Lamia Joreige

1972 | Beirut, Lebanon
Lamia Joreige — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

© Photo: Alexandre Guirkinger

— Lamia Joreige

Lebanese visual artist and filmmaker.

Born in Lebanon, Lamia Joreige left with her family for Paris in 1983, during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990), but returned often to Beirut, maintaining connections to the city throughout this period. L. Joreige received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1995, with a focus on painting and filmmaking. She is among the postwar generation of Lebanese artists, alongside Rabih Mroué, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, and Akram Zaatari, whose works explore the memory and legacy of the war in the absence of public discourse and commemoration. Fusing archival and fictional elements, L. Joreige’s work develops narrative strategies that break away from the linearity of chronology, the totality of history, and the authoritativeness of truth. Rather than aiming to represent, it introduces traces, reactivates moments, excavates layers, and embraces distortions and disruptions. In video, installation, and painting, L. Joreige grapples with capturing the passage and concretization of time, the tensions between the personal and collective in Lebanon, and the lived realities of present-day Beirut.

Objects of War (1999-present), a video installation that includes multiple testimonials triggered by objects from the time of the war, was the first major work to launch her to international acclaim. The project presents diverse personal memories that refuse to cohere into a single narrative. In 2009, L. Joreige co-founded (along with Sandra Dagher) Beirut Art Center, Lebanon’s first non-profit space dedicated to contemporary art, in which she remains actively involved. From 2013 to 2017, she developed the multi-chapter project Under-Writing Beirut, which weaves together the layered temporalities sedimented in different parts of the city: the National Museum (Chapter 1), Beirut River (Chapter 2), and suburb of Ouzai (Chapter 3). Each chapter engages with traces from the past, complexities in the present, and future uncertainties, providing glimpses of the city in flux. In 2014, she released her first feature film, And the Living is Easy. Revolving around fictional adaptations of her characters’ real-life intimate experiences, L. Joreige’s film captures the unease that tinges the daily pleasures of life in Beirut in the midst of the regional uprisings that have brought to the fore the ever-present possibility of a (re)turn to war.

L. Joreige is currently developing research that explores anachronistic resonances between the states of upheaval in the Middle East today and in the World War I era. Building from historical memoirs and records, this new body of work will highlight the lived effects of events like the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the area among colonial powers and contributed to the establishment of its contemporary borders. Since her first solo exhibition in Beirut in 1997, her work has been shown at Tate Modern, MoMA, and MAXXI, among others, as well as in the inaugural Lebanese pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007).

Nadia Christidi

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