May 18, 2010 - BAK - Rabih Mroue I, the Undersigned
May 18, 2010

Rabih Mroue I, the Undersigned

Rabih Mroué
Je Veux Voir, 2010
Video still

Rabih Mroué
I, the Undersigned
21 May – 1 August 2010

Opening: 20 May 2010, 20.00 hrs
Lange Nieuwstraat 4, Utrecht
The Netherlands

www.bak-utrecht.nl

Between 21 May and 1 August, BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht proudly presents I, the Undersigned, the first solo exhibition by Lebanese theater director, playwright, actor, and visual artist Rabih Mroué.

Coming from a theater background, Mroué has explored different genealogies of the realm of performance, referring both to a tradition of critical theater in line with Brechtian methods and to performance art connected to developments in western contemporary art. His artistic practice escapes disciplinary frameworks by mixing methods and cultural cannons, by complicating the distinctions between fiction and reality, and by blending past “facts” with speculation about the current moment. Mroué belongs to the artistic generation that matured after the (formal) end of the Lebanese Civil War in 1990, and his work has been deeply influenced by the ongoing conflicts in the country, the Middle East region, and the urgency of the political and cultural issues that pervade this reality such as identity construction, historical narration, exclusion, and remembrance. In such a context, Mroué’s work can be seen as a continuous inquiry into the artist’s responsibility and position in both artistic frameworks enveloped by traditional conventions and in adverse political circumstances. His practice engages with some critical questions such as: How to express truth through fiction? Can artistic subjectivity create a communal, meaningful, and ethically grounded exchange with a public in times when individuals are increasingly divided by their religious and political outlooks? How can one establish dialogue in a traumatized society, aware of this reality but not falling into the trap of disconsolate mourning, as the politics of memory is often seen today? Grappling with these dilemmas has led Mroué toward an unambiguous stance. “I’m working with these issues in order to forget,” he says, “not to remember.” His “forgetting,” however, cannot be regarded as irresponsible dis-identification with one’s own history. Rather it is an active process of coming to terms with, and a refusal of, the implacability of the consequences of conflict and a rejection of a permanent state of exception.

The exhibition I, the Undersigned expresses some of these concerns, while at the same time analyzing the place of knowledge generated by art within exceptional, history-making situations. The exhibited works (which include two new installations presented with some of the artist’s key recent pieces) remind us that even if the concrete political and cultural circumstances of Lebanon happen to be the artist’s point of departure, questions about the power of individual resilience and responsibility vis-à-vis collective society have much wider resonance in a world full of entanglements, as we witness today.

Rabih Mroué (born 1967) is an actor, director, playwright, visual artist, and a contributing editor of The Drama Review (TDR) as well as a co-founder and board member of the Beirut Art Center (BAC), Beirut. In 2010 Mroué was awarded an Artist Grant for Theatre/Performance Arts from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, New York and the Spalding Gray Award. Recent exhibitions include: Performa 09, New York, 2009; 11th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 2009; Tarjama/Translation, Queens Museum of Art, New York, 2009; Sjarjah Biennial, Sjarjah, 2009; Soft Manipulation – Who is afraid of the new now?, Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg, 2008; and Medium Religion, Center for Art and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe, 2008. Mroué lives and works in Beirut.

Performance
On 17 June at 18.30 hrs, BAK presents the performance The Inhabitants of Images by Rabih Mroué in the context of the conference Waiting for the Political Moment. For more information please visit: www.waitingforthepoliticalmoment.org.

Related program
Parallel to the exhibition at BAK, Festival a/d Werf presents the performance Looking for a Missing Employee, 2003, by Rabih Mroué on 22 and 23 May at 21.00 hrs in Utrecht. For more information, please visit: www.festivalaandewerf.nl.

BAK Opening hours
Wednesday−Saturday 12.00−17.00 hrs
Sunday 13.00−17.00 hrs

For further information, please contact:
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst
Lange Nieuwstraat 4
3512 PH Utrecht
t: +31 (0)30 2316125
f: +31 (0)30 2304866
e: info@bak-utrecht.nl

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