The August Show
Where Here Is Elsewhere
August 29 – September 24, 2018
The Beirut Art Residency is pleased to present Nadine El Khoury as the featured artist of the 2018 August Show. In partnership with SGBL, the aim of the August Show is to support the production and development of the work of an emerging Lebanese artist through an exhibition held at Beirut Art Residency’s Project Space. This year, El Khoury will transform the space to become a historical depiction of the Lebanese coast and its drastic transformations formed organically or artificially. Her work is based on observations of the seaside and an extensive visual and archival research on the subject.
Taking the Ottoman Empire rule (1516 -1918) as the starting point to this project and spanning over 10 distinct time periods. A visual archive is formed, in the form of a grid, by analysing 12 different areas on the coast over this timeline. Inspired by Beirut's urbanism and cultural history, each site and time brings forth its own narrative. The original images come from different archives such as the Fouad Debbas Collection and the Arab Image Foundation, in addition to found drone images taken off the Internet. These photos undergo an image transfer technique, similar to Max Ernest’s frottage technique, transforming the archival images or “found documents” into marks. The historic development of photography as an ethnographic and surveillance tool is at the crux of the work. The artist then re-imagines the compiled archive by physically recreating it. Expanding on her analysis of the coast, El Khoury also showcases oil paintings, a study of color and geography elaborating on the evolution of color in parallel to the development of photography. The tints of color reflect the shift from black and white film photography, hand coloring to the contemporary digitization of the image.
The conceptual intent of these drawings is suggestive of the war-marked landscape of Beirut and the rest of Lebanon. The divergence of the organic with defined shapes – abstracting the original, breaking the frame are visual strategies alluding to the subjectivity of particularly lived experiences and the processes of meaning making. The pseudo-scientific process of studying and mapping the coast through familiar images, allows for a precise understanding of its change while forging a new horizon, an abstraction of representations of the shore which constructs our imaginary of the historical and contemporary coast of Lebanon.
In the context of Beirut, the layers of complexity from political, social to economical are majorly shaping the landscape today. The project imparts on a unique personal perspective on what is a rigid artistic tradition of landscapes and seascapes. Questioning the ownership of the painted landscape as much as the land itself, the use of archival images becomes a tool in forging an understanding of this land - familiarizing the distant and distancing the familiar.
Nadine El-Khoury (b. 1992) lives and works in Beirut. She holds a BFA in Studio Arts and Art history from Concordia University, Montreal. She completed the Homework Space Program at Ashkal Alwan 2016-2017. Her works revolves around the juxtapositions of architecture, time, home, displacement and memory. Through experimentation and extensive research El-Khoury’s practice explores themes of urbanization through various media and visual languages.