The Lebanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale: Contradictions and the Search for Money, Both Intimate and Political

Beirut – “Al Quds Al Arabi”: Plastic artist Ayman Baalbaki and filmmaker Danielle Arbid represented Lebanon at the Venice Biennale, which opened on April 23 and will last until November 27, 2022. It is in this pavilion that the great and aspiring ” Janus Gate ”monument for Ayman Baalbaki begins, as well as the loud“ Hello, my love ”video by Danielle Arbid from the streets of Beirut.
Between the artists, a dialogue with meanings in a city that embodies not only Lebanon but also the world. They portray it in the midst of the turmoil of a global crisis and the emotional instability of our relationship with technology-controlled reality.
In his work, Ayman Baalbaki presents a two-faced monument, fragmented in the image of Beirut, that constantly oscillates, like the Latin god Janus, between past and future, between dangers and promises, between scenes and facades, between peace and war.
As for the public space, it was adorned with flashy advertisements reminiscent of the facade of many buildings being built in Beirut. And behind the scenes is the decoration of an old guardhouse that looks like a modest hut in a poor neighborhood. And between the two spaces, the door remains open to go through and swing from one side to the other.
According to her style, Danielle Arbid conveys the echo of this fragmentation in Beirut in “Hello, my love” through a turbulent view of time and place, clearly in images captured by a cell phone, highlighting the fierce competition between the real and the virtual emphasizes. .
Arbid takes Venice Biennale goers on a car ride with her mother, who went on a furious race to make money in the streets of Beirut. It is an intimate endeavor as much as it is political, when we realize the crisis that is currently plaguing Lebanon.
In front of the eyes of the visitors, the Beirut scene turns from behind the front façade, creating more ambiguity between the public space and the private space. The video “Hello, my love” highlights the congruence of sound and image captured separately using split screen technology for the first time in a work by Danielle Arbid. As in video games, we swing with it sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, and we enter his artistic work, as we pass through the “Janus Gate.”
As for Ayman Baalbaki, he relies on diversification in his interactive art. This diversification is represented by the fabrics of sails that are destroyed, torn, patched, burned, perforated, and eventually painted by color technique, which disturbs all the spatio-temporal clues. This exhibition offers all Lebanese residents and expatriates a space for a symbolic exchange on Lebanon’s history and present through the dialogue embodied by the artist Ayman Baalbaki, who lives and works in Lebanon, and the filmmaker and artist Danielle Arbid, who left homeland. at the age of 17 and yet remains a source of inspiration for her.
The political dimension of the two works that Lebanon represented in the Venice Biennale lies in shedding light on the current situation in Lebanon. Two works that express Lebanese contradictions and outstanding problems through many signs. The furious race to make money is therefore accompanied by the violence that is currently raging in Lebanon. As for property speculation, which promises dreams, it hides destruction and deceives the buyer. Thus, concerns about the economic and political collapse in Lebanon began to arise more and more. Each of the artists, in his own way, and by walking the thread of eternal return, revives the body of Lebanon amidst its chaos and the perfection of its beauty.
The scenography in the Lebanese pavilion met the requirements of the project to organize works of art, i.e. the idea of ​​dialogue, which is an essential factor in the spirit of this project.
Architect Aline Asmar Daman, reflecting the work of Daniel Arbid and Ayman Baalbaki, offers a tour through the heart of Lebanon, where the architecture of the Lebanese Pavilion has taken the form of a solid oval shell. It is a reference to the eternal covenant of renaissance and unity. The encapsulated geometric shape invites business to dialogue without tricks, face to face and shortening of distances, as is the case with an innate and natural conversation. ” The initial architecture of the Lebanese pavilion refers to the contemporary effects of the Lebanese urban scene, to the “egg” in the city center designed by architect Joseph Philip Karam, and to the Rashid Karami International School in Tripoli, designed by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.
This scenographic landmark, which covers an area of ​​about 150 square meters, is derived from the “Protalist” architecture that has flourished in Lebanon since the 1960s, and refers to the wanderings of Ayman Baalbaki and Daniel Arbid in Beirut. Covering this landmark are curved panels painted in a concrete texture, indicating a city that is constantly being rebuilt.
Upon entering the Lebanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the visitor receives the work of Ayman Baalbaki, before noticing Daniel Arbid’s video, which is displayed against the walls of the master.
It is noteworthy that this participation is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and organized by the Lebanese Association of Visual Arts. As the International Exhibition of Contemporary Art – the Venice Biennale enters its 59th year, Lebanon offers a symbolic journey from the world of the present and the image of man, through the city of Beirut.

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