Raed Yassin, Winning Artist, Abraaj Group Art Prize 2012
China, 7 porcelain vases
Lebanon has long struggled to come to terms with the aftermath of its civil war (1975-1990). Even if the fighting stopped more than two decades ago, sectarian tensions are still very much present in the country’s demographic and political make-up.
Violence has for the most part ceased, yet to date no culprits of the atrocities have been held accountable for their actions. An uneasy amnesia, and absence of historical narrative reigns in Lebanon in order to keep a brittle peace. In an attempt to formulate the cycle of this unaccounted history, Raed Yassin has chosen an unorthodox and innovative way of attempting to represent – ‘frieze’ as it were – important historical events of Lebanese contemporary history. His work struggles with the impossibility of reading things of the past in a comprehensive way. In China he shows seven Chinese porcelain vases, produced at Jingdezhen – China’s capital of porcelain. Depicting key battles of the Lebanese civil war, amongst others the War of the Hotels (1975-1976), the Battle for Tal al-Zaatar (1976), the Israeli invasion of Beirut (1982) and the so-called War of Liberation (1989).
These vases are part-beautiful object, parthistorical document, and part-mass-produced product. They echo the ancient tradition of recording victories at battle on vases and ceramics for the sake of posterity, as well as a domestic decorative readymade that can easily be found in any Lebanese home. Yassin decided to detail battles that were instrumental for territorial, demographic and political shifts, and whose ramifications are still tangible today.
The circularity of the vases hint at an impossibility of closure – there is no beginning and no end when we view the vases, reflecting the unresolved situation in present-day Lebanon.
Raed Yassin lives and works in Beirut and graduated from the theatre department of the Institute of Fine Arts in Beirut in 2003. An artist and musician, Yassin’s work often originates from an examination of his personal narratives and their position within a collective history, through the lens of consumer culture and mass production.
He has exhibited and performed his work in numerous museums, festivals and venues across Europe, the Middle East, the United States and Japan, including Sharjah Biennial 10 (2011), Delfina Foundation, London (2010-11) where he completed a residency program, Manifesta 8, Murcia (2010-11), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2011), De-Ateliers, Amsterdam following a 2-year residency, Home Works 5, Beirut (2010) and Photo Cairo 4 (2008). Yassin was awarded the Fidus Prize for The Best of Sammy Clark at Beirut Art Center’s ‘Exposureexhibition’ (2009), the AFAC grant for production (2010), the YATF grant for production (2008) and the Cultural Resource grant for production (2008). Yassin is one of the organisers of IRTIJAL Festival, has released 10 music albums and founded the production company Annihaya in 2009.
He is also a founding member of Atfal Ahdath a Beirut based art collective and his artwork is represented by Kalfayan Galleries, Athens/Thessaloniki.