22 September-23 October 2018
Beirut Museum of Art- BeMA
Under the Patronage of the Ministry of Culture
UNESCO, Beirut Office
Venues: Rashid Karami International Fair (by Oscar Niemeyer), Tripoli
(Wednesday-Sunday : 3pm-9pm)
& Citadel of Tripoli (Everyday 8am-4pm)
Participating artists: Rashid Karami International Fair: Edgardo Aragon, Ali Cherri, Jose Davila, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, Lamia Joreige, Fritzia Irizar, Jorge Mendez Blake, Damian Ortega, Marwan Rechmaoui, Gabriel Rico, Stéphanie Saadé, Roy Samaha, Jalal Toufic, Zad Moultaka
Citadel of Tripoli : Rayyane Tabet, Haig Aivazian, Emmanuel Tovar, Pablo Davila
Curated by Karina El Helou (STUDIOCUR/ART)
In partnership with the Anissa Touati Corporation for Mexico
Scenography & Production: Antoine Maalouf Architects
Cycles of Collapsing Progress was a month-long contemporary art exhibition organised by non-profit organisations Beirut Museum of Art- BeMA and STUDIOCUR/ART, at the Rashid Karami International Fair, designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer- located in Tripoli, North Lebanon and at the Citadel of Tripoli.
Through contemporary art, the run-down concrete structures of the Rashid Karami Fair, considered one of the most important legacies of modernist architecture in the Middle East, were placed in dialogue with the citadel, a monument to layers of history. The two locations current states provoked reflections, in the context of the exhibition, on cyclical time and the cycles of collapse.
The notion of cyclical time, common to past civilizations, is now considered archaic, for according to Romanian intellectual Mircea Eliade, modern societies have a linear understanding of time. This contemporary understanding considers progress as its only possible outcome and therefore does not take into account repeated cycles of collapse.
The contemplation of the cyclical life and death of civilisations can be traced back to the medieval Tunisian-born historian Ibn Khaldoun, who suggested that historical cycles function in a loop, starting as Umran Badaoui (bedouin civilisation) evolving into Umran Hadari (urban civilisation) before collapsing. Recent studies by American historian Joseph Tainter on the collapse of complex societies, such as the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Mayans, show that there are several possible causes for their downfall, including natural disasters, wars, and epidemics. But one theory can be singled out. When a society becomes highly stratified, it is more likely to fall, as the cost of maintaining it is high.
In the post-modern world (although the sociologist Bruno Latour has suggested in the title of his book that ‘we have never been modern’) scientists affirm that since the beginning of the anthropocene era, our future decline will be caused by an impending ecological disaster due to global warming. If human beings, nature, and even history function cyclically, it’s possible to think about the limits of progress and the costs that entails.
The exhibition presented 20 projects in total, including 11 commissioned artworks as well as 9 selected works by artists from Lebanon and Mexico. The meeting of these two art scenes allowed for the exchange of geographical perspectives on the theme. This project included residencies in Beirut by Edgardo Aragon, Fritzia Irizar and Gabriel Rico at BAR-Beirut Art Residency, and in Guadalajara by Marwan Rechmaoui and Stephanie Saadé at PAOS GDL residency.