Marfa’ Projects works with local and regional artists to produce and present idea-based projects that engage with Beirut’s diverse contemporary art scene. Marfa’ Projects was founded by Joumana Asseily in 2015 and builds on her deep links with the city’s independent non-profit art scene. The gallery is located in two garages near the customs house in the Marfa’ neighbourhood, which means port in Arabic. Beirut’s port has long been one of the foundations of the city’s economic life, a key transit point for goods and information between Lebanon and the world. The gallery supports local artists to build links internationally, as well as providing a platform in Beirut for the work of pertinent international artists. Two key elements of the exhibitions programme are parallel events and publications that are released with every exhibition and that aim at engaging with contributors and with the local audience.
What did you do before you opened Marfa’ Projects in 2015?
Before opening Marfa’ I collaborated and supported institutions such as Ashkal Alwan, where I joined the board, and the Beirut Art Centre where I helped support shows such as Penone, Richter Kader Attia and more.
Could you tell us about your first exhibition, which acted as a statement for your program?
Our first show with Vartan Avakian, Collapsing Clouds of Gas and Dust, was a new production that was part of an on-going conceptual project. It featured artworks resulting from an elaborate artistic and scientific process: a set of crystals made out of dust collected in the Barakat Building and a series of photographs.
Why did you choose the name Marfa’ for your gallery and how did you choose the location for the gallery?
Marfa’ means port in Arabic and this is where we are. It’s the name of the area we’re located in.
How would you define the identity of your gallery?
We work closely with artists from diverse backgrounds on idea-based projects.
What can you tell us about the roster of artists you represent?
They’re mid-career to established artists from different backgrounds (architecture, filmmaking, fine arts and more).
You have participated to several art fairs around the world.
Yes we participated in Liste Basel, Paris Internationale, Arto Rama, Frieze London, Artissima and Art Basel.
“WE WORK CLOSELY WITH ARTISTS FROM DIVERSE
Which photograph from 2019 best represents your gallery and activity?
Composition With a Recurring Sound, 2018. Copper alloys, radio waves and a river. Exhibition view from Of All That Is Seen and Unseen by Vartan Avakian. courtesy of Marfa’ Gallery. Tamara Al Samerraei, Green Carpet, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 186 x 167 cm. Courtesy of Marfa’Gallery. Paola Yacoub, Casts of Bullet Holes from North/ South, Wall Situated on the Green Line, 1995 (detail). From the exhibition Radical Grounds (until January 11, 2020). Courtesy of Marfa’ Gallery.
Could you tell us about your program for 2020?
We’re currently working on it and planning also our next art fairs as well, so I can’t share much about it yet.
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS, SHOW & TELL #51