statement

In my paintings walls are ever present; walls from our town, walls from other town, walls from no where, they bear war’s imprint the are dwelling in our memory. The medium is the witness of a process of an image construction in which memories inquiries and emotions create every time a new aesthetic experiment. I retrieve in my paintings part of the memory of my youth lived in beirut. These paintings include a series of textures,extracts of writing,torn bits which are the metaphor of a belonging crisis and a quest in the territory of identity. In this exploration, a dialectical confrontation between memories, emotions and new events. This dialogue defines the actions which affect the medium and the connections that are established between colors, textures and hidden symbols thus painting becomes an action with its on history which develops through my pictorial practice.

Process

The proceeding that supports the creation of my paintings trickles from an aesthetic of the trace. There are two phases to the work: one is controllable while the other trickles from a game of forced coincidence. It is all a game of haphazard which brings a surge to the texture with a basis signifying time. It is a way of hiding and discovering to bring signs carrying ambiguity between their status of blood bearer and their status of illegible signs.

We use two glued canvases, and by using a pulling method one stays and the other one is removed. That which remains carries traces and that which is gone becomes its accomplice. The pulling of material becomes the metaphor of the pulling of the place of culture of origin. The material becomes the traces of human conduct of an emotional historic charge, of a research of origins.

The material becomes a medium of expression because it is the infrastructure of the relationship between man and culture, a story lived by memory. The space of the canvas is a fixed surface that becomes a territory where interior and exterior imply a reference to architectural elements that frame daily activities. Walls doors and windows become metaphors of a painting in search of a fundamental unity.

Barcode

The bar code has become the icon that is most present in our world today. We see it everywhere, on merchandise, objects, and on whatever we use in our daily lives. It is there to identify each unique element. Even we, as individuals are identified with a bar code, as in our passport. We are all branded which allows the system to control our history of activities.
Through diverse communication media, the government and business organizations around the world accelerate consumption, a conspiracy where we have become the pawns of the game. Especially with advancing technology, our global economic system creates an addiction to consumption. An individual’s identity depends on the social and cultural environment, the family milieu, the surroundings, and the place where one is brought up. Furthermore, the identity evolves from personal experiences and social displacement. Civil identity (technical identification) is necessary in a civil order to manage our society as a group within the borders, in a geographical territory to limit and identify our space.
A civil identity such as a birth certificate or other, alone, cannot determine our social belonging. It is not our origins. Our identity stems from our memories through all their senses. We are our memories, but our native land is not what defines us. We are made out of all the lands we have inhabited, all those which have filled our senses. Each one of them is a fragment of our essence. They make each one of us unique. The fragmented mirror bar code is a self-reflection of our fragmented identity. The physical confrontation of the viewers facing a bar code reflects their image and standardizes a commercial imposed political identity. They can either assimilate or ask questions, reflect or do their own social investigation. It is our destiny as humans to be constantly confronted with mystery, the unknown, the necessity of reinventing ourselves.

Joseph Chahfé

Webmestre HMF