Tuesday, 26 August 2014

New VOLUME website!!!!


Saturday, 10 May 2014

The dates

We are proud to announce that the public presentation of VOLUME will take place in Beirut September 11-21. Please check back here for more details about the program.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Volume Wins Prestigious Grant

Vision Forum's partner 98weeks wins a grant from Prince Claus Fund in the Netherlands to develop the Volume project - congratulations!!!!

 For more information about the ongoing workshop click here.

Friday, 1 November 2013

VOLUME - Schedule Workshop November 5-9, 2013

Schedule Workshop November 5-9, 2013

First day, Tuesday
5th November

09.00 – 12.00: Meeting at 98weeks. General introductions.
12.00 – 14.00: Lunch
14.00 – 15.00 Meeting at Bachoura’s library with presentation of Antoine Boulad on Assabil
15.00 – 18.00: Visit of the other two libraries
20:00: Dinner

Second day, Wednesday
6th November

10.30 – 12.00: Visit to the National Library Archive and following talk.
15.00 – 19.00: First workshop round with artists in 3 smaller groups.
19:30: Skype talk with Beatrice Catanzaro (and maybe Lara Khalidi) about the project "Needle in the Binding" at the Khalidi library in Jerusalem

Third day, Thursday
7th November

11.00 – 13.00: Second workshop round by artists in smaller groups
16.00 – 18.00: Visit of Dawawine, talk by Sara Sehnaoui

Fourth day, Friday
8th November

10.00 – 12.00 Walk/Talk with Rani Al Rajjii to explore the libraries’ neighboorhoods
15.00 – 18.00 Third workshop round by artists in smaller groups (different groupings)
19.00: Talk by Nadia Bou Ali

Fifth day, Saturday
9th November

10.00 – 17.00: Geitawi Library. Collective discussions on ideas/ proposals/suggestions for the libraries

Saturday, 12 October 2013

First Working Session in Beirut

The Volume group will meet in Beirut November 4-10, 2013. The events are organised by our partners 98weeks and Sara Giannini. The artists will also get to know the Assabil libraries and their staff. Please check back here for more details - this session will be private and will set up the parameters for future work.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The VOLUME Project

The VOLUME Project is a collaboration between Vision Forum, 98weeks and the Assabil Association and is curated by Sara Giannini together with 98weeks. Ten artists, both European and Lebanese, are invited to develop artworks, interventions and performances for Assabil's three municipal libraries in Beirut. The aim of the project is to investigate the potential of libraries as sites for artistic creation and production of knowledge as well as for the formation of a dialogic and critical dimension. Enriched by new activities and "site-specific volumes” the library will be transformed into a participative forum that counteracts the disappearance of a true public dimension in the city. The artists are commissioned to develop a contribution to a specific library according to its location, collection history, and current use. While the projects will be individual, the artists will form small sub-groups and are encouraged to experiment with a more collaborative approach. This aims to implement poetic aspects in the library that are textual, but also visual, conceptual or performance-based.

*How everything started
The idea of the project stemmed in a cold afternoon of January 2012 from a discussion among Per Huttner (Vision Forum director), Sara Giannini (curator affiliated to Vision Forum) and visual artist Mounira Al Solh in a Turkish restaurant in Amsterdam. The three had previously met in Beirut on the occasion of another Vision Forum project (OuUnPo: Quantum Fluctuations in a Synechdochic Universe), during which Al Solh had presented her NOA (Not Only Arabic) Magazine. Huttner, Al Solh and Giannini started a dialogue that intertwined the library universalistic utopia with the issues and methodologies propelled by the magazine: a series of collaborative and performative gestures recollected under printed form. An object-shape which is not to be considered as definitive and enclosed but acts as a further trigger for a dialogic and performative dimension with the reader. NOA is therefore both mentor of and active player in the project as its 3rd upcoming issue is now approaching the variegated universe of language. As part of her current research Al Solh initiated conversation with and involved the Assabil Association to be part of the project. Linking visual art to language and the printed world the group has then naturally engaged in a conversation with Marwa and Mirene Arsanios of 98weeks.

* Theoretical background
After two decades of civil war (1975-1990) contemporary Lebanon is a republic that culturally, ethnically and politically mirrors sectarian fragmentation. In the present days, eighteen recognized religious communities shape the country’s social, political and economical life. The fragmentation also provokes disparities in the access to education, information and knowledge. The situation of the country embodies a plurality of identities and narratives that leads for instance to the impossibility of writing one unified Lebanese contemporary history. Since the independence in 1948, each community writes and promotes its own version, with schools also following the same logic and securing perpetuation of a sectarian society.

Besides the lack of a common history, Lebanon is also witnessing the vanishing of its public spaces, and more particularly of a public sphere. The public library is a site that combines both these aspects, on the one hand it is a physical public space and on the other, it is a space for the collection, diffusion and sharing of knowledge production.

The VOLUME Project takes its starting point also in the fact, that throughout history, libraries have remained targets in operations of cultural cleansing, conflict, religious and secular wars and during the establishment of dictatorial regimes. In "Historia Compendiosa Dynastiarum" the Christian-Syrian writer Bar-Hebraeus describes the fate of the glorious Alexandria Library and accounts that Caliph Omar uttered the following sentence "If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them.”
The libraries’ collections and archives offer a site where to reflect upon the relationship between censorship and the unwritten and where to give new voice to the unspoken and the unheard.

*Curatorial framework
In The Library of Babel, J.L. Borges introduces a superstition, which involves the quest of a book:

“It was argued there must exist a book that is the cipher and perfect compendium of all other books, and some librarian must have examined that book. This librarian is analogous to a god. […] Many have gone in search of him. For a hundred years, men beat every possible path and every path again. […] Let me be tortured and battered and annihilated, but let there be one instant, one creature, wherein thy enormous Library may find its justification.”

The book represents for Borges an Archimedean point that generates while containing the complexities and contradictions that the human episteme -in the form of Library- embodies. It is both constituent and origin of the Library and it replicates its patterns as in a fractal organism.

Following Borges on the tensions between manifestation and potential, the interventions in the libraries in Beirut will form three chapters of a meta-narration which indulges on the idea of the missing book: a legendary, invented or dangerous book that disappeared from the shelves of the library. We don’t know its origin or the reasons behind its lack. We don’t know where to locate it or how it would look like, although many stories circulate about it. While we can only reckon what we would find on its pages, its volume as physical absence is a vestige that bears and unfolds the system of which it forms a part.

On these premises the artists are invited to speculate on the idea of the missing book; a starting point that lead us to consider the libraries’ existing collection also through what is lacking, and therefore the act of collecting and its relation to the accessibility to knowledge. The missing book also opens the library to the unwritten as a space where fantasy can coexist with taboos, beliefs, and traditions. The quest for the missing book is also a meta-story on the city of Beirut and its people, a trajectory formed by encounters and discussions on the “what if…”

Recipient of our imagination, the book is a mirror that reflects what you are looking for, perhaps yourself.

Sara Giannini.