Published by Darat al Funun - The Khalid Shoman Foundation, 2018.
For our 30th anniversary, we invited artists from all disciplines to pause and reflect, to re-imagine our world, and to reinvent their narrative, following the challenge set by Mahmoud Darwish in his poem ‘To a Young Poet’:
Truth is black, write over it
with a mirage’s light.
Three consecutive exhibitions held over 2018 each present different encounters between the artists of our time and their place in the world today, together forming a constellation of new narratives and interrogations.
In this second exhibition, Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s five-screen video installation ‘And yet my mask is powerful’ confronts the apocalyptic imaginary and violence that dominates our contemporary moment, asking what happens to people/places/things/materials when a living fabric is destroyed. Young Palestinians wearing copies of neolithic masks visit the sites of their destroyed villages inside occupied Palestine as an avatar for re-thinking the site of wreckage, which emerges not just a place of ruin and trauma but appears full of an unmediated vitality, resisting colonial erasures.
In his new work, Rayyane Tabet brings to light the untold history of salt and sugar production around the Dead Sea through the current economy of its two main components. Jananne Al-Ani’s aerial journey over Jordan shows a landscape bearing traces of natural and man-made activity as well as ancient and contemporary structures, revealing the memory of its past. Taking the building blocks of Darat al Funun’s façades as a starting point, Ammar Khammash looks at how 85 million year old animal bone debris probes history and the passing of time.
Yazan Khalili photographed random cracks that resemble the triangular map of Palestine. Juxtaposed with details of short stories, the cracks appear as a break in the flow of time, as a minor history breaking the mainstream narratives. His second work ‘I, The Artwork’ raises the issue of the right of the artwork itself to boycott. Meanwhile, in Walid Raad’s film ‘I Only Wish That I Could Weep’ an imaginary Lebanese intelligence officer assigned to monitor passers-by on the Corniche in Beirut decides to videotape the sunset instead of his allocated targets. Raed Ibrahim’s new installation questions whether our contemporary moment allows scope for neutrality or depoliticisation.
In a trilogy of films, Jalal Toufic and Graziella Rizkallah Toufic relate three cities to the realms with which they have the most affinity but that cannot be reached by these cities’ most characteristic modes of transportation. Hani Alqamprobes the city of Amman, its identity, and urban scape through a collection of quotidian objects, inviting people to do the same. AnneMarie van Splunter’s film features children from different parts of Amman opening their curtains, offering different views on the city of Amman and its inhabitants, while Fouad ElKhoury's photographic series captures the city as it was about 30 years ago.
Salah Saouli uses the silence of one woman on the subject of her lost world to investigate the effects of displacement on human existence, while Mona Ali Alzghoul’s installation with CGI navigates longing and belonging in a non-physical third space, and Brahim Jawabreh captures the tragedy of Palestinian prisoners by painting their portraits.
Khaled Hourani's "Mural" pays tribute to Mahmoud Darwish. Samia Zaru, the first Jordanian artist to create installations in public spaces in the 1980s, probes cultural heritage and identity through the use of everyday materials, such as rope and straw in her tapestries and woodwork. Ala’ Younis juxtaposes images, artworks, photographs and documents in her ongoing survey of artistic expressions as they affect and effectuate their actuality in history, focusing on the impact of Darat al Funun in the art-making history in the region.
Part of The Lab is dedicated to Arab art knowledge production, including a reading corner with a host of publications. Fellow Amin Alsaden created a matrix exploring the various meanings of the “Arab” in the art world, positioning Darat al Funun within a larger context, by mapping the epistemological terrain constituted by the display, support, study, and exchange of modern and contemporary Arab art over the last thirty years.
Participating artists in the July-October exhibition:
Ala' Younis (Jordan), Ammar Khammash (Jordan), AnneMarie van Splunter (The Netherlands), Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme (Palestine), Brahim Jawabreh (Palestine), Hani Alqam (Jordan), Jalal Toufic (Iraq) and Graziella Rizkallah Toufic (Lebanon), Jananne Al-Ani (Iraq/UK), Mona Ali Alzghoul (Jordan/Canada), Salah Saouli (Lebanon), Samia Zaru (Jordan), Raed Ibrahim (Jordan), Rayyane Tabet (Lebanon), Yazan Khalili (Palestine), as well from The Khalid Shoman Collection: Fouad ElKhoury (Lebanon), Khaled Hourani (Palestine), and Walid Raad (Lebanon).
In addition, for this second chapter in our celebrations, the Beit al Beiruti features panels giving an overview of the past 30 years of exhibitions and events, and shows works in remembrance of 25 artists from The Khalid Shoman Collection: Abderrazak Sahli, Adnan al Sharif, Ahmad Nawash, Ali Jabri, Ali Maher, Alia Amoura, Amal Kenawy, Aziz Amoura, Hassan Hourani, Fahrelnissa Zeid, Farid Belkahia, Fateh al Moudarres, Ismail Fatah, Ismail Shammout, Issam al Said, Jumana el Husseini, Mahmoud Taha, Marwan, Mohamed Kacimi, Nabila Hilmi, Nuha al Radi, Paul Guiragossian, Rafa’ al Nasiri, Shaker Hassan al Said, and Vladimir Tamari, as well as Thabiso Sekgala, who was part of HIWAR, our 25th anniversary exhibition. We also remember Zaha Hadid.
The exhibition is accompanied by a full program of artist talks and performances, films from our archive selected by artists, curators in conversation, workshops, performances, and more.
For this second exhibition, a public colloquium about knowledge production will bring Darat al Funun Fellows together in Amman for the first time to examine the ways in which knowledge about modern and contemporary Arab art is generated and disseminated. They represent a new generation of scholars who are expanding knowledge about Arab art, challenging previous paradigms, and calling for a reassessment of conventional narratives about the region and its diverse cultures.
Participating Fellows are: Amin Alsaden, Edward McDonald-Toone, Elizabeth Rauh, Fares Chalabi, Holiday Powers, Nisa Ari, and Reema Salha Fadda.
The colloquium is moderated by Dr. Silvia Naef and Dr. Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, and coordinated by Amin Alsaden.