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CHRA’s Tania El Khoury at Sharjah Biennial 15

By February 7, 2023No Comments

Artist and CHRA Director Tania El Khoury has been awarded Special Mention for the 2023 Sharjah Biennial Jury Prize, presenting two interactive installations at the Sharjah Biennial 15: Cultural Exchange Rate and The Search for Power. Both shows opened with the biennale on February 7, and her award was announces that evening at the Awards Gala. El Khoury is also presenting the live lecture-performance version of The Search for Power on February 10, 11, and 12, with collaborator Ziad Abu-Rish, historian and director of the MA Program in Human Rights in the Arts.

The Sharjah Biennial is an international platform for exhibition and experimentation for artists from the region and beyond. This year’s edition, titled “Thinking Historically in the Present,” was conceived by the late Okwui Enwezor and is curated by Sharjah Art Foundation Curator Hoor Al Qasimi. 

Cultural Exchange Rate is an interactive installation in which Tania El Khoury shares her family memoirs of life in a border village between Lebanon and Syria. The audience is invited to immerse their heads into one family’s secret boxes to explore the sounds, images, and textures of traces of more than a century of border crossings. Marked by war survival, valueless currency collection, brief migration to Mexico, and a river that disregards the colonial and national borders, the project illustrates how the cruelest of borders can be invisible to the eye and yet present in everyday life.

In The Search for Power, Tania El Khoury illuminates the story of electric power in Beirut in order to talk about the dark sides of history and inaccessible knowledge. Together with her historian husband, Ziad Abu-Rish, the pair dove into the archives in Lebanon, France, Belgium, England, and the United States and discovered a transnational story involving businessmen, politicians, warlords, multinational companies, and colonial powers. They also found traces of everyday acts of survival, resistance, and sabotage by electricity company workers and users of electric power.

Sharjah 15 also includes previous CHRA collaborators Coco Fusco (CHRA Talk 2021), Faustin Linyekula (CHRA Talk 2021), and Michael Rakowitz (CHRA Talk 2022).


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