As part of this year’s Shubbak Festival, The Mosaic Rooms are pleased to present a group exhibition showcasing a new generation of emerging artists connected to Beirut. Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath of Art Reoriented, the exhibition I Spy With My Little Eye… rose out of the curatorial duo’s research whilst working on the Lebanese Pavilion for the Venice Biennale in 2013. Over numerous studio visits in diverse cities they began to recognise a distinct and new visual language in a number of younger artists’ work.
The exhibition seeks to consider this new wave by looking at the impact of Beirut on contemporary art now. The lack of public funding available for the arts has precipitated the development of homegrown initiatives by individuals and collectives seeking to reclaim public space, create sites for experimentation, and advance debate – as much political, social and civic as artistic. The energy of the city contributes to a sense of possibility. Whilst the exhibiting artists may no longer live in, or even originate from Beirut, each has established and maintained a close connection to the city.
The generation that came of age after the end of the civil war, and developed their practices throughout the 1990s, examined notions of the archive and the collective, responding to the conditions of conflict and the complexity of post-war Lebanon. The younger artists in this exhibition, meanwhile, have been producing work rooted in a sense of transience and fragility, more concerned with unpacking the present moment than preserving the past. As suggested by the title of the exhibition, the curators imagine the artists more as clandestine observers than public commentators. In discussing the premise of the exhibition, Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath explained: “I Spy with My Little Eye… provides the artists with an opportunity to showcase their works within a generational context, intimating the rise of a young movement marked by a shift in formal and semantic concerns.” Offering a platform for emerging artists to develop their practice is a significant part of The Mosaic Rooms’ aims.
Featuring the work of thirteen artists, this is the first time such a group show has been presented in London. With works ranging from painting, video, mixed-media installation, photography and performance, the output is dynamic and engaging. The artists featured are Caline Aoun, George Awde, Mirna Bamieh, Nour Bishouty, Pascal Hachem, Charbel-joseph H. Boutros, Aya Haidar, Geörgette Power, Siska, Stéphanie Saadé, Joe Namy, Lara Tabet and Tala Worrell.
Curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath co-founded Art Reoriented in 2009, as a multidisciplinary curatorial platform based in Munich and New York. Some of their recent museum exhibitions include Mona Hatoum: Turbulence at Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha (2014), and Songs of Loss and Songs of Love: Oum Kulthoum and Lee Nan-Young at the Gwangju Museum of Art, South Korea (2014). In 2013, they were the curators of the Lebanese Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, and curated the comprehensive retrospective Paul Guiragossian: The Human Condition at the Beirut Exhibition Center, Lebanon (2013). Bardaouil and Fellrath curated Mathaf’s inaugural contemporary art exhibition Told Untold Retold, Doha (2010–2011). Their critically acclaimed travelling exhibition Tea with Nefertiti was on view at Mathaf (2012), followed by the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris, France (2013), the Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (IVAM) in Valencia, Spain (2013 – 2014) and the State Museum of Egyptian Art in Munich, Germany (2014).
Bardaouil and Fellrath have authored and contributed to several publications such as Overcoming the Modern: Dansaekhwa, The Korean Monochrome Movement, Iran Inside Out, ItaliaArabia, and Summer, Autumn, Winter…and Spring: Conversations with Artists from the Arab World.
A public program, featuring artists’ talks and performance amongst other events, will accompany the exhibition at The Mosaic Rooms. The exhibition will tour to Casa Arabe in Madrid in September 2015 and Cordoba in December 2015. A dual language publication to accompany the exhibition will be available at all venues.
Accompanied by a programme of free talks and events that aim to shed further light on the themes explored in the exhibition, including a Curators’ Tour (www.mosaicrooms.org/event/curators-tour) at 12pm, 11 July and Artists Talk (www.mosaicrooms.org/event/artists-talk-i-spy-with-my-little-eye) at 7pm, 16 July.