98Weeks at ISCP - Open Studios
In October 2011, ISCP launched an annual residency for an international contemporary art organization. This residency was initiated in the same spirit as ISCP’s residency program, to support cultural exchange by bringing an international perspective into a local context. Currently in residence at ISCP is 98weeks, a non-profit, artist-run space in Beirut. 98weeks operates within an expanding arts infrastructure and addresses a new generation of artists living in Beirut. Their activities are collaborative and research-based, combining both theoretical and practical forms of inquiry. 98weeks’ projects take multiple forms such as workshops, community projects, seminars, video screenings, reading groups and publications. Every 98 weeks, a research topic is outlined and worked on for that same time period. 98weeks’ first topic addressed spatial practices in Beirut, and their current subject focuses on publications. Activities, ideas and projects often stem from ongoing discussions and conversations with the community of artists living in Beirut.
To translate this singular configuration into another city, and to transpose 98weeks’ project space into an institutional one, poses different challenges, such as how to re-present the immaterial, process-based nature of 98weeks’ activities. In order to address this, 98weeks presents A Program, which is being hosted by ISCP to accompany Open Studios, and which reflects on operating strategies and structural differences. A Program will have autonomous opening hours and will host a series of events to gather the audience at a given time and space. These events will introduce the public to 98weeks through the group’s first two research topics.
98weeks A Program Schedule
November 4-6th, 3-7pm: On the city, a selection of videos and works that disclose urban narratives on contemporary Beirut, revealing aspects of the city and its history that have not yet been subsumed under dominant narratives or popular clichés. Artists include Marwa Arsanios, Vartan Avakian, Mounira el Solh, Siska and Karine Wehbe. Most of the works could be considered as detours, circumventing what is most visible and overwhelming: traces of war destruction, sensationalist reportages, or the commonplace representation of a city standing between the East and the West. Most works are concerned with following material remains – architecture ruins, which stand as witnesses to anecdotal histories, still to be narrated. In her work Marwa Arsanios researches the history of the beach resort Acapulco which stood as an autonomous living pocket promising a dolce vita amidst political turmoil and radical urban transformations. Mounira el Solh’s work, the Sea is a Stereo queries our perception of Beirut’s swimmers, which everyday, swim in Beirut’s public beach located along the city’s main pedestrian walkway. Siska’s video E.D.L portrays Lebanon’s National Electricity building as homage to a once modernist project linked to the very construction of Lebanon’s modern state. On Publications revisits historical publications from the Middle East, reinterpreting their present potential for our understanding of the history of literary and publishing production. A selection of books by artists close to 98weeks’ activities will be available for the public to read by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Mirene Arsanios, Rayya Badran, Mounira el Solh, Rana Hamadeh, Hatem Imam, Samandal Magazine, Jana Traboulsi and Karine Wehbe.
Saturday, November 5th, 5pm: On Publications Suneela Sunbula and Mirene Ghossein will read two poems, by Sargon Boulos and Adonis, respectively, and both published in Shi’r, an avant-garde poetry magazine (1957 – 1970) created by the Lebanese poet Youssef el Khal and known for introducing the prose poem in Arabic.
Sunday, November 6th, 3pm: Text Tasks: Roles and Relations in Artistic Research, a roundtable conversation with Mirene Arsanios and Sidsel Nelund addressing a series of physical and dialogical tasks challenging the relation between thinking and doing, theory and practice. These tasks have been developed through an ongoing conversation between Arsanios and Nelund on the conditions of knowledge, its performance and its spaces of production. At ISCP they will enact three ‘text tasks’ that explore and expand the possibilities of the text by performing its different usages.