Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige Wonder Beirut
'How do we make images in a country where chaos and ruins are prevalent?
How do we report on traces of war and also on what war and disaster do to the image itself? Wonder Beirut is an ongoing project based on a series of postcards from the 1960s and '70s which are still on sale in Lebanese bookshops today, even though the places they depict were destroyed in the bombardments or in subsequent reconstruction programmes.
For this project, we created a fictional character: the photographer Abdallah Farah. Farah supposedly took photographs that were used to produce these postcards in the 1960s, then burned them himself to record the impact of bombardments and street battles during the Lebanese Civil War. The Wonder Beirut project re-inscribes the Civil War and the consequences of the conflict within ideal representations of pre-war Lebanon and interrogates the way in which history is written.
Today, the Wonder Beirut project comes back to haunt us with the economic and political collapse of the country and the increasing tensions and divisions.
About the artist
Hadjithomas, Beirut 1969; Joreige, Beirut 1969
France and Lebanon
Filmmakers and artists, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige question the fabrication of images and representations, the construction of imaginaries, and the writing of history. Their artworks create thematic and formal links between photography, video, performance, installation and cinema.
The artists are known for their long-term research based on personal or political documents, with particular interests in the traces of the invisible and the absent, histories kept secret such as the disappearances during the Lebanese Civil War, a forgotten space project from the 1960s, the strange consequences of Internet scams and spams or the geological and archaeological undergrounds of cities. Among their major artworks, Circle of Confusion, Wonder Beirut, The Lebanese Rocket Society, SCAMS, I stared at Beauty So Much and Unconformities, showcased at the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris) and awarded the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize in 2017.
Their artworks are part of major private and public collections and have been presented in solo and group exhibitions in museums and art centers around the world, such as Jeu de Paume (Paris), Guggenheim (New York), Haus der Kunst (Munich), IVAM (Valencia), MIT List Visual Arts Center (Cambridge), Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE), Villa Arson (Nice), KW Berlin, MOMA (New York), Red Brick Art Museum (Beijing), Tate Modern (London), Ashkal Alwan (Beirut). They participated in many biennials among them Taipei, Venice, Istanbul, Lyon, Gwangju.
Together, they have directed numerous films shown and awarded in major international festivals. Their films include, Memory Box (2021), ISMYRNA (2016); The Lebanese Rocket Society: The Strange Tale of The Lebanese Space Race (2012); Khiam 2000-2007 (2008); Je Veux Voir (I Want To See) (2008); A Perfect Day (2005); The Lost Film (2003); and Al Bayt el Zaher (Around the Pink House) (1999).
Numerous publications have been published on their work namely Two Suns in a Sunset, The Rumors of The World: Rethinking Trust in the Age of the Internet, Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige monograph, Le cinéma de Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige.
They both regularly present lecture-performances including Aida Save Me and Latent Images and are often invited as university lecturers in Lebanon and Europe. They are the co-founder of Abbout Productions and executive members of the board of Metropolis Cinema and the Cinemathèque of Beirut.
Sally Mann, Blackwater, 2008-2012
Fabrice Monteiro, The Prophecy, 2013 - 2020
Rinko Kawauchi, Hanabi, 2001
Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Wonder Beirut, 1998-2006
Lisa Oppenheim, Smoke, 2021
Daisuke Yokota, Matter / Burn Out, 2016
Carla Rippey, Immolation, 2009-2019
Christian Marclay, Fire, 2020
Brent Stirton, Burns Capital Of The World, 2013
David Uzochukwu, In The Wake, 2015-2020
Mark Ruwedel, LA Fires, 2017-2020
Mak Remissa, Left 3 Days, 2014