Ashkal Alwan | Home Workspace - Beirut
26 / 02 / 2014 - 04 / 04 / 2014

Animism has been a multi-part exhibition project realised in various collaborations since 2010. The project interrogates notions of modernity through its ‘negative horizon’, animism.

Originally an anthropological concept denoting humanity’s alleged original beliefs in an animated nature and migrating souls, this project conceives of animism not primarily as belief, but as a category in which modernity and state-reason imagined the absence or transgression of its own conceptual boundaries, chiefly between inanimate matter and non-humans, geared to delineate the status of “person” endowed with a voice and rights. The project does not ask how some people come to perceive objects or nature as “social beings”, but inverts the question to delineate how objects are made and the status of person can be withheld or withdrawn.

Animism then becomes a lens through which the making of boundaries comes into view, which situates aesthetic processes, such as the effect of animation, against a historical backdrop of modern-colonial mythologies and mobilisations of science. The project seeks to register current shifts from from a critique of alienation, reification and objectification, to a cultural production under the paradigm of subjectivation and the technological mobilization of pre-individual mimesis and relationality.

The works and archival documents on display interrogate the symptomatic media-effects of modern boundaries, the nexus between active and passive, poeisis and pathos, and hence recast the ecological network-paradigm of the present in terms of boundary-practices and a critique of media-technologies.


The present edition presents works that interrogate the dialectics of particular formats and genres of the modern institutional imaginary, such as the museum and its relation to time, order and transformation (Jimmie Durham / Chris Marker / Alain Resnais), ethnographic film (Rudolph Poch), the mummy-complex of cinema (Artefakte), animation and the animal-metaphor (Walt Disney, Marcel Broodthaers, Jean Painleve), labor, media and the body (Ken Jacobs), psychiatric boundaries of subjectivity (Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato), ecstasy (Yayoi Kusama), the continuum of body and technology (Daria Martin), and exemplary “scenes” exploring mediality and the enrollment of mythology and enchantment, materiality and fetishism in the re-configuration of modern power and modern frontiers (Al Clah, Hans Richter, Len Lye,Yervant Gianikian / Angela Ricci Lucchi, Adam Avikainen, Otobong Nkanga), as well as current frontiers in indigenous struggles (Paulo Tavares).

Special thanks to Heidi Ballet, Daphné Praud, Beirut Art Center, Rayyane Tabet, Roy Dib, Cathy Serrano, Jinghan Wang & OCAT, Galerie Marie–Puck Broodthaers, Archives Jean Painlevé, The New Zealand Film Archive, Fundación Augusto y León Ferrari, Hassan Fahs