I, the Undersigned is the first solo exhibition in the UK by Lebanese artist, theatre director, playwright and actor Rabih Mroué. Influenced by the ongoing conflicts in Lebanon and the Middle East since the Lebanese Civil War, Mroué looks at issues of historical narration, exclusion and remembrance. For this exhibition he presents new installations alongside key recent works and a live performance.
The People are Demanding – A last minute intervention by the artist directly responds to current political events, the original title I, the Undersigned has been replaced with The People are Demanding and a new work produced. The iconic slogan ‘The People are Demanding’ is being heard in cities across the Middle East where a revolution is unfolding, and becomes the title of a new installation for the window space.
Rabih Mroué – themes and approaches
Mroué’s approach brings together critical theatre and performance art, crossing disciplinary boundaries and shifting the role of the artist. Through his work Mroué asks questions such as: ‘how to express truth through fiction?; can artistic subjectivity create a meaningful and ethically grounded exchange with a public divided by religious and political outlooks?, and how can one establish dialogue in a traumatised society?’
A significant aspect of Mroué’s work deals with histories of conflict. Using found documents such as newspaper clippings, video footage and photographs, he aims to ‘erase’ the weight of these memories by publicly sharing them. References to specific political situations are used to clear the way for alternative futures.
Works featured in the exhibition:
On the window of Rivington Place The People are Demanding sites this slogan alongside a list of actions. The work is an acknowledgment of the extraordinary revival of popular unity, linking the exhibition to the street and elsewhere.
In On Three Posters. Reflections on a video-performance, 2004, Mroué analyses the different film takes rehearsed by one of the first suicide bombers in Lebanon, ‘a secular warrior’ against the 1985 Israeli occupation, while recording his final video confession.
Grandfather, Father and Son, 2010, refers to Mroué’s family, the wider history of the country and attempts to resist the determinism of history. It brings together material from the library of Mroué’s grandfather, a religious scholar turned Communist, who was assassinated; a treatise written by his father during 1982, the year of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, and a story by Rabih Mroué himself, published towards the end of the war in 1989.
Je Veux Voir (I want to see), 2010, an installation made especially for the exhibition, is based on Mroué’s experience of co-starring with French actress Catherine Deneuve in a feature film (2008). The film is an account of Deneuve’s visit to Beirut during a film festival when she went to see the aftermath of the 2007 Israeli attack on the South of Lebanon. She was accompanied by Mroué for what was his first visit back to his native village since the attack.