‘Allegorical Ruins’ by Raed Yassin at Gallery Isabelle

Gallery Isabelle presents ‘Allegorical Ruins,’ an exploration of time and memory by Lebanese artist Raed Yassin, on display from May 7th to June 27th, 2024. Inspired by the insightful reflections of French theorist Roland Barthes in his seminal work “Camera Lucida” (1980), Yassin encourages viewers to contemplate the eerie resonance of photography and the ghostly aura that imbues his artistic creations.

Series of The Company of Silver Spectres (2021)

Barthes posits that in every photograph lies ‘the return of the dead.’ This concept suggests that photography, by freezing moments from the past, perpetually resurrects those captured instances in the present. Raed Yassin explores this notion in his ongoing project, ‘The Company of Silver Spectres’ (2021-ongoing), where he delves into the complexities of memory, time, and loss.

Yassin’s artistic journey begins with the collection of old black and white photographs, sourced from flea markets, antique shops, and auctions across various regions. These photographs, primarily focusing on individuals and their personal lives rather than grand events or landscapes, serve as intimate relics of family narratives and belonging. Despite their significance, Yassin finds them discarded and no longer treasured, prompting him to intervene.

Series of The Company of Silver Spectres (2021)

Through a transformative process, Yassin spray-paints these photographs in monochromatic colours, obscuring their specificity and summoning ghosts from the past. While initially appearing as acts of erasure, these gestures paradoxically serve as a means of preservation, ensuring that the images never fade into oblivion. The resultant artworks present vibrant colours that starkly contrast with the inherent sense of loss, simultaneously inviting viewers to confront the absence and presence.

Yassin’s personal history, shaped by Lebanon’s Civil War and the loss of his family photographs, infuses his work with a profound longing and remembrance. His installations, such as ‘City Mirage’ (2024), composed of vintage letters from Beirut’s shop signs, further encapsulate the city’s evolving landscape and the relentless march of time. By salvaging these remnants of the past, Yassin highlights the ongoing destruction of urban spaces and preserves fragments of memory amidst the chaos.

Series of The Company of Silver Spectres (2021)

Despite the prevailing themes of loss and ruination, Yassin’s work offers glimpses of hope and resilience. In ‘Mirage”‘(2024), a neon sign bearing the titular word flickers intermittently, symbolising Beirut’s enduring struggles yet hinting at the possibility of positive change. This subtle beacon of optimism amidst turmoil underscores Yassin’s belief in the power of imagination and transformation, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Through ‘The Company of Silver Spectres,’ Yassin navigates the intricate intersections of personal and collective memory, urging viewers to confront the ghosts of the past while envisioning a future untethered from the constraints of history. In doing so, he crafts a poignant testament to the enduring human capacity for remembrance, resilience, and renewal.

About Raed Yassin

Raed Yassin is an interdisciplinary artist and musician. After graduating from the Institute of Fine Arts in Beirut in 2003, he explored diverse mediums including video, sound, photography, and performance. His work delves into personal narratives within collective history, often critiquing consumer culture and mass production. Yassin has been artist-in-residence at prestigious institutions like De Ateliers, Amsterdam, and Delfina Foundation, London. A recipient of the Abraaj Group Art Prize, he recently exhibited at the Lyon Biennial and Taipei Biennial. Yassin recently presented a solo exhibition at the Beirut Art Center. As a musician, he organises the Irtijal Festival and manages the independent label Annihaya. Currently based in Berlin and Beirut.

Location: Gallery Isabelle, Dubai

Date: May 7th to June 27th, 2024



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