Under the patronage of Qatar Museums chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art yesterday launched Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility exhibition.
A part of the Qatar Creates week, the exhibition will be open until August 5. Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility is curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, directors of Hamburger Bahnhof National Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin, and assistant curator Natasha Gasparian.
First shown at Gropius Bau, Berlin (March 24 - June 12, 2022) and at the 16th Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art, France (September 14 - December 31 , 2022), the exhibition revisits a dazzling chapter from the Beirut’s modern history between 1958 and 1978.
With more than 225 artworks and 300 archival documents from 36 collections in 16 cities worldwide, it highlights Beirut’s pivotal role in elaborating a new vision for modernity through a politically engaged art where everything seemed possible.
In recognising the complex links between the past and Beirut’s current struggles, the exhibition questions the romanticising narrative of the so-called “Golden Age” that ultimately led to the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. Showcasing the city’s unparalleled cosmopolitanism, the exhibition traces the complex entanglement of art and culture within the divergent trans-regional antagonisms of that highly charged period.
Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility presents the work of many internationally-known figures in the art scene, such as Etel Adnan, Huguette Caland, Paul Guiragossian, Saloua Raouda Choucair, and Shafic Abboud, as well as various renowned artists working in the region, such as Adel Saghir, Cici Sursock, Nadia Saikali, and Rafic Charaf, among others.
The exhibition also features a newly commissioned multimedia installation by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige about the devastating 2020 explosion in Beirut, shedding new light on the transformative effects of violence on art and artistic production and the power of poetry in opposition to chaos.
HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said: “One of the many functions of art is to recollect or reimagine a home that has been lost. One of the many functions of an art museum is to create a new home, if only a temporary one, where people who are scattered can come together for a moment, pause, and reflect. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art is such a home. Its collection, exhibitions, and programmes bring together the visions of artists, and the voices of thinkers, from the far-flung Arab world, many of whom have personally experienced the pangs of displacement and exile. Mathaf’s exhibition Beirut and the Golden Sixties is another such ingathering. It is an extraordinary, moving, and deeply thoughtful assemblage of artworks and documents, many by artists who are represented in Mathaf’s collection, about a place that was both fabled and troubled and that now, though lost forever, cannot be forgotten: the flourishing, cosmopolitan Beirut of 1958 through 1975."
Zeina Arida, director of Mathaf said: “We are thrilled to present Beirut and the Golden Sixties: A Manifesto of Fragility, a unique presentation of Beirut’s history from 1958 through 1975. This exhibition paves the way to a series of exhibitions at Mathaf, which would connect artistic production to communities. I foresee Mathaf as an inclusive space, where its unique collection would always be more and more accessible to the local and international audience.
The exhibition features artists who are part of Mathaf Collection, which adds eight works from its collection and several archival documents that bring an additional understanding of the artist’s practices. We look forward to welcoming the public to delve into the events that changes the history of Beirut.”
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