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Light or Shadow of what was and still is

From June 01, 2022 until September 25, 2022Mondays through Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
MADRID
Casa Árabe exhibition halls (at Calle Alcalá, 62). Mondays through Sundays, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Free entry until the venue’s capacity is reached.
In Spanish.

Casa Árabe will be showing this exhibition at its Madrid headquarters as part of the official program of PhotoEspaña 2022. The exhibition won the second edition of the Nur call for projects, organized by the two entities. It displays works by Collective 1200 from Lebanon.

Light or 'Shadow' of what was and still is was the winning project in the second edition of the NUR competition held jointly by Casa Árabe and the PHotoESPAÑA Festival. The exhibition includes works by twelve photographers belonging to the Collective 1200 artists’ group which emerged almost spontaneously in Lebanon in late 2019 in response to a need to create mutual support networks within a context of growing uncertainty. As a group, the collective is also in charge of curating this exhibition, and the decision to do so arose from their desire as Lebanese citizens to control their own narrative for once. “In a country where those in power control our fate, this is yet another step taken in our rebellion, to make our voices heard.” Two artists from the collective spearheaded the curatorship of this show: Tarek Haddad and Betty Ketchedjian.

“Over thirty years after the end of the civil war in Lebanon, its repercussions can still be noticeably felt today. After years of cumulative economic, political and environmental failures, a revolution broke out in October 2019. The pandemic’s onset only worsened the situation, shutting down all industries and leaving little hope for recovery. Then, in August 2020, Beirut was rocked by a huge explosion at its port, causing hundreds of deaths, with thousands of people displaced, injured and traumatized. What then seemed like a death knell was followed by even more disasters: accelerating inflation, fuel shortages, blackouts, forest fires, gas tank explosions and a mass exodus by the population.

The exhibition begins in a space of indefinite time, confusing past, present and an uncertain future. It is built upon an oxymoron: the idea of a progressive loop which creates the sensation of evolution and déjà vu, though it always ends up taking us back to the same starting point. Movement becomes motionless, human presence becomes absent, tranquility becomes morbid. Here, the axis of time takes the form of a spiral in which our lives seem to spin endlessly, history repeats itself over and over again, and a feeling of stagnation is imminent. Trees, broken glass, billboards, the port of Beirut and other items are spread throughout the different works, acting as clues to the fact that, no matter what your subjective, personal experience may be, the larger narrative of the past few years in Lebanon has been shared by the majority, regardless of the differences in society or in their daily lives.

The exhibition ends with a blank note; an empty, blurred chair, a bare billboard and a sunset. This is the chance to start over, to remake things, combined with a sense of abandonment or surrender. The direction history will take remains uncertain.”

By Tarek Haddad and Betty Ketchedjian

Curators: Tarek Haddad and Betty Ketchedjian
Team: Laura Menassa and Rima Maroun
Artists: Myriam Boulos, Manu Ferneini, Omar Gabriel, Paul Gorra, Elsie Haddad, Tarek Haddad, Betty Ketchedjian, Rima Maroun, Laura Menassa, Roger Mokbel, Walid Nehme and Ieva Saudargaite Douaihi
Light or Shadow of what was and still is
Myriam Boulos - Tell the trees to smile - 2021

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