From the din of cultural initiatives, exhibitions, symposia, biennials, group shows, and surveys mounted to confront, mediate, meditate, cross-pollinate, advocate, decry, valorize, deny, expose, represent, reconsider, reappraise, reify, or, better yet, to re-unveil what it means to make, show, and sell art in the Middle East, Bidoun magazine responds with NOISE, an exhibition opening December 9 at the Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut.
Between the first generation of post-9/11 cultural survey shows and the reflexive gymnastics of the next generation—which aimed to problematize the legitimacy of yet another regional survey while managing, miraculously, inevitably, to deliver one—Bidoun attempts to close its eyes and tune its ears to the white noise of the white cube, wondering how much it matters which city, region, country, or peoples surround it.
As it happens, it does matter, but perhaps not in ways expected. Rather than curating works to illustrate problems plucked from a readymade critical lexicon, NOISE attempts to let these problems arise from, and give rise to, the works themselves, opening the door to the unexpected, and even to the uninvited. The exhibition’s point of departure is the space itself. Its location in Beirut gives it its critical acoustics, but it retains the conceited platonic generality of any clean post-industrial art space, anywhere in the world.