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Revolutionary art show asserts universal right to exhibit
1/25/2017
Safa Jafari Safa  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
Revolutionary art show asserts universal right to exhibit

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​Equal freedom was the theme of the Proletkult Exhibition set up at the AUB Bank Byblos Art Gallery in Ada Dodge Hall by the Mashrou' Proletkult Committee to display art, any art, by any artist, from anywhere in the world.

Responding to a universalizing call to “everyone considering themselves an artist – in and outside of Lebanon," were more than 140 artists from Lebanon, Syria, Italy, Austria, USA, Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Australia, showcasing paintings, video arts, installations, and sculptures of different styles, concepts, and creations.

From Lebanon, students and professors participated from AUB's Fine Arts and Art History, and Architecture departments, along with alumni and other artists affiliated with various institutions, such as Ashkal Alwan Plastic Arts Association, the Lebanese Association of Painters and Sculptors (LAPS), the Lebanese American University (LAU), the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts –ALBA at the University of Balamand, and various Armenian cultural centers, such as the Hamazkayin Art Center.

The exhibit's concept was explained in a manifesto issued by the Committee listing principles such as “Every artist must have the right to exhibit his or her art", “Artistic production must play a greater role in public cultural discourse", and “In the future emancipated society, everyone will be an artist not a curator."

The term Proletkult is derived from the experimental art institution “proletarskaya kultura" which sprang from the ferment of the October 1917 Bolshevik revolution with the goal of encouraging mass participation in the making of a new progressive art and culture that serves as many artists and as large a public as possible.

In Lebanon during the 1960s, there was a similar project on the stairs of the International College (IC) next to AUB. The project was organized by James and Samia Sullivan and was called “Open Door Art Exhibition" or “Open Air Art Exhibition".

Curator of the AUB Art Galleries Octavian Esanu said, “Mashrou' Proletkult" was a reaction to recent institutional developments in Lebanon's arts scene. In an attempt to allow access to more artists to showcase their work, “Mashrou' Proletkult" was placed within a tradition of art exhibitions that sought to make a radical democratic break away from traditional selection processes of what makes an art piece and invigorates a shift in a traditional paradigm – also evident in the Salon des Refusés (Exhibition of Rejects) that arose in the decades after the French revolution.

“We are bringing this historical experience into the reality of our contemporary age away from elitist neoliberal cultural policy, towards making a contribution to a more democratic and egalitarian culture," Esanu told us.

An All-Artist-Congress was held after the exhibit launch where artists were invited to deliver a speech or talk about the most urgent problems in contemporary art and culture and propose ways to solve them. No agenda, frame, or topic were preset. All artists were encouraged to have their say and make their voices heard.
Story Highlights
  • ​​​​​Equal freedom was the theme of the Proletkult Exhibition set up at the AUB Bank Byblos Art Gallery in Ada Dodge Hall by the Mashrou' Proletkult Committee to display art, any art, by any artist, from anywhere in the world.
 
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