Archive for March, 2012

Atfal Ahdath : Take Me To This Place: I Want To Do The Memories


Take me to this place: I want to do the memories is a multimedia installation by Beirut-based collective Atfal Ahdath, comprised of Vartan Avakian, Hatem Imam, and Raed Yassin. The work lays out a constellation of forms and reproduction procedures around photographic studio practices in the digital age.

Take me to this place… explores and manipulates the techniques that have fashioned a culture of reproducibility and standardization and accelerated the Arab world’s fascination with fame. Through the use of instruments indispensable to the contemporary popularized studio practice, such as photomontage, the artists explore the potentialities of body doubles and image copies. The installation revolves around a set of digitally manipulated images, broken down and reassembled to include the artists’ faces in the most remote of places. Portraiture becomes an art of disembodied faces and uprooted sceneries, infinitely reproducible and ultimately unconvincing.

The photographs mounted on the walls of the exhibition space were taken in Cairo, Damascus, and Beirut and one has to look closely to discern the subtle variations in composition, an affinity with certain locations, certain poses… Through these comic over-the-top images, one begins to notice the fetishization of success and material wealth inherent in these practices. Men in suits driving convertible cars and fancy hotel lobbies proliferate to give a sense of uneasy aspiration. Some of the photomontage in the installation is completely nonsensical, pushing the limits of an already quirky practice in order to include photographs with doppelgangers and dioramic set-ups with a cardboard island.

Take me to this place: I want to do the memories examines the reproductions in which one literally does and redoes the memories, where individual difference dissolves into a visual detritus of mass-produced templates.