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It Is Only Through Your Thoughts That I Can Remember Who I Am

It Is Only Through Your Thoughts That I Can Remember Who I Am Photo: Eyal Vexler
In December 1943, an exhibition entitled "L’Art moderne au Liban" opened at the Bezalel Jewish National Museum in Jerusalem, featuring works of modern art by leading artists from neighboring Lebanon. The exhibition was to be followed by a reciprocating display of works by Jewish artists from Mandatory Palestine at the National Museum of Beirut, but that never happened. Aborted before its completion, "L’Art moderne au Liban" has since sunk into forgetfulness, and it remains impossible to complete until today.

"It Is Only Through Your Thoughts That I Can Remember Who I Am" is an exhibition in three acts by Hagar Ophir and Hakim Bishara who work together as Theatre of Operations. The project reimagines the story of "L’Art moderne au Liban" into a theatrical exhibition in three acts. Madame M.S, a mysterious Lebanese painter who was one of the participating artists in the 1943 exhibition, is conjured up from the archive to recount the tale of her time by reimagining the past into the future.
ToO1 Photo: Eyal Vexler

ToO-detail

ToO5

ToO-Hotel Photo: Eyal Vexler

For the set design which I developed in collaboration with the artists I recreated, referenced and reinterpreted historical objects, architecture and artworks connected to "L'Art moderne au Liban": For example, a model of the legendary and now partly destroyed Hotel St. Georges in Beirut is used as a display for the research material which was the starting point for the project.

historical references include:

  • The Moron collection

    The Morons were a french couple living in Lebanon at the time. They were patrons of the arts and facilitators of the 1943 exhibition. The second scene of "It Is Only Through Your Thoughts That I Can Remember Who I am" is set at a tea party in the Morons' salon so we replicated objects from their large collection as paper models to recreate the atmosphere of the gathering. Among them is the Chinese sculpture in the center of the image below as well as the small horse on its right.

    collection1 Photo: Michel Carcenac
  • The Hotel St. Georges

    The building in Beirut used to be a glamorous temporary home for many stars and politicians. One of its architects was Antoine Tabet, who also participated as an artist in "L'Art moderne au Liban". Our model of the hotel contained the research material on which the current exhibition project is based. Also, the ornaments of the hotel balconies reappear on the backrests and armrests of the sofas in the second scene.

    St. Georges
  • Georges Cyr's aquarels

    Cyr was also an artist participating in the 1943 exhibition. We used details of the traditional Lebanese costumes he painted to decorate the pillows in the salon and the séance table in the first scene from which the voice of Madame M.S. arises to set the historical background for the visitors.

    Cyr aquarel
ToO-paper bowl

ToO -bowl

ToO-vessel

ToO-vessel

ToO-Sculpture

ToO-Sculpture

The exhibition was shown for the first time in Kunsthall 3.14, Bergen, Norway, and was curated by Sissel Lillebostad and Trond Hugo Haugen in collaboration with Malin Barth.


Audio works and sound installations: Miriam Schickler
Light design and programing: Rachid Moro
Set Design: Martha Schwindling (assistant: Marta Pracht)
Researcher in France: Ellie Armon Azoulay
Researcher in Beirut: Stephanie d'Arc Taylor
Production coordinator in Bergen: Adriana Alves