In the Middle of a Leap into the Void, Letitia Gallery, Beirut, Lebanon / by Sirine Fattouh

Letitia Gallery is pleased to present Sirine Fattouh’s first solo show in the gallery, entitled In the Middle of a Leap into the Void. The show curated by Mayssa Fattouh includes new commissions, light and sound installations, video, sculptures, photography and drawings, around the artist’srelationship with dreams and in between states of the conscious and subconscious.

Through a series of drawings, a medium the artist is exploring for the first time, Fattouh illustrates child-like colorful characters, mostly as androgynous self-portraits, rendering snapshots of her vivid night dreams. The curious scenes led her to associations with artists that have been at the forefront of the conceptual art movement such as Duchamp and Manzoni, which she depicts in humorous homages. “Drawing helped me get over much of my anxiety with the city of Beirut andrecurrent migration movements with my family during the civil war. I never showed thesedrawings and I was very happy that they played an important role in this show” says the artist. The interpretation of dreams is as ancient as first civilizations, with traces from the Babylonians with the Epic of Gilgamesh and The Book of Dreams, still preoccupying science, religion,psychology, philosophy and art. “Seeing Sirine at work on her drawings made me understand that it is the key that ties together the body of her recent work and led us to develop more work in thedirection of a more intimate and personal exhibition” explains the curator.

Across the gallery space are meticulously crafted variations of silver heads, small enough to fit inone’s hand palm, showing an abstracted face, a node to Brancusi’s Sleeping Muse. Fattouh’sSleepers are void of eyes and ears but with a bulging nose and openings for the nostrils and mouth,as a living breathing organism, appearing as peaceful fragile silver spheres containing well guarded secrets.
Facing them Beirut Mutations (2015), a photomontage from assembled film photographs the artist took around her neighborhood, is leaning on a wall. The dominant phantasmagorical black and white image shows an advancing chaotic cityscape consuming itself and its inhabitants with it.Fattouh’s representation of the city stems from a place of ambivalence; having lived her childhoodduring the civil war between Beirut and France and completing her university studies in Paris, the artist returns to the city of her birth, a city that constantly oscillates in contradictions, between softness and violence, euphoria and deep crisis.

A cobalt blue light reverberating from a neon installation with the words Affect/Infect and sounds of a single drum fill the room in an airy presence building an intangible tension floating around. The viewer is probed to relinquish to inner intuition and examining notions of conciliation vs resistance to introspection. The drumming leads us to the end the space behind the landscape,Another Night in Beirut, a video iteration of her previous A Night in Beirut (2006) where the artist filmed a man in a white robe (El Tabbal) walking solitarily in the night. She manages to see him for the first time after years of hearing the sound of his drum interrupting her sleep during her childhood. This new video showing the same but now aged (Tabbal), this time riding a car, acts as a reminder of the acceleration of time and a mediator between the real and fictional spaces we juggle between within the constructed objects of our fantasy.

Throughout this multidisciplinary exhibition Sirine Fattouh invites visitors to drift together with the artist, in the middle of a leap into the void, as a decisive motive to challenge everyday conformism.

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