In Collaboration with Walid Raad
Our proposal proceeds from and begins to answer the following question: How can we deserve Lebanon’s modern and contemporary arts? Are we and have we been attentive to the meanings, ideas, forms, temporalities, lines, volumes or colors made available to us by modern and contemporary art and artists in Lebanon?
Our answer is: Not yet. We may be on our way, but in the meantime, we propose resilient patience and extreme caution. Still, as we wait, and lest we uncritically accept the madcap rush to erect yet another building that houses a counterfeit canon with its heroes, periods, and isms, we propose a physical opening, a clearing of the ground, an excavation and a foundation. Digging leads elsewhere, away from here. Underground tentacles scatter towards other recent or not-so-recent cultural spaces. These places are mostly private - dare we say “princely” - collections, mini-museums, galleries, apartments, malls, coffers, closets and depots. While few of these sprouting cultural seeds will ever flower, let alone bear fruit, they nonetheless lead the way as the private-princely-patron sector always does in Lebanon. We go “there” because they propose the possibilities and the limits we must contend with as we await not-so-much the art, but the conditions that will make it possible for the political, art-historical, theoretical, curatorial, financial, administrative and architectural devices to do justice to Lebanon’s modern and contemporary art. We will not rush to mount Lebanon’s art onto walls that wall-off, lights that do not enlighten, and floors that floor. Ours is a multi-stage construction proposal.
Here, we offer Stage 0 or The Preface ( 2016 – 20-- ): A clearance that makes room for what has yet to arrive, all the while offering signposts, indices to the places from which Stage 1 may emerge. We essentially await the artists, curators, theorists, art historians, managers, engineers, conservators, architects and designers who might create the spaces, concepts, laws, periods, isms, forms and devices that Lebanon’s arts deserve. We give them, and ourselves an undetermined number of years. At which point, Stage 1 may hopefully begin.