Monday, October 27, 2008

Ayman Baalbaki @ Agial Gallery

Face masks, cagoules, kaffiyehs and gas masks are all symbolic images in themselves. They have been given meaning and/or significance by those that wear them, as well as those who see them. They may evoke fear , pride, humiliation depending on the individual. Associations of prisoners, militants, and Arab male identity all come to mind. Together they create a significant collective of the masculine veil.

Being a refugee and having to flee with little possessions. Momentoes left behind, taking only the essentials for a building a new life in a different place. All tightly wrapped together in a bundle.

The Arab man wrapped in a Kaffiyeh. It is an image of masculinity, an image of resistance, and of tradition. In this instance it is an image that has been given full reverence to the material covering the face. Yet he looks up. Possibly to Ursa Major, to the seven stars above. Icon worthy of veneration, the secular figure has been placed in a golden niche similar to that of a cult image. This is an Arab Man rendered sacred.

Skeletons of buildings abandoned by force. The spectator is transported to a place of massive destruction. Yet these buildings tell the tale of resistance. They remain standing, they bear the visual scars and they speak loudly of their ordeal. Hallowed out, disfigured buildings missing windows, exterior walls and those families that once called them home testify to the disproportion of the violence.They remain as monuments of struggle and resistance.

These are a selection of the different ways in which the most recent body of work by Ayman Baalbaki currently at Agial Art Gallery discusses issues of place and the singular experience of being. The collections of works reflects a personal investigation into issues of identity, gender and community.

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