‘A Model’ by Rayyane Tabet at the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean

Rayyane Tabet Six Nights 2023 Photo Walid Rashid

Curators Bettina Steinbrügge, Sarah Beaumont, Clément Minighetti, and Joel Valabrega orchestrated the exhibition “A Model” at the Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Pavilion, Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, featuring Lebanese artist Rayyane Tabet. Trained as an architect, Tabet emphasises the contextual integration of his projects, delving into the historical framework of museum architecture.

Trilogy, his site-specific installation, engages with pivotal moments in contemporary and Luxembourg history, intertwined with personal memories. Incorporating Sanatorium Paimio’s bedroom furniture, designed by Alvar Aalto, the installation transforms the pavilion’s walkway with translucent curtains from Tabet’s grandparents’ Beirut apartment, symbolising openness and progress. Contrasting this, the pavilion’s glass roof panels, covered with a blue film references Beirut’s 1967 Six-Day War, rendering Mudam’s interior invisible from above. Additionally, Tabet addresses the 2020 Beirut explosion on the lower floor, presenting jugs made from glass fragments retrieved onsite, symbolising a conceptual repair. Tabet’s body of work transcends sociocultural contexts, blending historical and subjective memory to offer alternative readings and meanings. The exhibition unfolds as a dialogue between the artist’s personal reflections and critical moments in history, enriching the museum’s architectural narrative.

Rayyane Tabet Six Nights 2023 Photo by Walid Rashid

In the last two years, Rayyane Tabet immersed himself in contemporary literature on museums, delving into their challenges and potential futures. Noting a pervasive commitment to change, Tabet found many discussions repetitive, oscillating between progressive, conservative, and market-driven ideas. Inspired by Eileen Myles’s “Pathetic Literature,” he reflected on the inherent pathos in human endeavors and sought simplicity in addressing the evolving needs of contemporary museums. Tabet discovered solace in a 1968 project where Palle Nielsen transformed Stockholm’s Moderna Museet into a massive playground. Embracing play, accessibility, curiosity, and fun as essential ingredients for the new museum, Tabet returned to the basics while working on the exhibition “A Model.” He contemplates the fundamental elements a museum should embody: art, community, playfulness, fun, progressive thinking, and, above all, artists. Citing James Baldwin’s assertion that “Artists are here to disturb the peace,” Tabet underscores the role of artists in questioning and subverting established truths. Proposing a shift from the static archive image, Tabet advocates exploring museums as active, performative spaces where collections become dynamic environments rather than static repositories of objects. The exhibition he worked on delves into these possibilities, reflecting the changing landscape of museums in an era where time-based, event-based, and experimental artworks gain prominence.

Bettina Steinbrügge:

‘Contemporary art reflects the issues we face in our daily lives: how to act, how to think, what to believe in. Contemporary art can be entertaining, provocative – even irritating. Sometimes it is breathtaking, often it can be difficult, but it is always alive. That is why it makes us think, why it puzzles and fascinates us: it reflects our world. It is perhaps the best place to make sense of being human in a world that seems to be changing so inexorably. A key tenet of my museum practice is that the art world needs to see its work not merely as an abstract space of representation, but also as a space in which material realities are constructed and sustained, in which narratives draw us into alternative worlds, for better or worse.

This is how A Model came to be.’

Rayyane Tabet The Return 2023 Photo Walid Rashid

About Rayyane Tabet

Lebanese artist Rayyane Tabet (b. 1983, Ashqout) has showcased his solo exhibitions at prestigious venues like the Walker Art Center, Sharjah Art Foundation, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. His international presence extends to group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial (2022) and the 7th Yokohama Triennial (2020). Participating in renowned biennials like Sharjah, Istanbul, and Sydney, Tabet explores diverse global contexts. Currently residing between Beirut and San Francisco, his multidisciplinary practice delves into sociocultural narratives and historical frameworks.

Location: Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg

Dates: 1 December, 2023 – 12 May, 2024

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