Mounira Al Solh: Critical reading of some art strategies in times of disasters or dormant conflicts

Are you pretending to be Jesus?

Mounira Al SolhAre you pretending to be Jesus?
Oil, acrylic, black ink and charcoal on canvas, 168 x 210 cm



Leading this drawing workshop, Mounira Al Solh will speak about strategies artists and writers adopt for dealing with disasters, in times of wars or in times of dormant conflicts or even repression. She will make reference to her own work, and to artworks and writings that have marked her, by, for example, Rabih Mroué and Lina Saneh, Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Walid Raad, Ziad Kalthoum and Yto Barrada. The workshop will explore ways to represent the ideas that arise, using drawing, embroidery and collage.

Mounira Al Solh was born in Beirut and grew up there during the civil war and now lives in the Netherlands and in Lebanon. She works across video and video installations, painting and drawing, embroidery, and performative gestures. Irony and self-reflection are central strategies for her work, which explores feminist issues, tracks patterns of microhistory, is socially engaged, and can be political and escapist all at once.  I strongly believe in our right to be frivolous is a series of drawings, begun in 2012, that aims to represent 1,000 Syrians, Palestinians and others exiled to Lebanon in the last few years.  Al Solh invited these individuals to her studio in Beirut, to welcome them, while writing down their conversations
and making sketches. These small scale studies of a variety of people are non-didactical and non-historical personal narratives of Syria before 2011. 

Other projects include I want to be a party (2015 and ongoing), a series of anecdotes, personal stories and semi-fictions, captured in drawings, embroideries and paintings. The works recount family stories told from different perspectives, to reveal divergent accounts of the same political incident. Are you pretending to be Jesus? is a new body of work made for Graphic Witness and includes a large-scale work in oil, acrylic, ink and charcoal on canvas.  This work uses an expressive mode of drawing to depict a horrific incident that she has stored in her memory.

For reference, Drawing Room’s Outset Study holds titles from Al Solh’s reading list, including by anthropologists Hanna Batatu and Fatima Mernissi, historical artists such as James Boswell, and contemporary artists such as Walid Raad and Emily Jacir.  The Graphic Witness exhibition provides additional inspiration.

Limited places and open to Drawing Circle and Network members only.  Drawing materials will be provided.