Sun, Romance and Destruction

Charbel-Joseph H. Boutros, Paul Hage Boutros, Stéphanie Saadé

24 January - 17 March 2015

“But what about us when, deconditioned, we learn what we are?” 

Georges Bataille, L’Expérience intérieure

A new generation of artists rises on the contemporary Lebanese scene, artists able to reconcile what is intimate with what is political, with strength and –let us not fear the world- poetry. A few days ago, on the radio, I was listening to Marguerite Duras talking about the revolutionary impact of poetry. We often forget that they are the two branches of the same tree. And these Lebanese artists cling to it. Of course, the political history of Lebanon is to be considered. Of course there is Walid Raad, the power of archives to tell the Time against disappearance. Of course Lebanon has known nothing but the war for now 30 years. But Charbel-Joseph H.Boutros, Paul Hage Boutros and Stéphanie Saadé do not ignore this history: on the contrary, they assume it in their private lives, in their bodies, in their confessions, in their sleeps, in their inner experiences. And if I speak of inner experience, I think of Georges Bataille, who writes this book, so dense, in France, during the Second World War, when he only sees darkness and a meaningless abyss.

These approaches have a radical strength. The minimalist reduction issued from the conceptual tradition is here always engaged in a sensitive quest, linked to the potentials of fiction, without ever neglecting the “I”. These works are not the result of cold protocols. In themselves they are as if charged with electricity, and so become concepts, filled with sun, night, enigma, sadness, nostalgia: but also with artifices, skills so precise that they are never stifling symbols.

These artists remind me that delicacy is a conquest, so is elegance. These are not empty words. They are primarily the result of the engagement of someone who beams on others, decidedly open to openness, open to action, to what must be said there and then, and take shape there and then.

Two roses are in the same vase; one is artificial, the other is natural.

A chain with incompatible rings is nevertheless still a chain.

The Confessions of Rousseau are, from now on, incomplete. 

A key stuck in a heap of earth embodies homesickness.

Every thought has been deleted.

Phones ring. No answer.

Secret. Blood. Love.

Bright darkness.

Will one day the sun of Beirut stop shining?

Léa Bismuth