Strife, Conflict and Turmoil Expresses the Powerful Works of Zena Assi

Les Passeurs is Zena Assi’s latest series which opens today at Alwane Gallery in Saifi Village. Some of the pieces play on the idea of belonging, others raise the question of identity and patriotism, addressing the brain drain that Lebanon has been witnessing for decades.

A selection of works reflects on the refugee crisis and the controversial role of the ‘passeur’ who, once paid, might help them through their journey passing them from one bank to the other.

Born in Lebanon, in 1974, artist Zena Assi lives and works between Beirut and London. Assi’s contemporary work on canvas draws inspiration from the relations and conflicts between the individual and his spatial environment, society and its surroundings.

Assi’s pieces are punctuated by strong visual references to her native Beirut and the predicament of its citizens. Assi uses various supports and mediums to document and explore the cultural and social changes of her country. Her work takes shape in installations, animation, sculptures, and paintings on canvas and replicates the tumult, angst and cacophony that everyday life in the city is fraught with.

The show opens today, May 15 at Alwane Gallery in Saifi Village, Beirut, in the presence of the artist Zena Assi.

The show will include Chronicles of a Migrant  – an experimental animation movie, showcased at the 57th VENICE BIENNALE | Grenada Pavilion in 2017.

Chronicles of a Migrant

The movie Chronicles of a Migrant, is a short experimental animation of three minutes, narrating the story of a migrant. The visuals are taken from Assi’s paintings and put in motion by Amandine Brenas. The work describes the daunting trip that any migrant or refugee takes to survive. It tells the story of a migrant’s awakening to the horrors of war and death in his home country; obliged to flee on a dinghy, he faces the dangers of the ‘passers’ and the sea. He is trapped in turmoil, where countries re-draw their borders, erect walls, demolish bridges and enforce segregation… all in the name of containing traumatized masses on the move. These are the chronicles of his passage, surmounting one conflict after the other, in a desperate attempt to reach the shore, bury his dead and finally build a new home.

Zena Assi in her studio

Powerful, Assi’s work represents strong commentary on the world around us.

Exhibition will stay until May 31, 2018 at Alwane Gallery in Saifi Village, Beirut.

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