Exhibitions at the AUB Byblos Bank Art Gallery

UPCOMING EXHIBITION: Contemporary Artistic Revolutions: An Institutional Perspective

The opening of the exhibition will be held at the AUB Byblos Bank Art Gallery on February 28, 2017 at 6:00 pm; opening speech at 6:30 pm.

A conference will follow on March 1 + 2, 2017; see here for details about both events and the exhibition handout.

Excerpt from Curatorial Statement

Over the past years art historians, critics, artists and philosophers have more frequently than ever posed the question of what is, or was, contemporary art. The question has been most urgently posed in a recent series of books by Western academic publishers, special issues of art periodicals, or conference proceedings organized by leading art institutions. The “contemporary,” “contemporary art,” and “contemporaneity” have been considered from multiple perspectives: as categories of art historical periodization (or resistance and refusal to periodize); as modes of articulation of temporality (or the impossibility of doing so); as manifestations of political, economic and ideological contradictions of late capitalism (or a desire to repress the political); as symptoms of the multiple diseases of globalization and of rising economic inequality (or an affirmative embrace of the “global village” at whatever cost); as part of the lasting Western narrative of “progress,” or more recently of “transition to democracy,” bestowable upon an Other (or as critiqued in the context of local post-colonial or post-socialist histories).

This year AUB Art Galleries joins these debates and brings a different approach and perspective to the theme. First of all, we would like simultaneously to translate recent dialogues surrounding contemporary art into the format of an art exhibition, an academic conference, and a publication; secondly, we are seeking ways to emphasize the problematic of the contemporary by drawing attention to debates over “what is” or “was” contemporary art as they unfolded in “non-Western” parts of the world. For this event – which we have titled: Contemporary Artistic Revolutions: An Institutional Perspective – we invited artists, scholars, and art historians to share with us their research on the emergence of the co-called “contemporary paradigm” within their respective artistic milieux. We are looking into the earliest art events and those forces that locally affirmed the contemporary as a new mode of artistic production.

Octavian Esanu
Curator, AUB Art Galleries

Artists in the Exhibition

Gordana Anđelić-Galić (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Ahmed Badri (Egypt); Amal Bohsali (Lebanon); Alexander Brener (Russia); Delve Institute (Croatia); Arman Grigoryan and The 3rd Floor Movement (Armenia); Abhishek Hazra (India); IRWIN (Slovenia); Želimir Koščević (ex-Yugoslavia); NK (Slovenia); Shady El-Noshokaty (Egypt); Eduardo Paolozzi (UK); Mark Verlan (Moldova); Walid Sadek (Lebanon); Janja Žvegelj (Slovenia)

Participants in the Conference (March 1-2) and Publication

Ivana Bago (Duke University; Delve – Institute for Duration, Location and Variables);
Lucy Bayley (Middlesex University and the Institute of Contemporary Arts); Barbara Borčić (SCCA-Ljubljana); Natasha Gasparian (American University of Beirut); Sabih Ahmed (Asia Art Archive) and Nida Ghouse (Mumbai Art Room); Octavian Eșanu (American University of Beirut); Angela Haratyunyan (American University of Beirut); Tevž Logar and Vladimir Vidmar (Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana, Slovenia); Kristóf Nagy (Artpool Art Research Center – Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest); Dina Aboul Fotouh (Home Workspace Program Ashkal Alwan); Peter Osborne (Kingston University London); Amila Puzić (University “Džemal Bijedić” in Mostar); Miško Šuvaković (Faculty for Media and Communications, Belgrade); Shady El-Noshokaty (Egypt)


PAST EXHIBITION: “The Arab Nude: The Artist As Awakener”

The Arab Nude: The Artist as Awakener examines the way in which artists and intellectualsof the Mandate era engaging in a double struggle against imperialism, Ottoman and European, resorted to an ideal form or pictorial device to concretize their visions of Arab modernity. For them, to be “Arab” was as much a matter of ambiguity and ambition as was the quest to be an artist. In fact, both labels required leaps of imagination over local conditions and imperial plans. What claims for identity, community, and political society were invested in the divesting of Arab bodies of their clothes? Our exhibition documents the debates that met the genre of the Nude in exhibition halls and newspapers. Itsituates artistic practices in relation to ongoing, urgent discussions about the meaning of citizenship, urbanity, and internationalism carried out amid movements for women’s rights, pan-Arabism, and various nationalisms, as well as educational reform, militarization, the scouting movement and nudist colonies. Without espousing the role of awakener for artists, our subtitle foregrounds the social,political or cultural motivations for these artists to embrace and adopt the genre of the Nude in their artistic careers.

PAST EXHIBITIONThe 1990s – Jayce Salloum: كان يا ما كان There Was and There Was Not [redux/fragments]”

Jayce Salloum’s installation كان يا ما كان There Was and There Was Not [redux/fragments] is an opportunity to take a step back and look at the 1990s. The photographs, newspaper clips, scholarly and other texts, books, postcards, Polaroid shots, and videos – which Salloum, a Canadian-born artist of Lebanese parentage, collected, made, or recorded during his time in the Middle East in the late 1980s and early 1990s – compose one large document, which we consider here as a record of the 1990s.

This exhibition is a chance to revisit the early days of an art historical period which we still inhabit. The Lebanese Civil War (1975-1989) has not only been a major point of historical reference but also an art historical threshold. The end of the war marked a radical historical shift, launching not only new economic and political forces and alliances but also artistic idioms, art institutions and a number of Lebanese artists into the orbit of the global art world. The 1990s also opened up a new art historical period known as “Lebanese contemporary art.”

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