A project space on the ground floor of Rue Pasteur in the popular Beirut neighborhood Gemmayze, La Vitrine presents site-specific artist interventions in a four by two metre, high-ceilinged room. The space overlooks the sidewalk with a glass door serving as the only separator between it and the passersby. Artists have been invited to work on site-specific projects responding to a range of pertinent topics, mainly exploring social issues and public space. Each presentation highlights how artists interpret concepts within a constricted area with a public interface, revealing just enough information to substitute the presence of artists themselves.
Blurring the lines between the inside looking out and the outside looking in, La Vitrine’s activations explore the role of space in the presentation of art (its physicality and its attributes), as well as the role of the artist within all this. In a time with widespread lockdowns and physical distancing, this project allows us to examine what happens when we alter the conventional art presentation model with one that increases the physical distance between the viewer and the artwork.
You can view all the La Vitrine presentations here.
Some of Art Dubai’s favourite La Vitrine presentations:
The Breathless Forest by Ali Cherri
Multidisciplinary artist Ali Cherri, born during the Lebanese Civil War, explores various historically tied narratives in his practice that are largely shaped by the unstable environment in which he grew up. For La Vitrine, Cherri explores the concept of a ‘failed diorama’, through a three-dimensional, life-sized simulated environment in which nature is put on display. The Breathless Forest provocatively invites the viewer to examine the diorama, which stands in stark contrast to the nature dioramas often found in museums.
To watch the Art Dubai Portrait of Ali Cherri, click here.
Lies by Raed Yassin
Beirut-based, Raed Yassin’s work moves between performances, art and music, and often examines personal narratives and their position within a collective history, through the lens of consumerism and mass production. Lies is a commentary on the ill-fated social and political condition in Lebanon. Inside the dark space stands a kangaroo, representing a citizen in a disillusioned society, alienated both by self and by the state. Yassin’s approach is often concealed through an array of visually colourful elements that aim to reinterpret the current state of collective consciousness.
To watch the Art Dubai Portrait of Raed Yassin, click here.
Summer ’91 by Nadim Tabet & Karine Wehbé
Film director Nadim Tabet and artist/graphic designer Karine Wehbé teamed up to create an exhibition mimics the look and feel of an indoor pool. Encased with swimming pool tiles, the installation projects a woman’s underwater figure onto the walls, accompanied by echoes of the voices of playing children, overlaid by the chants of the current Lebanese revolution. This ‘snapshot moment’ captured in the installation highlights a contrast between this bubble of safety and normality, to the turbulent realities just outside the door.
Exhibitionist by Omar Khouri
Interdisciplinary artist, Omar Khouri’s site-specific installation Exhibitionist poses questions about the ways art is experienced and consumed. To the artist, the outside glass represents the conceptual barriers placed between the artworks and their potential viewer, creating a sense of alienation and rejection and a sterilised mode of consumption. The installation also calls into question the hyper-consumerist nature of the art market, prompting discussions about value versus price and private ownership versus public access among other things.
More about Beirut Art Residency
Founded in 2015, Beirut Art Residency (BAR) is a non-profit organisation that supports the production and dissemination of contemporary art in Lebanon through its three primary facets: residencies, local exhibitions and public interventions. BAR’s residency programme is dedicated to providing emerging and mid-career artists with the time and space to create new work, and focuses on the professional growth of artists from all disciplines. Through its exhibitions and public interventions, BAR aspires to enhance the approachability of contemporary art to build an appreciation for its role in society and often presents works experimental in nature.