An abstract documentary-style video, several small floor architectural installations, and large-scale biological drawings constitute Lebanese artist-activist Marwa Arsanios’ exhibition Falling is not collapsing, falling is extending over the two floors of Parisian gallery mor charpentier. A sobering take on the 2014 Lebanese garbage crisis and its implications, the show has an economic edge, walking the line between art and a sharp wake up call.
Named after the video on show, Falling is not collapsing, falling is extending, the eponymous eight-minute film depicts the changing Beirut landscape, from frothy contaminated water to bulldozers, with quiet explanations of how real estate oligarchs build dumps kilometres from Beirut’s center to devalue land so as to buy it cheaper later. The visual impact reinforces how Beirut’s territory is engaged in a cycle of destruction and reconstruction.
Arsanios also draws parallels between the recent real estate boom, the crisis and the neoliberal economic projects of the 1990s through copious research, which appears through the monochromatic floor pieces. The works are literal and simple, but visceral. The show addresses what happens when politics and ecology merge, suggesting the impending death of a landscape most poignantly through the architectural, monochromatic floor sculptures. They reference how Lebanon’s trash is collecting in the Mediterranean, and has found itself is in a circumstance where its buildings are supported by land extensions formed by waste. But while Arsanios’s works present a bleak reality, it presents a silver lining – albeit, a worrying one – the scientific drawings of flora depict organic matter that has evolved to survive and thrive in the landfills.
The exhibition runs until 28 July at Mor Charpentier in Paris. Mor-charpentier.com