An Aesthetics of Expiration: Ziad Antar in Conversation with Anthony Downey

02 May 2012

Ziad Antar, Cote d’Azure Hotel, Jnah Beirut, Built in 1973, 2007. Courtesy of Selma Feriani Gallery, London.

Born in Saida, Lebanon, in 1978, Ziad Antar studied at the American University in Beirut and the École Supérieure d’études Cinématographiques (ESEC) in Paris. His work in photography and video examines approaches to photography and what processes lie behind the production of images, not to mention their subsequent role as symbols of time passing, and the apparent realities of cities. Although not interested in the final quality of the image, Antar is singularly preoccupied with the exigencies and formal demands of image production and the everyday contexts out of which photographs emerge. What makes an image symbolic, he seems to ask; or, more simply, what makes an image? (more…)

Lost in Narration: Rabih Mroué in conversation with Anthony Downey

05 January 2012

Rabih Mroué, On Three Posters, reflections on a video-performance, 2004, installation detail, Iniva at Rivington Place, London, 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Iniva at Rivington Place, London.

Beirut-based artist, theatre director, actor and writer Rabih Mroué is a central figure in post-Civil War Beirut’s avant-garde scene. Beginning his career in the early 1990s, he has produced performances, video work and installations meditating on and questioning the legacy of Lebanon’s Civil War (1975-1990). A regular collaborator with Lebanese artists Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Mroué appeared alongside French actress Catherine Deneuve in their 2008 film, Je Veux Voir. His stage works conjoin the worlds of theatre and performance art as well as narrative fact and fiction. (more…)

Restaging the (Objective) Violence of Images: Reza Aramesh in conversation with Anthony Downey

01 November 2011

The work of Reza Aramesh, on the face of it, may seem to utilize relatively traditional forms of media; namely, sculpture and photography. However, it is important to note that his work has a performative element to it inasmuch as the images we see in both his photographs and the poses of his sculptures have often been restaged by individuals taking their cue – with the artist’s guidance – from newspaper photographs and other visual material.


Curatorial Conundrums – Arab Representation at the 54th Venice Biennale: A roundtable discussion

14 August 2011

Ayman Baalbaki, Al Maw3oud, 2011, installation detail, The Future of a Promise, 2011, oil on canvas and printed fabric.

The 54th Venice Biennial was notable for a number of things, not least the number of Arab artists represented there and, in some instances, the cancellation of shows – for a variety of different reasons –associated with the Middle East and North Africa. In a time of on-going revolt in countries throughout the Middle East, it also came as no surprise that media interest in Arab-related shows was unprecedented. Most of our readers will be familiar with The Future of a Promise, a show curated by Ibraaz’s Associate Editor Lina Lazaar; however, in the following interview we invited three more curators involved in the Venice Biennial to discuss both the problems and the potential to be had in curating contemporary Arab visual culture in the current climate. (more…)

Yinka Shonibare in conversation with Anthony Downey

Fall 2005

Un Ballo in Maschera (A Masked Ball), 2004, color digital video, 32-minute loop. Images courtesy of the artist, James Cohan Gallery, New York, and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

Yinka Shonibare first came to widespread attention through his use of Dutch wax fabric, which he has used both as the ground of his paintings and to clothe his sculptures. This bright and distinctive fabric was originally produced in Dutch Indonesia, where no market was found for it, and subsequently copied and produced by the English, who eventually sold it to West Africans, for whom it became a popular everyday item of clothing. It also, crucially, became a sign of identitarian “authenticity” both in Africa and, later, for Africans in England. A colonial invention, Dutch wax fabric offers itself as both a fake and yet “authentic” sign of Africanness, and Shonibare’s use of it in his paintings and sculptures accentuates a politics of (in)authenticity by simultaneously presenting both the ideal of an “authentic” identity and identity as a “fabrication.” Although he has been producing mostly installation-based work of late, Shonibare is also an accomplished painter, and that is where his practice began in the ’80s. It is also easy to overlook, in all the theorizing about postcoloniality and the politics of identity, the amount of amusement and frivolity he can pack into his work.