Projects 101 features the U.S. premiere of Riding on a Cloud, a live performance created by the Berlin-based Lebanese artist, actor, and theater director Rabih Mroué. His work, which merges visual art, performance, and theater, eludes simple disciplinary categories. Despite the diversity of his practice, his lecture-performances are a key format across his oeuvre. Along with Walid Raad and Akram Zaatari, Mroué is part of a larger group of artists active in Beirut since the end of the Lebanese Civil War, in 1990, and the effects of that era’s political strife infuse their work. He uses found documents, video footage, photographs, and objects to reconstruct certain events, employing a narrative of memory and forgetting to create intentional slippages in meaning, and compromising the authority of the archival evidence.
For Projects 101, Mroué presents the performance Riding on a Cloud, based on his brother Yasser Mroué’s personal experiences in the aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War. As a young man during the war, Yasser suffered a head injury that resulted in aphasia, a condition that rendered him unable to recognize friends and acquaintances in photographs or other visual representations. Because he was left with this “problem of representation,” Yasser’s doctor advised that he videotape and photograph his surroundings in an effort to retain an understanding of images and, ultimately, reality. Performed by Yasser himself, Riding on a Cloud combines prerecorded video and spoken word in a parafictional meditation on the relationship between lived experience and representation. This poetic mixture of fact and fiction dissects biography, questions our relationship to images, and interrogates the space between political reality and memory.
On April 21, Mroué will join writer and translator Omar Berrada for a conversation following the performance. Mroué’s work Blow Ups (2012), which investigates the use of cellular phones in documenting the Syrian revolution, is currently on view at MoMA in Scenes for a New Heritage: Contemporary Art from the Collection.
Organized by Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, with Martha Joseph, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and Performance Art.