Cycles of Collapsing Progress

Cycles of Collapsing Progress - a Contemporary Art Exhibition in Tripoli


Curator: Karina El Helou (STUDIOCUR/ART)
In partnership with: Anissa Touati Corporation for Mexico

Expected date: September 22nd, 2018

This exhibition is in three parts:

Collapse of Modernism
Cycles of Nature
Socio-Historical Cycles

The exhibition revolves around the notions of cycles, cyclical time, and the destruction and reconstruction of civilisations. Several philosophical, geological, and archaeological studies have attempted to explain the natural and historical cycles punctuating our existence. The concept of cyclical time, common in past civilisations, is now considered to be archaic, as modern societies have a linear understanding of time. The contemporary understanding of time, as linear, considers progress as its only possible outcome and therefore does not take the repeating collapse cycles into account. The contemplation of the life and death of civilisations can be traced back to the medieval historian Ibn Khaldoun, who wrote ‘from its inception, the living organism contains the germs of death’. Studies by the historian Tainter on the collapse of complex societies, such as Egyptian, Greek and Mayan cultures, showed that there are several possible theories and causes for this downfall. Natural disasters, wars, and epidemics are some of them, but one theory of sociological nature can be singled out: when a society becomes highly stratified, it is more likely to collapse, as the costs to maintain it are too high. If everything functions cyclically, human beings, nature and even history, what are the limits of progress and what would be the cost of it.

The exhibition will present 12 newly commissioned works along with a selection of produced works by artists from Lebanon and Mexico reflecting on the past, present and future of human, natural and political cycles.This project is organised in collaboration with residencies in Lebanon and Mexico (BAR and PAOS).
The artworks will be displayed at the Rashid Karami Fair, a famous example of modern architecture in Lebanon, built by Oscar Niemeyer. The fair was partially achieved in 1974 but then abandoned as a result of the Lebanese Civil War, and its consequential economical crisis and Syrian occupation . Initially developped under Fouad Chehab’s mandate in 1962, this project, which included three museums and an experimental theatre, became a utopian symbol for the then new Lebanese state. Today, its raw structures stand awaiting new beginnings, after having survived the many tumultuous episodes the country went through.

Karina El Helou

Curator's Short Bio:

 Karina El Helou b. 1984 has an MA in Art History from Sorbonne University, Paris and attended Ecole du Louvre as well as Met Penninghen art school. She curated several exhibitions around the world including Marc Riboud in Moscow, «The Silent Echo» group exhibition (Baalbek Museum) and has worked as an art collection manager at Cartier Foundation and as a tutor at Sothebys Institute of Art (London). She founded the non-profit curatorial platform STUDIOCUR/ART in 2015 (Paris) collaborating with artists, curators and academics.

Partner Curator's Short Bio:

Anissa Touati b. 1982 is an exhibition maker, independent curator and Chalet Society’s co-director based between Mexico and France. Touati has realized numerous exhibitions in unusual places from public spaces, disused buildings to outdoor sites. She forges links and interactions between artists and the exhibition space. Touati also independently co-organized exhibitions at galleries such as «¿Cómo te voy a olvidar? « at Galerie Perrotin (Paris), and organized at OMR Gallery «Made by 4 hands» and at institutions such as Anauacali Museum, Mexico city, the solo show of Jesper Just titled «Coordenadas».