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Marwa Arsanios

The Future Generation Art Prize 2012 Special Prize Winner

Marwa Arsanios was born in 1978 in the USA. She lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon. Arsanios obtained her MFA from the University of the Arts, London, in 2007 and currently is a researcher in the fine arts department at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht. She has been granted the artist’s residency at the Arab Image Foundation, Beirut, in 2009 and the research residency at the Tokyo Wonder Site in 2010. She participated in numerous group exhibitions including No Soul forSale, Tate Modern, London (2010), the 12th Istanbul Biennial (2011) and the Liverpool Biennial (2012). 

Through a strategy of collecting and archiving, Marwa Arsianos examines historic traces relating to the modernization of the Arabic states in the 1960s. Her focus is on urban planning in Lebanon’s capital Beirut, where she reinterprets buildings, publications and events in a process of study and appropriation. Hovering on the boundary between reality and fiction, the resulting work is a series of archival installations, texts, films and performances that reflect on the contemporary politico-social issues in the Middle East from a historical perspective.

Watch the works and the video profile of the artist

For the PinchukArtCentre Arsianos continues her ongoing research into Al Hilal, a left-wing journal widely read in the Arabic world in the 1960s, which featured radical political texts. In spite of its great popularity, its contents never lead to much action. Arsianos exhibits her own Al Hilal journal in a dynamic performance installation, which centres on a complex process of collecting, appropriating, reinterpreting and reading.

“The jury awards Marwa Arsanios a special prize for the experimental nature of her installation and performative lecture. This project which involved the creation of an artist-book based on a popular Egyptian journal of the late 60ties questions the passage from decolonisation to the myths of the spacerace while underlining the continuity of gender and justice towards women. Her work places the viewer /listener in a position of intimacy with the reader/performer which instantiates the visitor an an important material of the artwork.”