Sunday, December 12, 2010


art & exhibitions: arabicityAccording to Fiona Jenvey, CEO of Mpdclick, Beirut today is a mecca for artists and creatives.

'Arabicity' - the recent exhibition of contemporary art from the Arab world reveals Beirut's creative ambition. The exhibition documents the city in a state midway between collapse and rebirth.

A beaten-up red Mercedes serves as the centrepiece for 'Arabicity'; rusted and dented, the car nearly creaks under the weight of a towering stack of household belongings piled high onto its roof. There are bedrolls, suitcases, plastic buckets, kitchen appliances, tables, chairs, a ladder, a toolbox, a bicycle, and lumps of even more stuff bundled into bright floral fabrics - all of which bring to mind a sadly ordinary sight, particularly in South Lebanon, of a family fleeing some known or unknown calamity. On top of this comical and exaggerated assemblage, there is a painting, held in a crude wooden frame, of a young boy with eyes full of sorrow, possibly fear. And then, the whole thing starts to spin: the car sits on a platform ringed in neon that rotates at regular intervals, periodically turning on its axis a few times before coming back to rest.

This exhibition featured works from Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, Buthayna Ali, Chant Avedissian, Ayman Baalbaki, Hassan Hajjaj, Fathi Hassan, Susan Hefuna and Raeda Saadeh.

Arabicity reveals a conflicted relationship between creative endeavour and corporate ambition for a city which is in the middle of cultural rebirth. The exhibition’s glossy professionalism also signals a bright future for the city's creative culture.

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