Yazan Halwani is a Lebanese artist and activist from Beirut, best known for his murals of famous national symbols, most notably a mural on Beirut's Hamra Street, which depicts the late famous Lebanese singer Sabah.
Recently, he moved from producing public murals to Fine Art, and today he holds his first exhibition “HOTEL BEIRUT, OR MUNDANE ENTROPY” at Agial Art Gallery, Hamra.
This work consists of three axes of narrative paintings that present the reality of the Lebanese people and immigration from his perspective.
To find out more about the concept of this work, we in Modern Arabesque have visited the exhibition and had a conversation with Yazan Halwani, where he pointed out that the exhibition is not only about immigration, but about our identity as Lebanese too!
We in Lebanon are living in a state of chaos, where some believe that it is wonderful for the Lebanese to be famous for: " wherever they go, they succeed! … they are multi langual”
However, in Yazan’s opinion, this fact is sad, because it contributes to the emigration of the Lebanese.
He explained to us the three axes that the exhibition revolves around:
The first axis: "Maybe the moon is beautiful because it is far." It revolves around images of Beirut in various forms that migrants circulate from the window of the plane, which express our strange relationship with this country and our strong attachment to it, saying: “When you are in Beirut you want to be far away, but once you are away, you feel the yearning to return! "
The second axis: "Secondary income", travel is a sensitive and turbulent experience. Therefore, Yazan considers the airport to be one of the most emotional places in Lebanon. Here the Lebanese are crying, smiling, grieving and rejoicing, and the most important thing is that the airport brings them together from all religions under one roof, regardless of their affiliations, Disagreements
and differences.
Here Yazan paints familiar scenes at the airport, bags stacked in the aisle, and the woman waiting to board a plane.
The third axis: "Entrance Barriers", which is a series of photographs that Yazan collected from his migrant friends, embodying their electrical outlets, which he considers as an embodiment of immigrant cases.
These images include the commodification of human labor that drives people across national borders in search of markets to which to sell their labor power to earn a livelihood. It is things like these sockets that organize our lives, as they are strange remnants of history and the political economy of the world that delineate spheres of influence to tell the story of the economic and political subordination of states based on the criteria they use.
He concluded this interview by saying, "If I had to summarize, the show revolves around chaos as an identity, but from multiple facets."
From Modern Arabesque team, we thank Yazan Halwani for this interview and we invite you also to visit the exhibition that runs until 15 of May 2021.
Mabelle Milane
Modern Arabesque