“A good part of our work is about giving materiality to things that aren‘t visible.”
Based in Beirut and Paris, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige are filmmakers, visual artists, and avid researchers who employ images they have captured or made to investigate our relation with history. They both came of age in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War, a period often bracketed as incongruous with the rest of Lebanon‘s history. But the latent power of images and unheeded effects of violence from the past loom large in the present—and urgently in their work.
Their inspiration often comes from specific, potent interactions with history, resulting in projects like the Lebanese Rocket Society—a multifaceted work that explores an actual, all but forgotten Lebanese space program from the mid-1960s, which the artists only stumbled upon after finding an old commemorative stamp. Hadjithomas and Joreige, however, work against the concept of nostalgia by evoking the past constructively, as a way to understand the present and how we position ourselves in a broader historical and temporal context. In Je Veux Voir (I Want to See), starring film icon Catherine Deneuve, the filmmakers adduce both the history of cinema and the country’s socio-political history. Filming near the border between South Lebanon and Israel—a contentious site, normally guarded and closed—they were able to test the potential power of cinema and open a small road just for a moment, demonstrating the possibilities when disparate histories, motivations, and realms (here the political and the filmic) clash with the present.
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