Through the Roadblocks – Beirut
Everybody Knows this is Nowhere stemmed from the desire to create a collaborative work by an artist, a curator and a filmmaker. The roles of the three collaborators – Mayssa Fattouh, Nesrine Khodr and Ghassan Salhab – became intertwined and blurred, making the designations of each somewhat obsolete, where all three turn into the main audience of the work.
In this video work, Salhab taps on the semantical aspect of borders and frontiers delving into the human essence. “The question of alterity poses the question of borders” – known to be formulated by Herodotus – is a question still as valid today as it was back in Greek times in the 5th century BC. The video raises timeless questions, such as duality shown through the use of the diptych and the idea of containment, appearing in the image of the checkpoint, where the flows of the body, language, and expressions are controlled within a defined territory.
The factor of time again comes to play a major role in the way it rules the body and the psyche. In his minimalist approach, Salhab’s video immerses the viewer in a reality that is known too well but often ignored, with a reference to the Lebanese political state and the abstraction in which a human being faces in such conditions, highlighted in the poignant pose of waiting, in itself a condition relating to the human essence in Heideggerian philosophy. By raising the question of otherness, Salhab also challenges the understanding of borders into all that is physically and mentally outside of oneself.
Opting out the conventional rituals of exhibition, the project takes a low key turn, making it a week long participatory viewing session in a non-white cube space for a mixed and unidentified public. The second life of the collaboration and the piece as a finished consumable artwork starts as a discussion form between the three amongst themselves and expands with the passing by viewers and their inputs to form a compilation of questions, views and opinions on the nature of such a work and project.
The essence of such an approach is best expressed through Nicolas Bourriaud’s notion which he highlights in his book Postproduction: “The contemporary work of art does not position itself as the termination point of the ‘creative process’ but as a site of navigation, a portal, a generator of activities.”
This process driven project highlights the trading of ideas between curator, artist and audience, aesthetics and knowledge production base, challenging the often canonised and commodified contemporary art world as well as the limits of public and private contexts for art.
Curators: Nesrine Khodr and Mayssa Fattouh
Artist: Ghassan Salhab
Plan Bey locale - Mar Mikhael An-Naher, Beirut, Lebanon