On 7 June 2016 Jeu de Paume opened an exhibition by Lebanese artistic team Hadjithomas and Joreige reflecting work dating from the 1990s to the present.

The current exhibition “Se Souvenir de la Lumière” (Remembering the light) presents Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige’s investigations into temporality, the construction of history and imagination, and the ways in which images persist despite the oppression of violence and war.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'Équivalences du projet Archéologie de notre regard', 1997, 3 tirages photographiques sur Dibond. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘Equivalencies of the Archeology of Our Regard Project’, 1997, 3 photographic prints on Dibond. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

The self-taught, artistic duo, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (b. 1969, Beirut) have a collective oeuvre, which includes film, documentary, photography and installation. As stated in the exhibition press release:

Self-taught, they became filmmakers and artists out of necessity in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil wars. Their very personal search, close to their encounters, leads them to explore the sphere of the visible and the absence, feeding a fascinating back and forth between life and fiction. Over fifteen years, their artistic films and works produced from personal or political records, developing stories kept secret stories facing the dominant story. They are interested in the emergence of the individual in Community companies and the difficulty of living a present.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'Images Latentes', 3e partie du projet Wonder Beirut, 1997-2006, 3 épreuves chromogènes sous Diasec mat montées sur châssis aluminium et 38 épreuves numériques plastifiées montées sur aluminium. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘Images Latentes’ (Latent images), 3rd part of Project Wonder Beirut, 1997-2006, 3 chromogenic prints on Diasec matte mounted on aluminium and 38 plastic digital prints mounted on aluminum chassis. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

This current exhibition at Jeu de Paume in Paris, “Se souvenir de la lumière” (Remembering the Light) includes works spanning from the 1990s to the present day and as the press release states, “is a reflection on the issues of representation in contemporary societies”. The exhibition contains two new works, Se souvenir de la lumière, co-produced by Sharjah Art Foundation, and ISMYRNE co-produced by Jeu de Paume and Sharjah Art Foundation.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'Géométrie de l’espace', 2014, Acier oxydé étiré, dessins muraux, livre. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘Géométrie de l’Espace’ (Geometry of space), 2014, oxidised steel, wall drawings, book. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'Faces (detail)' 2009, 42 tirages photographiques contrecollés sur aluminium. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘Faces’ (detail), 2009, 42 photographic prints laminated on aluminium. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

“Se Souvenir de la Lumière” is organised into five chapters representing the artists’ investigations into the image: how are images affected by violence and war? How to embody the invisible through the latency of images, and their persistence? How can images deflect or displace the imaginary and the gaze? Can virtual images taken from the internet become the rumours of the world? Finally, how to situate the poetry in opposition to the chaos of today’s world?

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, '2e partie de The Lebanese Rocket Society', 2011, 32 impressions numériques, chacune pliée en 32 fois et montée sur bois. Coproduction Sharjah Biennial 10. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘2e Partie de The Lebanese Rocket Society’, 2011, 32 digital prints each folded 32 times and mounted on wood. Coproduction Sharjah Biennial 10. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

The latent potential of images is a particular characteristic towards which the artists give much attention. The press release also explains:

Their works have attempted to show what exists without being immediately visible. They have worked a lot with illustrations of latency in their artistic approach as well as in their filmic approach. “Latency, is the state that exists in an unrelated manner, but which may at any time be manifested,” explain the artists.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'ISMYRNE', 2016, Vidéo HD, couleur, son, durée : 50 minutes. Coproduction Jeu de Paume, Paris et Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘ISMYRNE’, 2016, HD Video, colour, sound, 50 minutes. Coproduction Jeu de Paume, Paris and Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

These questions form the background of Hadjithomas and Joreige’s work and thus a part of their research and preparatory process necessitates engagement with political and historical archives, as well as personal and familial stories. Their concern, however, is the present, and they view an engagement with the past as a means to better understand the current day.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 2016 2 vidéos HD, color, sound, 8 min. Coproduction Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 2016, 2 HD videos, colour, sound, 8m:00s. Coproduction Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige 'Le Cercle de confusion', 1997, Tirage photographique découpé en 3,000 fragments tamponnés et numérotés sur miroir. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige ‘Le Cercle de Confusion’, 1997, photographic prints cut into 3,000 stamped and numbered on mirrors. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

Understandably Beirut, their hometown, and by extension Lebanon is a primary site for their field work. In the work, Le Cercle de Confusion (The Circle of Confusion), the image reveals an aerial view of Beirut cut into 3,000 photographic fragments. On the reverse side of each fragment the phrase “Beirut does not exist.” is written. The viewer is invited to take one of the fragments, and underneath each fragment is a small mirror which shows the image of the viewer, and eventually, when all are removed, the surrounding installation. This work speaks of a city in a constant state of flux. It is neither what it appears, nor what is reflected.

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'Images rémanentes', 2004, Film super-8 transféré sur DVD, durée : 3 min. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘Images Rémanentes’, 2004, Super-8 film transferred to DVD, 3m:00s. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc.

Both artists have been personally touched by the political events of Lebanon’s recent past. In 1985 Joreige’s uncle was taken during the civil war, and he is still a part of the 17,000 Lebanese citizens who disappeared during this period of unrest. In 2001 Hadjithomas and Joreige found the personal archive belonging to Joreige’s uncle. Among the various documents and images, they identified a “latent film”. This Super-8 film was undeveloped and had survived the ravages of the war. The resultant image became the work Images Rémanentes (Persistent Images).

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, 'La Rumeur du monde', 2014, 14 à 26 écrans, dispositif sonores de 40 à 100 enceintes, 38 vidéos HD, couleur, son, durées variables. Coproduction Villa Arson, Nice, HOME, Manchester et MIT List Visual Arts Center for Cambridge and Futurum. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige, ‘La Rumeur du monde’, 2014, 14 to 26 screens, sound devices from 40 to 100 speakers, 38 HD videos, colour, sound, duration variable. Co-production Villa Arson, Nice, HOME, Manchester et MIT List Visual Arts Center for Cambridge and Futurum. © Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige. Galerie In Situ — fabienne leclerc

In addressing the aforementioned questions contextualised within the recent historical realities of Lebanon and its political unrest, Hadjithomas and Joreige’s work constitutes a multi sensory, interactive experience. With an acute awareness of how the present can influence one’s understanding of the past, Hadjithomas and Joreige have put forth work that like latent images possesses a potential not yet manifested. The audience experiences installations that play with notions of space but also history and temporality, with a view towards initiating an active and critical relationship with the image in the now.

Negarra A. Kudumu

1192

Related topics: Lebanese artists, photography, film, museum shows, events in Paris

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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