Some of the artists shown in the following rooms actively attempt to change the world through their work. Others are witnesses, focusing on problems in society as it is. Idealism is present too, in the belief that art can show us a better world and how we might move towards it. Artists have found many different means to convey their ideas. They can forcefully communicate a political message, or invite us to find our own way through layers of meaning.
This opening room brings together works that depict aspects of the built landscape as symbols for a wider social situation. Mitch Epstein’s photographs from the American Power series show the effects of power industries and infrastructures on the landscape. Although the photographs contain no human figures, they suggest the private or political interests that shape the harnessing and consumption of power resources. These have real environmental consequences.
Marwan Rechmaoui’s sculpture relates to a high-rise building that still dominates the Beirut skyline. It was built as an office block but was unfinished at the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). During the fighting, it became a sniper outpost. Too difficult and expensive to demolish, it now serves as an unofficial memorial to the conflict and its effect on the city.
Curated by Matthew Gale and Valentina Ravaglia
The Roman Family Gallery