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Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber Ocula Report Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber 15 Mar 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...

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Diana Campbell Betancourt Ocula Conversation Diana Campbell Betancourt

Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...

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Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art Ocula Report Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art 7 Mar 2019 : Mike Pinnington for Ocula

China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...

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Rayyane Tabet

b. 1983, Lebanon

Rayyane Tabet's practice focuses on the use of objects, often of a personal nature, as a starting point for the exploration of memory and individual narratives. Tabet's sculptural works, clearly influenced by his studies in architecture, act as a counterpoint to official histories; giving agency to subjective understandings of major socio-historical events. Despite their grounding in extensive research, his works usually manifest as stark, minimalist forms. Tabet's sculptures attest to the power of the object to articulate its own history, resulting in the frequent comparison of his methodology with that of an archaeologist.

For Dear Mr. Utzon, 2018, presented at the 21st Biennale of Sydney, Tabet uses a series of found objects as a means of accessing latent histories. Focusing on the connection between two disparate locations, Beirut and Sydney, Tabet presents a performance that looks at renowned architect Jørn Utzon's design for the Sydney Opera House alongside his unrealised plan to construct a subterranean theatre at Jeita Grotto, the limestone caves in Lebanon. Following the form of an open letter addressed to the architect on the eve of his 100th birthday, Dear Mr. Utzon provides the artist with a way to position himself in relation to the city, by way of Utzon's ties to Sydney and Beirut.

Inspired by an archival image of Utzon at home with his family, Tabet transforms the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House into a domestic interior. The artist has included a lounge suite from Utzon's 'A New Angle' furniture system, designed during the construction of the Opera House and acquired in 2006. Above the suite an original 'U336 Lamp' released by Artek in 1957 is suspended, alongside an 'Opera' pendant, launched in 2005. Other Utzon-designed objects, models, and archival material relating to both the Opera House and the Jeita Grotto project have been carefully placed in the room to construct an intimate space. The site of the performance is a significant location considering its interior design is the only one completed by Utzon in the building.

Tabet is particularly interested in disclosing a more informal portrait of the architect, focusing both on minor and major stories connected to both projects. Starting from the welcoming space of a domestic setting, Tabet's narrative gradually recovers lesser-known, obscured stories, either tenuously or directly associated with the Sydney Opera House or the Jeita Grotto.

The only physical remnant of the performance are reproduced leaflets, distributed at each venue of the 21st Biennale of Sydney, which read 'BRING UTZON BACK'. Designed and printed by a group of young architects during the controversy surrounding Utzon's dismissal from the Opera House project in 1966, the leaflet can be read as a metaphor for, and concise summation of, Tabet's project.

Tai Spruyt and Stephanie Berlangieri | Biennale of Sydney Exhibition Team | 2018
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In Ocula Magazine

Manifesta 12: Cultivating Coexistence Ocula Report Manifesta 12: Cultivating Coexistence 27 Jul 2018 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Palermo is one of many European cities undergoing major rebranding. The Sicilian capital is continually working toward shifting its reputation as a mafia stronghold and sex-trafficking hotspot to a more palatable business and tourist-friendly profile. The 1990s Primavera di Palermo social movement aimed at promoting a culture of legality,...

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Rayyane Tabet Ocula Conversation
in partnership with the 21st Biennale of Sydney
Rayyane Tabet Artist

Beirut-based artist Rayyane Tabet's practice exists at the intersection of storytelling, sculpture and architecture. Here, the physical material—be it found architectural objects or material drawn from personal archives—is revealed to contain unresolved histories or buried narratives that are then exposed through the act of...

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