[2012] Dinosaurs

Video installation by Mounira al Solh. Cinematographer: Karam Ghossein. Screened at Art in General, New York – HomeWorks, Beirut – CCA Glasgow , Scotland. Commissioned by Art in General, New York.

In Dinosaurs, Al Solh directs friends and family members to reenact scenes from existing or non-existing films wherein the act of drinking reveals moments of intimacy, aggression, and physiological interactions created by the “actors” who actively participate in the interpretation of each scene. Their characters live in an eternal, unstable present and their locations, marked mostly by darkness, are illuminated by the intensity of those who inhabit them. While alcohol evaporates from the body—a witness to political aggression, socio-economic changes, and religious contrasts—the body deals with the simple gesture of drinking, without it being judged. Dinosaurs’ fragmented sometimes loud or silent scenes build a fragile portrait of a place in flux, a loose account that unravels and unhinges with each raised bottle or glass pointed at the mouth.

Dinosaurs takes its inspiration from four different films by John Cassavetes. Culling vignettes from Opening Night, Faces, Husbands, and The Killing of A Chinese Bookie, Al Solh directs her friends to reenact specific scenes wherein the act of drinking reveals moments of intimacy, aggression, and loneliness. Invoking Cassavetes as both a means of study and a lens, Al Solh reflects on the relationship between substance and evaporation, exploring how alcohol can become instrumental in confronting fate. Dinosaurs’ fragmented scenes build a fragile portrait of a place in flux, a loose narrative that continues to unravel and unhinge with each drink. At once claustrophobic, circular and tense, Al Solh’s reinterpretation of Cassavetes creates a space of suspended chaos.

Mounira Al Solh was born in Beirut in 1978. She studied painting at the Lebanese University in Beirut (LB), and Fine Arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam (NL). Between 2006 and 2008, she was a resident at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Al Solh’s New Commissions project at Art in General was her first solo exhibition in New York. Her work was also featured in The Ungovernables, The Second New Museum Triennial, 2012, and in the 5th Bucharest Biennale, 2012.

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