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.
The Pixelated Revolution is commissioned by the 2010 Spalding Gray Award (Performance Space 122 in New York, The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, On the Boards in Seattle, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis).
About Performance Space 122
For over 3 decades, Performance Space 122 has been a hub for contemporary performance and an active member of the cultural community in N.Y.C. and across the globe. In 1980, the organization was founded by Charles Moulton, Charles Dennis, Tim Miller and Peter Rose to offer artists rehearsal and performance opportunities in the revamped cafeteria of a former New York City public school (PS 122) at the corner of First Avenue and Ninth Street in New York’s East Village. In 1986, under the artistic direction of Mark Russell, the organization doubled its programming by converting the gymnasium on the first floor of the school building into a second performance space. Over the past 30 Years, PS122 has brought forward not only artists, like John Leguizamo, Jonathan Ames, Eric Bogosian, the Blue Man Group or Annie Dorsen who have gone on to make waves in commercial arenas on Broadway or at HBO, but also artists who have triggered national debate about political and ethical issues, like the original “NEA four”, Ethyl Eichelberger (HIV/AIDS activist), or more recently Young Jean Lee and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (contemporary social critiques), as well as artists who have radicalized aesthetic form like Meredith Monk, Spalding Gray, Ron Athey, Richard Maxwell, Elevator Repair Service, Radiohole, Adrienne Truscott, Verdensteatret (Norway), Rabih Mroué (Lebanon), Philippe Quesne (France), and Maria Hassabi (Cyprus).
In the past 7 years, under the curatorial vision of Artistic Director Vallejo Gantner, PS122 has developed a set of Presenting Programs that include commissions and presentations of New York, national and International Artists working in contemporary performance, theater, dance, multi-disciplinary, new music, media and installations. All of the programs at PS122 have been designed to further the creative process for our artists and launch them into more sustainable careers. In the last two years PS122 has shifted focus to better serve audiences, both locally, nationally and internationally by advocating and building partnerships across the globe. The results of these efforts have benefited our artists by increasing their local exposure and earning capacity, and by expanding their touring opportunities and therefore also the life-span and reach of their works.
Beginning this season, PS122 has embarked on one of the most unusual and potentially radical shifts in the 30-year history of Performance Space 122, its artists, and its community, including a re-structuring of our artist support, a business model overhaul, and the renovation of our building. As PS122’s East Village home undergoes a much-needed interior renovation supported primarily by the City of New York, DCA and DDC, PS122’s core activity continues to be providing audiences with contemporary live performance.
Performance Space 122 receives support from the following organizations: Alacran, American Association of Performing Arts Presenters: Cultural Exchange Fund, Axe-Houghton Foundation, The Booth Ferris Foundation, Edith C. Blum Foundation, British Council, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Continuum Health, Crumpler, Culture Ireland, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Eastern Bloc, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Gawker Media, Gesso Foundation, Grayson Maine, Great Brewers, The Greenwall Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, Jerome Foundation, Jerome Robbins Foundation, Jewish Communal Fund, The Lambent Foundation, Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for the Arts/The New York Community Trust, Mary Queen of Scots, McGraw Hill Companies, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New York Theater Program, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, The Morrison & Foerster Foundation, Monsieur Touton, National Performance Network (NPN), New England Foundation for the Arts/National Dance Project (NDP), New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council for the Arts, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, San Arturo, Peg Santvoord Foundation, Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust, The Puffin Foundation, The Scherman Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, SPiN New York, Time Warner Cable, Tony Randall Theatrical Fund, Trust for Mutual Understanding, Two Boots, Vbar St. Marks and Veselka.