Oct 01 2019

Beirut Art Center Announces New Artistic Directors

by HG Masters

Left to right: artists HAIG AIVAZIAN and AHMAD GHOSSEIN were appointed co-artistic directors of the Beirut Art Center. Photo courtesy Beirut Art Center.

On September 27, Beirut Art Center (BAC) announced that two artists, Haig Aivazian and Ahmad Ghossein, will be the center’s new co-artistic directors. The two artists will join Rana Nasser-Eddin, the former director of Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut, who was named administrative director in March.

Both Aivazian and Ghossein are Beirut-based artists and cultural figures. Aivazian’s video works and sculptural installations look at the intersection between sports, music, and youth culture in marginalized communities, and state violence and repression. He has shown in major regional and international exhibitions and biennials, and held recent solo shows at Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin (2018) and at Kadist, Paris (2017). Aivazian has also worked as an associate curator on the 10th Sharjah Biennial in 2011.

As an artist and filmmaker, Ghossein creates projects that are similiarly rooted in particular places and times. A recent project on land deeds in southern Lebanon formed the basis for a 2017 exhibition at Marfa’ gallery, “There is No Right or Wrong Here.” His works have been screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and New Museum in New York, Sharjah Art Foundation, Center Pompidou in Paris, and major film festivals in Beirut, Berlin, Dubai, Doha, and Oberhausen. Ghossein is also the co-curator of CO2, an artistic platform in Beirut.

In a statement Ghossein explained the duo’s intentions:“Given its central position in the art scene, our goal is to have the Beirut Art Center be the chain-link tying contemporary art to the wider cultural scene, and to echo the social and political preoccupations of the city. In line with the spirit of our proposal, we want the BAC to be a contributor to the production of cultural knowledge, be an incubator for all local artists and be open to debates in arts and politics.”

Aivazian’s statement notes the unique circumstances of Beirut as a “dark epicenter” and in “downward spiral [that] connects the dots of the Anthropocene, with the global migrant crisis, with repressive state tactics, with modern warfare, with specula-tive capitalism, with exploitative labour.” The duo’s project, according to Aivazian, will be to establish, “How can we gather an arsenal of aesthetic, conceptual, political and relational tools which would allow us —cultural workers, thinkers, activists and others—to imagine and build new ways of being and thinking together?”

In January, BAC issued an open call for the position, after the previous director Marie Muracciole was concluding her five-year program. BAC moved into its new location in April, and will host the Home Works Forum 8 program, organized by Ashkal Alwan, beginning in mid-October.

HG Masters is the deputy editor and deputy publisher of ArtAsiaPacific.

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