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

Dates: September 22nd, 2018 to October 22nd, 2018 

Cycles of Collapsing Progress was a month-long contemporary art exhibition organised by non-profit organisations BeMA and STUDIOCUR/ART. It tookplace at the Rashid Karami International Fair, designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer- located in Tripoli, North Lebanon and at the Citadel of Tripoli.

Curatorial Statement

The concrete run-down structures of the Fair, considered as one of the most important legacy of modern architecture in the Middle East, will be in dialogue through contemporary art, with the citadel, a monument to the layers of history. The locations current states provoked reflection, 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 the only possible outcome and therefore does not take into account repeated cycles of collapse.

The contemplation of the 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, like the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Mayas, show 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 aftermath of the collapse of modernism or as Bruno Latour actually suggested we have never been modern, scientists affirm that since 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 - functions cyclically, it is possible to think about the limits of progress and the cost that entails.

The exhibition presents 18 projects in total, including 8 commissioned artworks along 10 produced works by artists from Lebanon and Mexico. The meeting of the two scenes allows the exchange of geographical perspectives on the theme. This project includes residencies in Beirut (BAR-Beirut Art Residency) and Guadalajara (PAOS GDL).

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». 

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, Emanuel Tovar, Pablo Davila

For Cycles of Collapsing Progress' Official Website, click here.
For the Photo Album, click  here.