I, the Undersigned - The People are Demanding
Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) presents the first solo exhibition in the UK by Lebanese artist, theatre director, playwright and actor Rabih Mroué. Influenced by the ongoing conflicts in Lebanon and the Middle East since the Lebanese Civil War in 1990, Mroué looks at issues of historical narration, exclusion and remembrance. For this exhibition he presents new installations alongside key recent works and a live performance.
Mroué's approach brings together critical theatre and performance art, crossing disciplinary boundaries and shifting the role of the artist. Through his work Mroué asks questions such as: ‘how to express truth through fiction?; can artistic subjectivity create a meaningful and ethically grounded exchange with a public divided by religious and political outlooks?, and how can one establish dialogue in a traumatised society?'
A significant aspect of Mroué's work deals with histories of conflict. Using found documents such as newspaper clippings, video footage and photographs, he aims to ‘erase' the weight of these memories by publicly sharing them. References to specific political situations are used to clear the way for alternative futures.
In On Three Posters. Reflections on a video-performance, 2004, Mroué analyses the different film takes rehearsed by one of the first suicide bombers in Lebanon, ‘a secular warrior' against the 1985 Israeli occupation, while recording his final video confession.
Grandfather, Father and Son, 2010, refers to Mroué's family, the wider history of the country and attempts to resist the determinism of history. It brings together material from the library of Mroué's grandfather, a religious scholar turned Communist, who was assassinated; a treatise written by his father during 1982, the year of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, and a story by Rabih Mroué himself, published towards the end of the war in 1989.
Je Veux Voir (I want to see), 2010, an installation made especially for the exhibition, is based on Mroué's experience of co-starring with French actress Catherine Deneuve in a feature film (2008). The film is an account of Deneuve's visit to Beirut during a film festival when she went to see the aftermath of the 2007 Israeli attack on the South of Lebanon. She was accompanied by Mroué for what was his first visit back to his native village since the attack.
I, the Undersigned, curated by Cosmin Costinas, is a project by BAK, basis voor actuele Kunst in Utrecht, where it was on view in spring 2010. A new iteration is presented in collaboration with Iniva (23 March - 14 May 2011) and includes a new commission by the artist. The project will continue to travel to a number of international venues in 2011 and 2012.
Rabih Mroué (born 1967) is an actor, director, playwright, visual artist, and a contributing editor of The Drama Review (TDR) as well as a co-founder and board member of the Beirut Art Center (BAC), Beirut. In 2010 Mroué was awarded an Artist Grant for Theatre/Performance Arts from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, New York and the Spalding Gray Award.
Recent exhibitions include: Performa 09, New York, 2009; 11th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, 2009; Tarjama/Translation, Queens Museum of Art, New York, 2009; Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, 2009; Soft Manipulation - Who is afraid of the new now?, Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg, 2008; and Medium Religion, Center for Art and Media (ZKM), Karlsruhe, 2008. Mroué lives and works in Beirut.