Selections highlights stand-out exhibitions, including an exploration of Beirut’s complexity, a new history of Palestine in Khalil Rabah’s nomadic museum and the political cartoons that catalogue half a century of regional turmoil.
This fleeting collaboration between Lebanese photographer Gilbert Hage and Italian duo Antonello Ghezzi was a playful and uplifting experiment in art as peaceful protest. Blow (Against the Walls) is an interactive performance piece created by Italian artists Nadia Antonello and Paolo Ghezzi. The piece formed part of Documenta 14 in Athens last summer and has also been staged in Paris, Italy, Russia, Argentina and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Participants at the Beirut exhibition were invited to make use of dozens of little plastic bottles of bubble mixture, mixed with colourful pigments. Selecting their colour of choice, they were asked to blow bubbles against a makeshift wall, swathed in white cardboard and erected in the middle of the gallery. Over time, dozens of different people used their breath to create bursts and drips of colour, resulting in a collaborative abstract painting. The performance is intended to protest physical barriers around the world, from the separation wall around the West Bank, to Donald Trump’s proposed Mexico border wall. Around the gallery, the results of the performance in Athens, overlaid with black outlines of walls and barbed wire, added colourful encouragement.
The work was paired with nine photographs from Hage’s playful 2011 series I Hated You Already Because of the Lies I Had Told You. Inspired by the uprising across the Arab world, the photos each capture a woman sticking out her tongue. Blown up and zoomed in to show every detail of each subject’s lips and tongue, the images become almost abstract, the surface of each organ rough and textured like a moonscape.
Hage’s irreverent series, at once adult in its eroticism and childlike in its simplicity of gestural dissent, paired well with its counterpart as a symbol of refusal that is creative, universal and fun.
Featured image: Installation shots of the show, courtesy of Galerie Tanit and the artists
A version of this article appeared in print in Selections, Curriculum Vitae #44, page 21.