Lebanese filmmaker and photographer Elias Moubarak introduces ‘The Wondrous and Probable Life of Mr H’. The solo- exhibition at Art on 56th, tells the story of Mr H, a once real, living person, who now has a new life, through assembling vintage photographs and documentary material, the artist.
Bridging the gap between fact and fiction, past and present, Moubarak embellishes the probably ordinary life of his character and sparks his narrative with magic, enigma and mystery.
Photography is a draft of history, it captures, eternalizes and records moments and time. Moubarak adds a playful twist to this characteristic of the medium, by making fiction, instead of reality, real through photography. He gathers vintage photographs he finds, and produces a story around the unknown sitter, calling him Mr H and altering the meaning of his life.
He de-contextualizes these images and re-inserts them into the present, awarding Mr H a status of permanence, relevance and importance. In a way, the artist becomes a curator and detecting, sifting through and handpicking memories and pieces of time to establish a new chorus for this man’s life.
Moubarak, however, also experiments with the element of deception, as these images seem to withhold more than they tell. They convey meaning as a whole, rather than individually, allowing viewers to play an active role in imagining the narrative surrounding the life of Mr H. Both the artist and the observers act as biographers, piecing together bits of the protagonist’s existence.
The artist uses photography to uncover our persistent fascination with lives of the past and our willingness to project imaginary facts around them. In a way, he does what all of us do when faced with vintage imagery: we transform the normal into the extraordinary and marry the ordinary with the fantastical. Today, we are desensitized by images, due to the overflow of exposure through social media and new technologies. Through vintage photography, however, special moments appear to be recognized and carefully selected, rendering these stories through important, defining instances and recollections. As a result, even history appears to be skilfully curated and filtered, to eternalize what is important and to pay tribute to transcendental reminiscence.