The Keeper

Supported by AFAC and realized as installation with the support of Darat al Funun, Amman, 2013

For her first institutional solo at Beirut Art Center, Shuruq Harb is developing new iterations and extensions of recent works and research. At the heart of the exhibition is a question about
materiality, preservation and circulation. 


One of the works which will be on display is The Keeper, an installation of 2000 images which the artist inherited from a street vendor in Ramallah in 2010. The images are remnants of a vast archive assembled by Mustafa, who collected photographs online to be printed for sale on the streets of Ramallah.


Mustafa provided a service from the internet to an audience bypassed by a supposedly global circulation of images. Based on demand, he proposed a disparate portfolio composed of Turkish soap opera stars, political figures, wrestlers, militants, musicians and other public characters. He would draw them from the maelstrom of internet images and bring them to the physical world, printing and selling the images on the glossy stock of automatic photo labs.

In the words of curator and architect Mark Wasiuta: “Harb’s project encounters the dilemma posed by this collection whose ephemeral value was hinged to the rapid temporality of news cycles and popular taste,” a collection which encapsulates a particular moment in the distribution of photographs as well as a crystallization of a shared socio-political imaginary in Palestine and the Arab world. 
 
Another point of interest is the movement of these images. While the collection was made out of the supposedly frictionless circulation of online images, it quickly became entangled in the zones of infrastructural limitations that slowed down and even blocked their dissemination, from the moment they took on a physical reality, as the contents were deemed sensitive due to their mixing of personalities of vastly differing potencies. 

 


Within the temporality of the internet, The Keeper is already old, as it is a collection from 2005- 2010. Ten years later, the question of preservation in relation to these vulnerable objects have not been addressed within our region. Witt this opportunity to bring The Keeper to Beirut, the exhibition is generating a new life cycle for the work as it investigates the possibility of housing it as a formal collection within a specialized institutional archive. In doing so it will produce questions relating to the preservation and
archiving of material outputs of Internet ephemera

-  Beirut Art Center Team (Haig, Ahmad, Rana, Lori) and Shuruq Harb.

ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR

Shuruq Harb is an artist, filmmaker, teacher, writer, editor and publisher based in Ramallah. Her work as an artist resists resolution as she works across mediums, including film, found photography, sculpture, text and performance. Her film The White Elephant received the award for best short film at Cinema du Reel Festival in Paris, 2018, and was shortlisted for the Hamburg International Short Film Festival, 2019. Her first short story “and this is the object that I found” was published at Mezosfera (2020). She is the recipient of the Han Nefkens Foundation Fundació Antoni Tàpies Video Art Production Award (2019) which produced her most
recent film The Jump, currently on display at Fundació Antoni Tàpies in Barcelona.


Her upcoming exhibition at Beirut Art Center opens in June 2021.