Submission to #aishtibythesea competition, concept and photomontage by roula sorour, fashion design by Blanka Matragi
Beirut is amazing! Despite its tiny size, galleries and art spaces keep mushrooming left right and center. The latest addition will be the Aishti Foundation designed by David Adjave.
Aishti launched a #aishtibythesea competition to promote it.I immediately jumped to the occasion and decided to collaborate with the very talented Blanca Matragi by creating these photomontages. I took inspiration from Beirut , from Aishti’s campaign and from my last visit to the beirut national museum . The first is very playful and as the inspiration is about the sea i chose phoenician artifacts. I also used a photo of soap bubbles taken at the science museum in London. For those who have kids this is a show not to be missed! The second is inspired by the lovely lebanese spirit of positivity and resilience especially during difficult times including the present trash crisis. Lebanese are keeping their fingers crossed for politicians to come to an agreement to solve the issue. The whole country is threatened to disappear under loads of trash including the beautiful architecture designed by David Adjave!!
Submission to aishtibythesea competition ,concept and photomontage by roula sorour, fashion design by Blanka Matragi
Life goes on !despite trash taking over the city!
Roula Sorour , The Gatekeepers, Dyassec mounted print, 283x76cm
In a period of enviromental crisis. one might, at first sight, think this work is about the environment, pollution and our oceans , the disruption of the natural cycle in nature …
However I only drew my inspiration from the power of nature in order to approach a more insidious form of power , that of the gatekeepers and their tremendous control of the world we live in.
From Cerber to the modern age ones, gatekeepers have always existed, and are everywhere censoring scientists journalists and even artists for saying an inconveniant truth.
They come in different shapes forms and colors,can be visible or transparent , and keep evolving! They belong to different worlds from the digital algorithmical editing of the web ( Eli Pariser’s ted talk) to the cultural and everything in between .
Like sharks they decide who/what is to be made visible or to disappear…
Do I have the right to expose a dad who was too busy interacting with friends on his mobile and seemed to be ignoring completely his kid over a sunday lunch. What if it was a one off? Quickly I took a picture , went to the father ,told him am an artist and asked for his permission to use it. He smiled and told me please go ahead take more if you need.I went back to my table and took a few more but the first picture was the best.
If he knew the photo would be submitted to familydom I am sure he would not have given me the permission! I had in mind to expose the impact of social media and indirectly photography on the family. Photo sharing is a double edged sword that can drive people closer or further apart depending on how you use it.
Back home I looked at the picture and felt a bit mean , why do I need to cast a light on this particular family ?Arent’ we all somehow guilty of that same crime,?Don’t we all fall sometimes into the trap of giving more attention to our virtual than real family ? myself included! I needed to expose that problem and not this dad in particular. And so I decided I had to manipulate the photo in such a way as to make it unrecognisable for anyone to guess who is in it or where it was taken.
This is the first of a new serie that will be based on this one picture I took that sunday afternoon.
A competition I have launched to promote a kid’s book I have illustrated, and my online store kotinga, selling tee shirts, mugs,ipad cover,bags etc showing the characters of the book. Unfortunatly the project fell through and I had to forget about both, my illustrations and the online shop ! I don’t regret it , I learned a lot, it was great fun but it was a huge disappointment.
Page five of a children’s book I have illustrated.
Homage aux victimes de Charlie Hebdo.Ceci n’est pas une contradiction.Vive la France , vive la liberté et vive le respect pour toutes les religions.
I am totally for freedom I just couldn’t help asking myself that day”Would a Blasphemy law make the world safer ?”
Trisha Donnelly’s exhibition showing at the serpentine gallery, is very vague, mysterious and immediately takes the viewer to a different dimension. It also keeps changing throughout the day. Abstract Black and white stills that look like forensic evidence x-rays, videos projected on the walls, flowers, water ripples, forests, and a river that has a beautiful bronze statue of a young boy. Next door, a couple of stone blocks carved with parallel lines. An opening in one column reveals the original brick structure of the walls (walls that belonged to what used to be the tea room for Kensington Gardens before morphing into a gallery) and walls that seem to invite you to rip them off , an invitation perhaps to look deeper beyond the material world, or maybe go back to the origins, to look for what’s hidden. Plenty of white light and silence contribute to immediately grab the viewer’s attention and leave the person wondering what exactly is going on and why the usual explanation on the walls, which gives a glimpse of the artist’s thought process, was missing. The most interesting feature of the exhibition was the open door. The back door which normally is close , was wide open, letting in plenty of light and air and all of a sudden, it seemed to me this whole exhibition is much less hermetic than it seemed at first sight. Now there were 2 entrances to the gallery, was the artist trying to attract a new kind of public by making the gallery more accessible and welcoming to park visitors who usually never enter the gallery? or maybe trying to alter the way one experiences this space?
Suddenly music started playing resonating and filling the space with a sense of extreme lightness. So it occurred to me that maybe the artist needed the help of the music and a door that lets in plenty of light and air, to attract the viewers like a magnet and keep them mesmerized by the magic in the air , forcing them to stay longer in the space, in the hope that they might finally get the mysterious message.
Having given up on trying to derive my own interpretation i asked around the gallery staff and the answer was unanimous. The artist doesn’t like to talk about her work ( I immediately smiled and thought i was similar to her in that respect). It seems she intentionally didn’t want any text on the walls. So it immediately hit me , evasion is what this whole exhibition is all about and now the open door and he gripping music make more sense.
As i am leaving the gallery, i took a copy of the exhibition’s leaflet, read it and immediately had the confirmation that my guess was right. Evasion is one of the themes, but to my surprise transmission too. Transmission? This needs another visit and so i decided to revisit the serpentine’s gallery again the following day. Organ music was playing this time and my eyes fell immediately on the parallel lines of the block in front of me. All of a sudden the block became a musical instrument , and it felt like the music was coming out of it!! How was transmission related to that?
Ideas and feelings are transmitted through music, is that all there is to it? I am sure there is more. So again I asked the same question I asked the day before :any idea what the show is about? And to my surprise a young lady explained something that was not mentioned in the brochure. It seems the artist did lots of research about all religions and wanted to create a space that was kind of a waiting room between two worlds! What about transmission? And suddenly a creepy track starts playing sounding like a radio or TV interference .
Immediately I became immersed in a sci fi movie where aliens were trying to communicate with humans. It occurred to me that maybe there is an app similar to shazam , where one presses a button and suddenly those interferences are translated into a text that reveals a dark secret. I wanted so much to go again a third time at least because obviously an exhibition which is about evasion let alone transmission cannot be grasped in one single session. Whether it is art flirting with intelligence or higher intelligence the show leaves you in suspension mode .