Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ar(T)Chive Production in Post-war Lebanon
by Danes, Maria Domene, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2018, 363; 10840428
Abstract (Summary)

My dissertation studies the uses of the notion of archive in post-war contemporary art practices around the Lebanese Civil Wars (1975-1990). After the wars, a group of artists from Lebanon began to collect data and produce documents that referenced the traces and memories of the conflict. These compilations metamorphosed into aesthetic projects that took archival-like forms. In this dissertation, I discuss the archival works of Walid Raad, Paola Yacoub/Michel Lasserre, Gilbert Hage, Jalal Toufic, Joanna Hadjithomas/Khalil Joreige, Lamia Joreige, Akram Zaatari, Rasha Salti/Ziad Antar and Marwan Rechmaoui.

This boom of art practices around memory and archives in Lebanon has opposed the politics of amnesia sponsored by the Lebanese state through the Amnesty Law of 1991. Post-war artists, however, have addressed this official amnesia not by seeking to reconstruct the historical facts and recover the real documentation of the wars; instead, they have activated the memories of the wars by exploring the very destruction of these memories. These artists have produced and at the same time deconstructed archives by assembling fragmented, fabricated, para-fictional, and decontextualized collections of photographs, videos, and everyday materials. I describe these practices as ar(t)chive production (or archives-in-the-making).

While the notion of archive is common in modern and contemporary art regarding trauma and memory, my hypothesis is that the archival works of these Lebanese artists are shaped by the new structural context of global war. Most European models of archive pursue a recovery of memory against the destruction in the total wars of the twentieth century, particularly exemplified by the artworks about the Holocaust. By contrast, the practices on the Lebanese Civil Wars engage in the logic of constructive destruction of what Carlo Galli has theorized as global war. Within this logic, violence is both destructive and productive. In this respect, instead of opposing the official amnesia by reviving the memories of the wars, the post-war Lebanese artists reflect on amnesia by showing the construction of the past by means of its own destruction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Facos, Michelle
Commitee: Gleisser, Faye, Graves, Margaret, Saletnik, Jeffrey
School: Indiana University
Department: History of Art
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 79/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, Middle Eastern Studies
Keywords: Archive, Contemporary art, Global War, Joreige, Lamia, Mena art, MrouƩ, Rabih, Post-war Lebanon, Raad, Walid, Zaatari, Akram
Publication Number: 10840428
ISBN: 978-0-438-26766-4
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