Out Of Beirut

Cinematic accompaniment to Out of Beirut exhibition at Modern Art Oxford

June 25, 2006
The communities and architecture of the Lebanese capital provide inspiration for the work of 18 contemporary artists in an exhibition that tells the story of this historically divided city. Having experienced occupation and civil war from 1975 to 1991, religious divisions are evident, with Lebanese Christians living mostly in East Beirut and Sunni Muslims in West Beirut, creating an unofficial boundary (the 'green line'). By presenting work devised from 1998 to the present the exhibition follows the progress of Beirut's reconstruction, which has been taking place since 1991. High rise buildings are erected next to tenement slums in a haphazard style as seen in Ali Cherri's video film Un Cercle autour du Soleil, which presents the city from a distance giving the architecture an abstract quality.

Ethnic divisions of the city are graphically portrayed in the video, Distracted Bullets. Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige record gunshots in the night from the vantagepoint of a hillside as the distinct Beiruti communities celebrate their religious festivals by releasing firearms at different times. The exhibition is largely made up of video film and photography, which lends a documentary style to the artists' ideas and heightens their impact. This is particularly true in Ziad Abillama's film of the mass public demonstrations following the assassination of Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, entitled Pourquoi n'Arrêtes-tu pas de Mourir?).

Once regarded as the 'Paris of the Middle East', the installation 'Wonder Beirut' offers you the chance to send a postcard showing a defaced image of Abdallah Farah's original tourist shots of Beirut, the designer holiday destination of the late sixties. As you take the steps out of the exhibition the 'green line' is depicted under your feet in the piece 'In Transit' devised by the anonymous collective 'Heartland'. The 'green line' marks the locations of checkpoints where so many disappearances occurred during the fighting and the map takes on a new meaning when viewed out of Beirut. Lamia Joreige travels through the districts on this map asking people if they know of anyone who was kidnapped here. Their responses are at once moving, distressing and compelling and are filmed in the Artist's video 'Here and Perhaps Elsewhere'.
Selected by Christine Tohme, Beirut-based curator and Director of the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts, Ashkal Alwan, Beirut. Screenings are FREE however, as places are limited, booking is recommended. Call 01865 813800.

Programme 1,2,3 Sunday 18 June 1 - 5pm
See the complete Out of Beirut Programme in one afternoon.

Programme 1 Wednesday 28 June 6pm
The Lamentations Series: The Ninth Night and Day, 2005, Jalal Toufic, 60mins.

Programme 2 Wednesday 5 July 6pm
Still Life, 1997, Harun Farocki, 56 mins.

Programme 3 Wednesday 12 July 6pm
Ça sera beau: From Beirut with Love, 2005, Wael Noureddine, 30 mins.
Jibraltar, Ghassan Halwani, 2005, 15 mins.
Kardesler, 2003, Deniz Buga, 7 mins.
Nine Years Later, 2004, Dima El-Horr, 6 mins.
Chic Point, 2003, Sharif Waked, 7 mins.

Programme 1,2,3 Sunday 9 July 1 – 5pm
See the complete Out of Beirut Programme in one afternoon.
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