Tarek Abou El Fetouh
The sixth edition of the multidisciplinary Forum on Cultural Practices in Beirut vastly expanded its reach in 2013. Works from Desert of Pharan were presented as part of the exhibition programme.
The 6th edition of Home Works is inspired by tinkerings heard on side-streets, rooftops, hallways, and in stadiums, living rooms, classrooms, and storage spaces. These are experienced as sites of excavation – and of trial: Trial as an act of hearing and rehearsal; trial as glimpsed through the fallible strata of history. As long as it’s in effect, as long as it’s living, a verdict, like history, cannot be annexed to the past. We remain in this transitional and indefinite trial until we agree on the authority which will adjudicate. Until when should we wait for this authority to come forth? Perhaps it is in preparation for the arrival of the judge that we become individual citizens. Or perhaps it is the judge who, by adjudicating, makes us into individuals. Should then those informal spaces – those rooftops, classrooms and hallways – be inducted into the structure of the trial? And if so, what would remain of these tinkerings?
The exhibition program for Home Works 6 adopted strategies of spatial and temporal transferences, reenacting three key exhibitions that took place at transitional moments in history: the first Alexandria Biennial in 1955; the First Arab Art Biennial in Baghdad in 1974; and the exhibition “China/Avant-Garde” in Beijing in 1989. Inspired by Ibn Arabi’s concept of time as a fluid place and place as a frozen time, the exhibition examines the locations and conditions of the present, which finds itself once again at a historical juncture. The exhibition summoned the past and present of Baghdad, Alexandria, and Beijing to Beirut 2013, suggesting leaps among these different epochs and locales, and among the basic laws that have governed our culture and our thought. The exhibition did not seek to redraw a historical map. Rather, it presented a body of contemporary artworks against three crucial events – all of which were fuelled by important political, social and artistic movements – as a layer in time and place that is at once conductive and disruptive.