WHITE WALL, organized at Beirut Art Center in association with Fondation Saradar and a team of three curators, is an exhibition in which one of the main objectives is to give new impetus to the Lebanese graffiti scene. Fifteen international artists, from Europe, North America, South America, together with artists from Egypt and Lebanon, with diverse visions and street art practices, have been invited to share their passion and expertise. Beirut Art Center will host an exhibition, while the show will also spread over the streets of Beirut, creating a dynamic interaction between the exhibition’s venue and the city. Eighteen Lebanon-based artists- the figureheads of the Lebanese street art and graffiti scene- will participate in the various WHITE WALL activities and outdoor interventions throughout Beirut.
Since the Civil War, public space in Lebanon had been occupied by inscriptions and stencils related to war and sectarian politics. Western-style graffiti appeared infrequently as of the mid-1990s. It was not until 2005 that a new scene emerged, taking on the task to create a uniquely Lebanese style of this art form. This scene is now burgeoning and the streets of Beirut have witnessed the birth of new artists mixing caustic stencils, western influences and Arabic graffiti. These interventions contrasted with public expectations, since they promoted unity over division and maintained a humorous and often critical look at Lebanese society.
One of the key issues raised by this event is to understand how it is possible to bring an inherently outdoor and accessible art to an indoor space like Beirut Art Center, without betraying the idiosyncrasy of this art. While the first graffiti exhibition was already held in 1976 in New York City, this remains a challenge until today. The title, WHITE WALL, confronts the white walls of the galleries with the streets of the city, a challenging prospect for a street artist.
This project is curated by:
Charles Vallaud aka Prime (France) has been love with graffiti since his early childhood. Prime left Toulouse for Beirut in February 2005 on a journey that was supposed to last a few months; it lasted until July 2007. This is when he met Siska and became part of the re-awakening of the Lebanese graffiti scene and its present boom. A graphic designer and graffiti artist, he seeks other ways to express the essence of graffiti.
Siska (Lebanon) was a member of the hip-hop crew ‘Kitaa Beyroute’. He is a filmmaker and visual artist who pays special attention to the street art movement. Together with his friend Prime they wrote bayrūt mā bitmūt (Beirut never dies) a graffiti in arabic in Beirut during the war of summer 2006. Siska will show a new work in the exhibition.
Don Karl aka Stone (Germany) is a cultural activist, graffiti writer and art book publisher. He started to write graffiti in 1983 and published his first book on train writing in 1986. Many books and articles have followed since. He has participated in and curated various international urban art exhibitions and projects, such as Cubabrasil (cubabrasil.net) or Arabic Graffiti. Don Karl runs the publishing house ‘From Here To Fame’ and the ‘Common Ground Gallery’ in Berlin.
Tania Helou (Lebanon) is Fondation Saradar General Manager since 2001. She has dedicated her Master’s degree thesis (Saint-Joseph University, Beirut) to a socio-political analysis of the graffiti of the Lebanese war (1975-1982) and has constituted a large collection of Lebanese graffiti since 1975.
- Soer by Reso, Jisr el Wati, Beirut. 2012