Friday, January 11, 2008

Wonder Beirut

We are attempting to find new ways to create images through evocation, absence, latency. Latency is a state which haunts all of our work. Traditionally, latency is defined as the state of what exists in a non-apparent manner, but which can manifest itself at a given moment. The latent image is the invisible, yet-to-be developed image on an exposed surface.

To this should be added the idea of "the dormant", of slumber, of slumbering, of something that can be awakened. To us, latency is beyond evidence. It is the reminiscence of an image, of knowledge but which can be barely grasped. How can one produce images, export them, move them around, while avoiding cut-and-dried definitions? As image producers, we try to avoid being made use of, or taken over by, propaganda within our country or region, or reduced to a simplifying , often "orientalist", vision. Our work takes into account this possible risk, this breach.

Aware of this situation, we resort to the idea of the anecdotal. Etymologically, the anecdotal appears as something unrevealed, something kept secret, at odds with a certain concept of history.

In our opinion, the anecdotal is not necessarily metaphoric, but rather symptomatic. It is not small history trying to reflect history at large, but a research around sensations, and the re-appropriation of events, like elements of space-time that record a specific, significant moment.

The symptomatic is therefore the possibility of an image, the manifestation of something made visible. A symptomatic image is intimately linked to its context, to a situation and to a history. It is a proposal, an experience. By going back to a personal fact, to a given event, or to "something secret", we refuse the spectacular aspect and the general sociological subject. The symptomatic image is the product of a situation that cannot be reduced to an allegory or a symbol.

The anecdotal is the possibility of approaching our history. If we consider official history as written by the winners, there is another unofficial and subversive space governed by the anecdotal, "the thing kept secret", which perforates that official frame. Latency is about affirming a presence. The anecdotal is the story and development of that presence.

~ from Joana Hadjithomas's and Khalil Joreige's "Wonder Beirut," in *Out of Beirut*, Modern Art Oxford, Manchester, 2006.

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