Kunsthal Extra City presents Rabih Mroué: Images Mon Amour from November 26, 2022 to April 16, 2023.
Images Mon Amour is the first solo show in Belgium for Lebanese multidisciplinary artist Rabih Mroué (Lebanon, 1967).
Mroué’s involved art practice investigates how images of conflict are exploited in the media and how they shape our perspectives. He gives an autobiographical and media-critical view of the world through enormous video works, intimate sketches, sound pieces, and collages of newspaper clippings.
Kunsthal Extra City is located in an old Dominican church. In this architectural space, the spectacular visual installation Images Mon Amour takes center stage. This survey exhibition includes a dozen works, including Eye vs Eye, which was on display at documenta (13), as well as three new productions. Mroué’s approachable work begins with difficult topics in the Middle East and explains them so that they are broadly understood. In doing so, the artist raises fundamental questions about the author’s position and presents a case for a pluralistic interpretation of history.
Mroué is most known in Belgium as a theatrical director and for his innovative non-academic lecture performances, although his practice is far broader and deeply autobiographical. He grew up in Lebanon throughout the civil war, and although living in Berlin since 2013, his work and participation remain deeply rooted in the country. For example, he co-founded the Beirut Art Center and spent fifteen years as a writer and director for a Lebanese television station. This fueled his interest in incorporating images from the news and the media in general.
“The past is never dead; it is not even past,” William Faulkner wrote in his masterpiece Requiem for a Nun. Mroué has been plagued by this idea for years. Many of his pieces are based on a collection of hundreds of newspapers published between 2006 and 2016, which he steadily accumulated. Newspapers from Lebanon, Syria, and other Middle Eastern countries, including coverage of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, the Arab Spring, and the war in Syria that followed.
Mroué’s art is constantly centered on the media’s portrayal of the world. He complements his newspaper clippings archive with YouTube clips of citizen journalists, military drone footage, and so on. His study explores collective memories as well as collective amnesia. The exhibition’s title alludes to the 1959 film Hiroshima Mon Amour, directed by Alain Resnais and written by Marguerite Duras. Mroué, like this film, criticizes the one-sided nature of historiography and redefines the viewer’s place within it.