Beirut: Behind the massive rustic gate of the industrial museum MACAM,60 international artists joined forces to celebrate with their artworks the 2nd Biennale of Contemporary Art in Lebanon on September 14,2019.
Within the topic of universal data, the pieces explored the interaction and use of the digitalized universe.
“Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created; that’s 2,500,000,000,000,000,000 bytes of data. I was wondering about how much we use technology and how fast we get used to it,” said Sara Schaub, curator of the exhibition.
She added: “It’s a vast universe; we practically do everything online now. We should think about what’s happening around us and about where we are going. The exhibition unravels the positive and negative impact of universal data on humanity and every observer can form his own opinion.”
The artists, who are from over twenty nationalities, reflected on contemporary topics, such as: access to information, digital identity, freedom of expression and online communities. The featured artworks challenged the visitors’ perspectives on access to universal data, making it more tangible through art installations, paintings, sculptures, videos, digital and live performance art.
Bilal Alame and Joanna Zabielska, who live in Vienna, created a piece that showcases an inflated globe-shaped bubble where people sit and see a collage illustrating various fake maps and stories of Beirut. After conducting interviews from districts that are not commonly frequented by Beirutis, the two artists decided to tackle the issue of google maps which prevents people from getting lost, making them avoid face to face human interactions.
“About a billion people use Google maps every month and there are about a billion searches a day. It is a manifestation of the human desire to control the uncontrollable city. Getting lost in the city may be a great way to learn the social and built up environment,” Alame indicated.
“The importance of this exhibition is raising awareness and broadening the horizons. I’m proud to come back to my country where contemporary art is given its scene,” he added.
Every piece in the exhibition offered visitors a unique experience that took them on an artistic ride. They roamed around the museum, which was a roller coaster of exciting masterpieces, taking pictures and discussing their views. Caressed by Alita’s hilltop’s fresh air where the museum is located, they sipped on refreshing drinks and enjoyed sumptuous bites.
“I’ve seen beautiful pieces owned by the Ministry of Culture covered in humidity and dirt in a basement. Now, they are trying to take them up and protect them. This exhibition made my eye twinkle for it is avant-garde and it’s nice to see a private museum promoting Lebanese art even though this should be done by the state,” said Bassam Lahoud, a professor at LAU.
In 2013, MACAM was created as a non-profit organization to promote the memory of art in Lebanon, documenting and preserving it for the present and future generations. MACAM (Modern and Contemporary Art Museum) holds a rich archive of more than 1500 books on Lebanese art and 500 files about Lebanese artists.
The museum’s creator Cezar Nammour noted the upcoming plans.
“In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, artists have been asked to reflect on how these articles apply (if at all) in this new digital era and on how access to data has influenced our perception of the world,” he explained.
He added: “As for our upcoming plans, a 60-meter long wall will be dedicated to showcase international artists’ graffitis which tackle the human rights subject. We decided to crown this year as the ‘Human Rights Year’ where we will be doing many activities related to this topic,” Nammour told Annahar.
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