WHITE WALL, organized at Beirut Art Center in association with Fondation Saradar and a team of three curators, was an exhibition in which one of the main objectives is to give new impetus to the Lebanese graffiti scene.
Fourteen international artists, from Europe, North America, South America, together with artists from Egypt and Tunisia, with diverse visions and street art practices, were invited to share their passion and expertise. Beirut Art Center hosted an exhibition, while the show was spread over the streets of Beirut, creating a dynamic interaction between the exhibition’s venue and the city. Nineteen Lebanon-based artists – the figureheads of the Lebanese street art and graffiti scene – participated in the various WHITE WALL activities and outdoor interventions throughout Beirut.
Since the Civil War, public space in Lebanon had been occupied by inscriptions and stencils related to war and sectarian politics. Western-style graffiti appeared infrequently as of the mid-1990s. It was not until 2005 that a new scene emerged, taking on the task to create a uniquely Lebanese style of this art form. This scene is now burgeoning and the streets of Beirut have witnessed the birth of new artists mixing caustic stencils, western influences and Arabic graffiti. These interventions contrasted with public expectations, since they promoted unity over division and maintained a humorous and often critical look at Lebanese society.
One of the key issues raised by this event is to understand how it is possible to bring an inherently outdoor and accessible art to an indoor space like Beirut Art Center, without betraying the idiosyncrasy of this art. While the first graffiti exhibition was already held in 1976 in New York City, this remains a challenge until today. The title, WHITE WALL, confronted the white walls of the galleries with the streets of the city, a challenging prospect for a street artist.
A roundtable at Beirut Art Center organized by Fondation Saradar focused on the phenomenon of Lebanese graffiti and its evolution from a message of war to a contemporary artistic expression. At the same time, items related to street art were on display at Beirut Art Center. Visitors were able to find a selection of books as well as graffiti-styled bags by « Sarah’s Bag », designed in collaboration with the artists.
WHITE WALL aimed to create a vibrant interaction between graffiti, the city of Beirut and the Beirut Art Center. Therefore the project is divided over different venues. Beirut Art Center hosted the exhibition for a period of two months and the roundtable organized by Fondation Saradar. The rest of the exhibition was spread over the walls of the city. The locations of the outdoor interventions were indicated on a map that visitors picked up at the main venues and find updates online. This initiative sought to:
- Emphasize the medium of graffiti as a universal artistic expression and a timeless communication tool used worldwide,
- Create a platform in Beirut for local and international graffitists as well as selected Arab artists to:
– Meet, exchange experiences, and share techniques,
– Encourage creative ventures and innovative collaborations,
– Provide well- and lesser known – artists with wide international exposure,
– Explore and understand the history and evolution of graffiti in Lebanon,
– Encourage new perceptions of graffiti in Lebanon by placing it in the context of a contemporary art space,
- Promote public space as important and legitimate as a site for social and artistic engagement.
This project was carried by four different energies:
- Charles Vallaud aka Prime
- Don R. Karl aka Stone
- Tania Helou (Fondation Saradar)
Ammar Abo Bakr (Egypt)
Aya Tarek (Egypt)
Mark Jenkins (USA)
Marius SARADAR Holding sal (Beirut, Lebanon)
Beirut Art Center (Beirut, Lebanon)
Anis Commercial Printing Press (Beirut, Lebanon)
Bureau International Jeunesse (Brussels, Belgium)
Century Motor Company – Hyundai (Beirut, Lebanon)
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany (Beirut, Lebanon)
Diageo (Beirut, Lebanon)
Embassy of Spain (Lebanon)
From Here to Fame-Don Karl (Berlin, Germany)
Goethe-Institut (Beirut, Lebanon)
Goethe-Institut (Alexandria, Egypt)
GraffMe (Toulouse, France)
Institut Français de Beyrouth (Lebanon)
Instituto Cervantes (Beirut, Lebanon)
Les Affichages Pikasso s.a.l (Beirut, Lebanon)
LIA Insurance (Beirut, Lebanon)
MTN – Montana Colors Middle East (Beirut, Lebanon)
OSLO by Nayla Audi (Beirut, Lebanon)
OSLO by Nayla Audi (Beirut, Lebanon)
Red Bull (Beirut, Lebanon)
Sarah’s Bag (Beirut, Lebanon)
Tinol Paints International Co. sal (Beirut, Lebanon)