George Bernard Shaw once said, “Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.” Never has it been so true as it is in Lebanon. With all the ongoing political and social struggles we face today, art is more important than ever as a release. It is a way for us to find beauty in the world, to transport ourselves into the minds of those who dare to see the world through a different light. In essence, it allows us to borrow the imaginations of the creative, and make it our own, if only for a while.
But it’s not just the fantasy of art that makes it worth our attention. Without the creative minds at work every day, we lose the ability to connect with innovation and forward-thinking – for it is those who stretch their minds beyond the expected that allow us to arrive at new horizons.
Sara Nirookbakhsh, Untitled, 2014, Giclee printed on acid free Epson paper hot press, natural, 63 x 45.5 cm, Courtesy Artspace Hamra, Lebanon
This year, the Beirut Art Fair is running its 6th edition, from September 17th until the 20th, inviting over 51 galleries from 19 countries to exhibit 1500 pieces of work from 300 artists. The artists involved hail from all over the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Europe, showcasing work ranging in a variety of mediums and disciplines. From painting and photography, to digital art and installations, the fair promises to be three days of creative discovery.
Hania Farrell, Swimming Pool, Installation, Courtesy Hania Farrell, United Kingdom
The spotlight this year will be on digital art. Curator Pascal Odille will be presenting an exhibition of artists that hope to “…destabilize the viewers senses…making them travel across the kingdom of illusions.”
In addition to featuring several digital installation artists from around the world, one of the highlights of the digital exhibition will be a selection of unpublished videos from trans-disciplinary artist Marina Abramovic. Abramovic has achieved several accolades in the art world, but when it comes to the mainstream world, she achieved the highest: She went viral.
In 2010, her exhibition, The Artist is Present, saw her sitting in a chair while individuals were invited to sit across from her at a table silently. However, the internet sensation happened when Abramovic opened her eyes to see her ex-lover sitting on the opposite chair, staring back at her. The touching moment as she tears up and reaches across the table to hold his hand was viewed over 12 million times around the world.
Photograph by Marco Anelli
Running in parallel with the fair, Beirut Art Week will be taking to the streets of the capital from September 15th to the 22nd. Using the urban landscape, a selection of global artists will be expressing their art in the form of installations, sculptures, and performances around the city’s landmarks.
Axel Hütte, Portrait #19, 2004, C Print, Edition of 4, 130 x 160 cm, Courtesy Galerie Tanit, Lebanon/Germany
Leyli Rashidi, Untitled, 2014, Oil on canvas, 180 x 125 cm, Courtesy ARTLAB, Lebanon
Featured image credits: Mehdi Meddaci, Le radeau II, 2013, Videogramme, Courtesy Galerie Odile Ouizeman, France
Beirut Art Fair will begin on September 17th, at BIEL Hall 2. For more information go to www.beirut-art-fair.com