Curated by Charbel-joseph H. Boutros
Crisis Practice is an exhibition that groups a new generation of Lebanese
artists who were born during the war and who have mainly completed their
art studies abroad, a crucial remoteness that contributed to their
The aim of this exhibition is to show new trends, practices and attitudes within the Lebanese contemporary art scene that do not represent images of war, but are rather haunted by a buried malaise, reflection of an unstable history. The artworks presented in the exhibition Crisis Practice possess a conceptually autonomous presence that harbours a critical and political approach: a diary of absence, an impossible itinerary..., and an accumulation of preoccupations pervaded by a poetic disorder.
Workshop Gallery is a new 14.3m2 contemporary art exhibition space located in the suburbs of Beirut, a platform for emerging Lebanese and international artists.
In Nostalgic Geography, Stéphanie Saadé transposes a familiar trajectory, which she regularly undertook when she lived in Paris, onto the map of Lebanon. The departure point in Paris, her former apartment there, is used to determine the departure point on the map of Lebanon: her current apartment. The trajectory she used to travel in Paris is then exactly reproduced on the Lebanese map, respecting the same direction and scale as the original Parisian one.
A number of obstacles prevent the Parisian path to be crossed in Lebanon: it is interrupted by a river, buildings, or the absence of streets. Furthermore, the end point on the first map, the house of a close friend, is radically different from the one of the second map, which even exceeds the limits of the city of Beirut. By coincidence, the new end point is located very close to the place where the artist lived as a child.
Nostalgic Geography emanates from the personal story of the artist. It echoes in a more general manner the consequences of exile and of return to one’s own country. The attempt to transpose the familiar trajectory undertaken in the country of exile onto the map of the country of origin fails. It evokes the feeling of strangeness that a person can experience in his/her own country, which has become foreign, as well as the feeling of being a foreigner in one’s own country even though one was also a foreigner elsewhere. It reflects the loss that ensues from the impossibility of reproducing the routine and habits developed in the country of adoption in the original country.
Nostalgic Geography could similarly function in another direction, depending on the situation of the artist. It is the first of a series of maps, which the artist is elaborating, that will go back and forth between places and time.
Stéphanie Saadé was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983. From 2005 to 2010, she attended the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and graduated with a Master in Fine Arts. In 2008, and then from 2010 to 2012, she was granted scholarships for China. She was an artist in residency at the PROGR in Bern, Switzerland until the beginning of 2013, and is now based in Beirut.
Stéphanie Saadé’s work has been exhibited in Lebanon at the Beirut Art Center (Exposure 2011), The Running Horse Contemporary Art Space and Minus 5, Palestine (Young Artist of the Year, A.M. Qattan Foundation and Qalandyia International Biennial), Switzerland (PROGR, TRANSFORM), as well as in France and China. It is included in two contemporary art collections, has been published in PEEPING TOM’S Digest #3 Beirut, and will be displayed in upcoming exhibitions at the Beirut Exhibition Center and Grey Noise Gallery Dubai.
Stéphanie Saadé’s work links together her experiences and memories of the countries she has lived or sojourned in. It focuses on the moment when one becomes estranged from one’s surroundings, and the consequences of this shift. It aims to understand the individual and his/her subjectivity, the traces he/she bears and the ones he/she leaves. It also seeks to make the fragmentation that exists behind the apparent integrity of people and things visible.