“A tormenting thought: as of a certain point, history was no longer real. Without noticing it, all mankind suddenly left reality; everything happening since then was supposedly true; but we supposedly didn’t notice. Our task would now be to find that point, and as long as we didn’t have it, we would be forced to abide in our present destruction.”
Elias Canetti (1978)
The Home Works Forum is a multidisciplinary project that brings together artists, writers and intellectuals to present their work. Organized by Ashkal Alwan, it takes place every eighteen months in exhibition and performance venues throughout Beirut, and presents lectures, panel discussions, screenings, debates and artistic interventions (by established and emerging artists).
As a title, the term ‘Home Works’ suggests an intertwining of public and private spheres, the outside world of work and the inside space of home. In referring to the exercises, lessons and research problems worked out by students repetitively and in solitude, ‘Home Works’ implies a process of internal excavation, digging and burrowing deeper all the while constructing and accumulating new practices.
This fourth edition proposes for thematic axes disaster, catastrophe, recomposing desire and sex practices. From the experience of organizing three editions of the Home Works Forum, it is no longer self-evident to assume that such a platform make for true dialogue and cultural exchange possible. What it allows for however is a productive space in which political, social, economic realities can be explored, reflected, made manifest as visual and verbal articulations that occur with some consistency. These articulations have become our obsession.
The first edition of the Home Works Forum opened in early April 2002, coincided with the outbreak of the Second Intifada in Palestine, the second edition opened in late October of 2003, after a six-months delay due to regional upheavals caused by the US invasion of Iraq, the third edition was due to take place in mid-November 2005, again after a 6-months delay due to the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in February 2005. At this point the Home Works Forum has (we think) settled into a regular schedule of regular disruptions. This unpredictable dynamic has become a rhythm, a paradoxical routine. Because the practical and political circumstances around our work are always breaking and shifting relevant questions about dislocation and disruption have imposed themselves repeatedly.
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