Renegade Lebanese Artist Rabih Mroué Makes US Debut
Performance Space 122 will present the highly anticipated U.S. debut of renegade Lebanese artist Rabih Mroué. As part of PS 122’s annual performance festival, COIL, Mroué offers the American premiere of Looking for a Missing Employee, a multi-media performance detailing the disturbing case of a missing employee and the political factors responsible for his disappearance; and the world premiere of The Pixelated Revolution, which was commissioned by the 2010 Spalding Gray Award.
Following the performances at COIL, Mroué will embark on his first North American tour, which includes the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, On the Boards in Seattle, PuSh Festival in Vancouver, and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.
Three performances of Looking for a Missing Employee will take place Jan 6–8 (see schedule above) and one performance of The Pixelated Revolution will take place on Jan 9 at 7:30pm at the Howard Gillman Performance Space at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Critics are welcome as of the first night for each performance, which will also serve as the official opening. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students, seniors) and can be purchased online at ps122.org or by phone at 212.352.3101. The Baryshnikov Arts Center is located at 450 West 37th Street in New York City.
Rabih Mroué belongs to a tight-knit generation of artists that keeps Beirut at the forefront of the international artistic and cultural scene. His unique interdisciplinary work exists at the crossroads of theater, performance, and the visual arts. Mroué’s storytelling pits facts against made-up truths and propaganda that are imbued with a peculiar sense of humor. His aesthetic is visually striking, honed from years exhibiting work in European galleries and museums. In Beirut, he is known for controversial work that reflects his country’s political climate. The Lebanese Interior Ministry banned his 2007 performance piece about that country’s civil war, How Nancy Wished That Everything Was an April Fools’ Joke. The ban was later reversed. In 2008, he starred alongside Catherine Deneuve in the film I Want to See, which detailed the effects of the Lebanese Civil War. A respected visual artist, Mroué made his UK debut in 2011 with the solo exhibition, The People Are Demanding, at Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) at the Rivington Place gallery.
In the American premiere of Looking for a Missing Employee, Mroué uses newspaper clippings to detail a disturbing case of a missing employee and the larger political and economic factors responsible for his disappearance. Based on true events, the work combines found narrative with projection and live video feed to illuminate the elusive nature of personal history and national memory. In this intriguing and timely performance puzzle, Mroué explores questions of presence, absence and documentation for individuals and society at large. Looking for a Missing Employee is a charming, yet unflinching tale that unearths the mutable realities of daily life in Lebanon and the ever-increasing skepticism that swirls around Middle Eastern leadership.
In the World premiere performance lecture The Pixelated Revolution, Mroué explores the role social media and mobile phones played during the recent Syrian revolution. Using the lens of the avant-garde filmmaking movement Dogme 95, he examines the cell phone and its ability to photograph and distribute images and information not only across a neighborhood, but throughout the world.
Rabih Mroué lives and works in Beirut. He is an actor, director, playwright, and visual artist who began putting on his own plays, performances, and videos in 1990. Using a multidisciplinary approach, Mroué attempts to expand the definition of theater. He plays with space and form and questions the audience’s role in performance. His work draws attention to the broader political and economic climate in Lebanon through semi-documentary theater.
In 2010, he was awarded the Spalding Gray Award. The award, named after Gray, the monologist who died in 2004, is sponsored by a consortium that includes Kathleen Russo, Gray’s wife; Performance Space 122; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; and On the Boards in Seattle. It comes with a stipend to create a new work and provides for a full production of that work by each organization.