Sirine Fattouh : Lost - Won + The Remake
Sirine Fattouh
Lost - Won + The Remake
Stéphanie Dadour, November 2, 2009
Born in 1980 in Beirut, Sirine Fattouh  is a Lebanese artist who lives in between Paris and Beirut. Along her practise, Fattouh is enrolled in the doctorate program in Visual Arts and Sciences of Art at the University of Pantheon-Sorbonne, where she has also been teaching fine arts since 2005.

Far from aiming at any denunciation, her work  tackles the issue of the artist’s responsibility for political and social conflicts. The subject of her fine arts thesis is about rethinking political art and aims to elaborate a work on memory through an artistic process.

Lately her work has been shown in many French and Lebanese manifestations, mainly in the Aperto space in Montpellier-France, in the Film Festival Né à Beyrouth (http://www.neabeyrouth.org) and most importantly her participation in Exposure 2009, a collective exhibition of art works organized by the Beirut Art Center in Lebanon in partnership with the Fidus Wealth Management and SGBL group from April 22nd to June 9th 2009. The aim of this yearly exhibition serves to promote innovative and emergent local talent by inviting artists to propose a new work or a work which has not yet been exhibited in the country.


Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist
Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist


Fattouh’s work was initially created in response to a call for artists of the Festival Photos et Légendes from the city of Pantin, France entitled Perdu/Gagné, translated as Lost/Won.  The idea behind her proposal was the ambivalence of human constructions that involve as much progress and reward as they include rejection and loss.

From this idea, emerged the artist’s journey through Lebanon to interview a hundred women from different religious and socio-cultural backgrounds, focusing on the two following questions: “What have you won?” and “ What have you lost?”  Fattouh insisted on working in the more remote areas of the north and the south of Lebanon where women rarely have the opportunity to express themselves.

SirineFattouh_Portrait
SirineFattouh_Portrait


Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist
Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist


At first the artist intended to interview several women each day in order to devote more time to the videos themselves, but she quickly discovered that each meeting developed at a slow pace and this was crucial in allowing these women to open up. The result is a rich mosaic of personal stories. It reveals at once the singularity of each story and the unifying experience of war, love, death, family, men, emancipation and women’s condition.

Turning its back on the rest of the exhibition, Fattouh’s u-shaped installation leaves a deep impression thanks to the hundreds of Polaroid framed portraits of women. Two plasma screens border the display and project ninety-minute videos.

Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist
Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist


Far from being simple interviews, these videos engage certain protocols of action and editing.  Hence, as evident as it may seem, it is Fattouh’s intention as a woman, as an artist and as a woman-artist to allow these women to address her, and on a wider scale, us, the spectators.   However, it is also obvious that these videos relate to her and act as a process where the artist, although behind the camera, tries to establish her own identity as a Lebanese woman.

In fact, the installation projects not only images, but more importantly reveals a reflection and a judgment on what should be transmitted, via this particular format, this particular program that aspires to define the artist’s point of view.  Although she appears to simply expose the diversity of these women, it is still her perspective that is revealed.


Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist
Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist


The testimonies are all captured according to a certain protocol: the meeting, the close framing allowing us to concentrate on the narrative, the editing. The treatment of the image and the framing position each woman equally and thus, transform these videos into a public platform of expression. The radical style used by the artist and the minimum use of means give it a particular aesthetic, a particular artistic value that engage a political discourse.  Yet, the displayed frames soften the brutal aspect of the videos.

Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist
Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist


If the content of her work might be a useful and interesting corps of study for sociologists or anthropologists, it is important to mention, that the installation per se, is far from being a social work. On the contrary, the artistic value of such testimonies is obvious.  The work of the artist implies a deep reflexion on many questions pertaining to her responsibility and her identity.

Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist
Sirine Fattouh_Fattouh Sirine/Perdu:Gagné, 2009_Courtesy of the artist


SirineFattouh_Remake, 2008, Liban
SirineFattouh_Remake, 2008, Liban


A few months later, another video, Remake, was projected during the Lebanese Film festival Né à Beyrouth. The term "remake" is generally used in cinéma, in reference to a movie which uses an earlier movie as the main source material. In this sense, this video turns out to be the Remake of the previous project Lost-Won.  One man, one setting, four costumes, four different answers: a humoristic video, inspired by the writings of the French philosopher Derrida, where it is difficult to differentiate fiction and reality.


SirineFattouh_Remake, 2008, Liban
SirineFattouh_Remake, 2008, Liban


By allowing words  (language) to speak to us a world in silence, Fattouh’s work articulates a critical awareness of the very act of saying-speaking where she illustrates what Paul Ricoeur described as «the biting power of the world of art in the world of our experience».  She re-creates her own reality by exhibiting in accordance to her thoughts what seems to be someone else’s testimony. Not only does she transcribe these woman experiences but she synthesises them into her own interpretation.  The final videos indicate her personal analysis and story, valuable pieces of art that make public very intimate experiences.

www.sirinefattouh.com