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Transcending Trouble

Transcending Trouble

Transcending

118 escape | beirut art fair WRITER: Nadine Khalil escape | beirut art fair 119 Transcending Trouble The fourth edition of the Beirut Art Fair is taking place in the Lebanese capital from September 19 – 23 and will host 40 galleries from more than 15 countries. We take a look at what’s new this year. When I ask Laure d’Hauteville, director of the Beirut Art Fair, how she came to be involved with the art scene here 15 years ago, she laughs and asks me how much time I have for the answer. We’re sitting, at Laure’s suggestion, in the cigar lounge at Le Gray on a Friday evening. Plush armchairs, walls of books, it’s the kind of place where time doesn’t feel like an issue. D’Hauteville’s relationship with Lebanon didn’t begin with the Fair. “My uncle used to be the director of the Université Saint-Joseph and the Jamhour school,” she begins. “He would ask my family to shelter Lebanese people coming to France during the war, so I’ve always shared rooms with Lebanese who needed to flee the country, even before I ever came here.” I inquire about the constant obsession with war in the Lebanese and Arab art market. For example, “Generation War” a photography exhibition in this year’s fair curated by Katya Traboulsi and sponsored by acclaimed war journalist, Marine Jacquemin. “Generation War is not about war,” d’Hauteville corrects me, “it’s about how to get out of a situation of war. Here, you have photographers who were born in the 1960s and were just in their 20’s when the war began.” She explains that these were amateurs who weren’t professional but whose pictures were picked up by news agencies, because they were on the spot. There’s a photograph of an orchestra performing near a military barrack by Patrick Baz, one of a bride and groom hidden near sandbags by Roger Moukarzel and a soldier with an AK47 slung around his soldier and a kitten in his hand by Aline Manoukian. “It’s about moments of life and happiness in between the war,” she continues. D’Hauteville found herself in Beirut for the first time in 1991, just after the war ended, when her ex-husband was in Lebanon on a 6-month contract. She liked it so much that she stayed on until 2006, supporting herself by working on the cultural pages of French-language business magazine, Commerce du Levant. In 1998, she established the first contemporary art fair in Beirut, Artuel, which grew out of a bankrelated exhibition for Expo du Levant. It became known as ArtSud and ran until 2005. “It was the very first art fair of its kind in the whole region. We were the first to start, before Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I was given 500 square metres to work with but the galleries were so keen to collaborate, that I ended up needing 1,200 metres.” Despite her dignified air and hard nose for the business of art, as we speak, d’Hauteville gets visibly “It was the very first art fair of its kind in the whole region. We were the first to start, before Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I was given 500 square metres to work with but the galleries were so keen to collaborate, that I ended up needing 1,200 metres.” excited when talking about particular artworks. “Nadim Karam had made these elephants, which we lined up as a delegation at the entrance of the fair,” she recalls, speaking of the 1998 event. “It was a real sight, leading the way inside. This year, Fabien Verschaere, who creates little monsters and Jean- Marc Nahas, who is famous for his distorted faces, will be painting live on opposite sides of a 7-metre wall, before they meet for the first time.” After briefly working on the idea of exporting ArtParis to Abu Dhabi in 2006, d’Hauteville started the Beirut Art Fair in 2010 when she realised that Bespoke Bespoke

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