Curated by Adriano Berengo, Marco Berengo
16.07 – 02.09.2012
Beirut Exhibition Center (BEC), Beirut
Following its international stops in Stockholm, Riga and New York, Glasstress took on a particularly symbolic meaning with its stopover in Beirut, an area on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea where, according to Pliny, glass is believed to have been invented. Much like the Republic of Venice and its florid trade throughout history with the Middle-East, with the exchange of glass art techniques and forms, Glasstress Beirut champions not only the rich histories of Italy and Lebanon and their connection to this material, but also looks to the future by showcasing its artistic potential in a revolutionary cultural hub, The Beirut Exhibition Center. The non-profit space in the heart of the city provides a collaborative environment for museums, art galleries, artists and cultural organizations with the mission to promote and develop greater recognition and appreciation of contemporary art throughout Beirut.
Glasstress Beirut presented the works of over thirty prominent international artists and designers, including Lebanese artists, Nabil Nahas and Marya Kazoun. Nahas worked for the first time in glass for Glasstress 2011 and immediately found it to be the ideal material to express his aesthetic syncretism, shaped by both the abstract and the decorative. In Beirut, he presented Stars, an installation-collection of colored glass starfish, typical of the Mediterranean seabed, which is both realistic and abstract. Kazoun, on the other hand, has worked with glass for many years, using it and incorporating it with fabrics, thread and pearls as shown in her site-specific installation-in-progress. Other participants included Jan Fabre, Thomas Schütte, El Ultimo Grito, Marta Klonowska, and Antonio Riello.
This opportunity represented an important beginning for what has turned out to be a lasting and fruitful cultural exchange with the Arab world, showing how tradition and the past can create a fertile discourse with the present by bringing together seemingly distant cultures.