Exhibitionism: From Beirut to Bryn Mawr

Every year, the Bryn Mawr College Libraries host culture-spanning exhibitions, and with a trio of exhibitions on the gallery roster, this academic year is no exception.
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This fall, the Class of 1912 Rare Book Room played host to Camp Pause, a four-channel video installation by the Beirut-based artists’ collective Dictaphone Group.

A reflection on refuge, the videos follow four residents of the Rashidieh Refugee Camp on the coast of Lebanon, just south of the city of Tyre. As the artists explain, “We filmed their everyday routes from their homes to the sea, each participant leading us to the final scene in which they choose a spot on the seashore. Along the way, they weave simultaneous narratives about the history of the land, their arrival, the struggle to build, and everyday life in a camp situated away from the city, bordered by agricultural fields and the sea.”

At Bryn Mawr, Camp Pause was one of four works in ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury, the artist’s most extensive exhibition to date. A feminist Arab artist based in London and Beirut, El Khoury makes solo and collectively produced work that challenges “the perceptions and narratives of the West about the Arab world, particularly in relation to women,” according to The Guardian critic Lyn Gardner. In her installations and performances, the audience becomes an active collaborator; in fact, El Khoury identifies her work as “live art” to underscore the importance of active audience engagement. Her research—she holds a Ph.D. from Royal Holloway, University of London—focuses on the political and ethical implications of “live art” practice.

To implement and maintain the artworks during her on-campus residency, El Khoury and her team worked closely with staff in both Performing Arts and Special Collections, as well as with student interns. During the exhibition’s run, the students reflected in Special Collections blogposts, social media, and a public conversation as part of the Friday Finds programming series. That weekly series, organized by Laurel McLaughlin, Ph.D. candidate and Ridgway Curatorial Fellow to Special Collections, brought together storytellers, poets, and lecturers from Bi-Co faculty in anthropology, archaeology, history of art, and political science.

Major support for ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury, presented in association with FringeArts, was provided by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, which expanded the presentation to galleries in Philadelphia. Support for Camp Pause and affiliated programming was provided by the Friends of the Bryn Mawr College Libraries; the programs in Middle East Studies and Museum Studies; the Center for Visual Culture; and the departments of English, history, history of art, and political science. 

Season highlights include contemporary work by a Lebanese performance / installation artist, a then-and-now look at the ancient theory of the human temperaments, and a deep dive into Byzantine textiles.

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Exhibitionism: The Grand Tour

Exhibitionism: The Textiles of Byzantium

Exhibitionism: The Four Temperaments