Pit Schultz on Fri, 14 Jun 96 00:06 MDT

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nettime: The Nation as ideological constuct etc.. (fwd)

[sorry for double postings]

Date: Wed, 12 Jun 1996 15:14:32 -0400
From: JSalloum@aol.com

The definition of Lebanon has been and continues to be a literal and
metaphorical battleground (even before it's inception), for internal and
external forces struggling over its fluid conception and direction.  A lot of
the more important issues being bandied about on this list have been the
object of itense debate and pervasive albeit spectacularly orientated media
coverage when dealing with the various 'events' in Lebanon.  For those
wanting to view an installation that takes to task the representational and
relative construction of such a state and the research methodology involved,
and if you happen to be in New York (American Fine Arts, June 20-July 13th)
this summer or Montreal (Optica, October31-December 7) or Toronto (YYZ,
November 20-December 14) this fall please drop into my installation, 'Kan Ya
Ma Kan/There was and there was not'.  A brief description follows.


(Kan ya ma Kan) /There was and there was not

This installation, serves to examine the representation of 'Lebanon', and its
history as constructed in our collective and individual psyches.  Lebanon has
been used as a metaphor, as a 'site' serving the real and imaginary for
various 'visitors' throughout its history.  It has been a ground for
continuous claims, discursive texts and acts of re-construction.  It has
become an adjective for the nostalgia of our past and the fears of the
future.  We have come to understand so very little in spite of the massive
amounts of information  we have received regarding Lebanon, that for one to
even mention the name all sorts of images come to mind.  

(Kan ya ma Kan) / There was and there was not   is a transposition of a
working studio and found archive, presenting the 'resources' & artifacts
necessary to re-construct an understanding of the mediated  process inherent
in the definition and perception of a culture.  There are 3 central arenas
the installation continually returns to: i) examining the use of images and
representations of Lebanon & Beirut both in the West and in Lebanon itself;
 ii) focusing on specific points in the history of, & issues in the
representation of Lebanon by various inhabitants (friends, family, cultural
producers, commercial interests, politicians and official representatives),
and visitors (orientalists, journalists, tourists, foreign military,
refugees, diplomatic personnel etc), and; iii) situating my own subjectivity
in relationship to the issues at stake, the positions involved, & the
fixations and instability of identity existing within a diverse culture and
the displacement between cultures.

The installation incorporates arrangements of objects collected  in Lebanon,
photographs, videotape loops, texts  (mine and others'), documents, maps,
other reproductions, light boxes, and archival materials, to call into
question our notions of history and research methodology in the effacement of
histories  and the layers involved in depiction/representation and
understanding  of another culture.  Here the viewer is part of the process,
being forced to make decisions and to take responsibility for re-constructing
 her/his own cultural perceptions.  The installation is set up as a pseudo
scientific research lab/studio paralleling, parodying and exposing my own
productions/ projects in Lebanon while challenging and refiguring the
investigations and immense history of the production of knowledge of Lebanon
 and the Middle East. 

Several other areas I hope the work will probe & extend a type of visual &
textual discourse into, are:   

- the boundaries and transgressions of local and imported popular culture,
  where mimicry, appropriation, and recontextualization collapse and merge into
  cultural forms relating to but deviating and expanding unpredictably from previous

- how and where difference is inscribed by a viewer of one's culture from
  within and from positions marginal and in opposition to each other,

- the act of representation as 'spectacle', as a textual process belying it's
  form of entertainment and,

- the yielding of the repressed in the representation of memory, history and

As well I will consider/critique the use of Lebanon as a product/subject and
as a laboratory (both actual and metaphorical), used by the West in the
testing of new and banned warfare technology, the 'coverage' by writers,
journalists, travelers & 'experts' and as a case study for social/cultural
studies.  This discussion/inquiry would be situated within the contested and
complex terrain of notions of 'post/ex-colonial' conditions, but outside of
it at the same time, or beside it, the sides collapsed in the middle, where
subjectivity is at stake, and where one is always aware of this at one level
and oblivious to it or consumed by it in the confusion of a 'hybridized' or
composite culture on another (level).

(Kan ya ma Kan) / There was and there was not   was recently shown at New
Langton Arts, San Francisco; Western Front, Vancouver;  Kunstlerhaus
Bethanien, Berlin;  the Shedhalle, Zurich; and Update '96, Copenhagen.  After
this exhibition at American Fine Arts, Co., it will be continue to be
exhibited and produced as an ongoing research & exhibition project at other
venues including, Optica Gallery, Montreal and YYZ Gallery, Toronto.

- Jayce Salloum 

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