovation embodied by the arts and culture sector. The art work being produced has proved able to shed new light on neglected topics and provide interesting perspectives that go beyond the stereotypical and reductionist representations that dominate mainstream media reporting on this region. In this sense, this is an inspiration to the investment management industry to embrace a creative state of mind and to explore new realms that can be of interest to its clients.”

 

Curated by Rasha Salti and designed by Studio Safar, the two-week exhibition (November 10-25 at Beit Beirut) borrows its title, “How to Tell When the Rebels Have Won”,  from an essay by late Pakistani scholar, intellectual and militant, Eqbal Ahmad, published in 1965 in The Nation, the canonical US left-leaning establishment magazine that celebrated very recently 150 years of circulation. An intentionally provocative curatorial position that takes cues from Ahmad’s seminal essay, as well from late American writer James Baldwin’s observations on the role of art and of the artist in times of insurgency, turbulence and blithe injustice, and from African theorist Achille Mbembe’s magisterial work On the Postcolony, that will use the repository of AFAC grantee projects to contemplate how contemporary Arab artists have engaged questions of insurgent representations and counter-hegemonic languages, memory and responsibility, and empathy. “What remains of the promise of life when the enemy is no longer the colonist in a strict sense, but the “brother”?”, asked Mbembe, and what of the “pain of others”? These questions, among others, will thread the event’s program and echo in the interiors of the recently restored war-etched Beit Beirut, the architectural incarnation of an allegory of Lebanon’s Civil War, and perhaps the region’s embattled contemporary reality.

 

The exhibition showcases the works of more than 40 artists from 15 Arab countries whose projects were supported by AFAC. It brings together photographs by the Arab Documentary Photography Program grantees Amira Al-Sharif, Eman Helal, Omar Imam, Heba Khalifa, Arwa Alneami, Mehdy Mariouch, Mostafa Bassim, Ahmad Moussa, Zied Ben Romdhane, Nadia Bseiso, Reem Falaknaz, Hicham Gardaf, Zara Samiry, Mustapha Saeed, Muhammad Salah, Roi Saade, Faisal Al Fouzan, Iman Al Dabbagh, Hamada Elrasam and Eyad Abou Kasem. Five installations will be on exhibit: Open Channel: A Public Installation for Listening, an audio-architectural installation by Ahmad Al Khoja; Perpetuum Mobile, a sound installation by Cynthia Zaven; Purple, Bodies in Translation - Part II of 'A Yellow Memory from the Yellow Age', a video installation by Joe Namy; a presentation of Mazen Kerbaj’s research in progress around his forthcoming project The Arabic Marseillaise. Lebanese architect and preservation activist Mona Hallak, whose engagement in the campaign to preserve the Barakat Building (now Beit Beirut) and its transformation into a cultural landmark has been admirable, has been invited to launch a project around resurrecting the memory of Studio Mario, a photography studio once housed in the building. In displaying some of the photography studio’s found archives (negatives, prints and documents) and photos, the project aims to activate the unrecorded memory of the neighborhood in the decades when the studio was operational, through collecting personal testimonies of people. This will be the first step in the project, presented in collaboration with the Arab Image Foundation and relying on their expertise in the preservation of the photographic heritage in the Arab world. Additionally, a looped segment from Tala Hadid’s The Narrow Frame of Midnight and a drawing from Tarek Abbar’s series Shuttle Diplomacy will be on display. The program will also host three performances of the AFAC commissioned collaboration between musician Sharif Sehnaoui and contemporary dancer Taoufiq Izeddiou.

 

Two talks are scheduled during the two-week celebration including: a Curator Talk by Rasha Salti and an Artist Talk by Mona Hallak.

 

The program also includes seven film screenings scheduled from 7 to 12 November in collaboration with Metropolis Empire Sofil: Ouroboros by Basma Alsharif, Those From the Shore by Tamara Stepanyan, Dream Fragments by Bahia BenCheikh El-Fegoun, Checks & Balances by Malek Bensmail, Children of Beirut by Sarah Srage, Samt by Chadi Aoun and Ismyrna by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige.

 

The exhibition is also generously supported by the Boghossian FoundationPrince Claus FundMiddle East Airlines and LBCI as media partner.

 

Discover the full program here

 

Important Dates

November 5: Exhibition Opening and Reception at Beit Beirut (by invitation only)

November 7-12: Film Screenings at Metropolis

November 10-25: Exhibition open to the public at Beit Beirut

 

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