In October 2019, I traveled from Amsterdam to Beirut to visit the eighth edition of Home Works, a biennial on cultural practices in Lebanon, organized by Beirut-based institution Ashkal Alwan. As the opening reception drew to a close, the streets filled with protestors who demanded political reform, the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the improvement of Lebanon’s failing public infrastructure, and solutions to the country’s soaring debt and ongoing economic crisis. At the moment when the protests filled the city of Beirut, on October 17, I was visiting the solo exhibition The Distance Between your Eyes and the Sun by Charbel-joseph H. Boutros at Beirut Art Center. Back then, no one could have predicted that this was the only day the exhibition could be open. During the week’s protests, Ashkhal Alwan postponed the exhibitions, public lectures, and performances, and eventually, they canceled the entire edition of Home Works. In their public announcement, they stated that cultural institutions are not isolated from “civic, political, economic, and ideological contexts, but rather shaped as a result of and in response to historical events and their repercussions.” Read more
The exhibition From the Volcano to the Sea at Rongwrong explores the archive of the Italian feminist collective Le Nemesiache, active in Naples in the 1970s and 1980s. Giulia Damiani, curator and research fellow of art organization If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want to Be Part of Your Revolution in Amsterdam, translated the group’s practice in dialogue with Arnisa Zeqo, director of Rongwrong, and curator Sara Giannini (If I Can’t Dance), making the archive public for the first time.
Entering the exhibition space, I receive a stamp with the logo of Le Nemesiache on a hand-out. It gives me a nostalgic feeling, reminiscent of entering a nightclub, where you receive a stamp on your hand to signify that you’ve been granted access. Receiving the stamp by ‘host’ Arnisa Zeqo, director of Rongwrong in Amsterdam, creates a performative dimension that lingers during the rest of my visit. Read more