Through projects spanning the disciplines of theater, performance, music, and visual art, Rabih Mroué (Lebanon, b. 1967) engages with the contemporary politics of the Middle East and the enmeshed history of discord in the region, often drawing from his personal experience of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). Taking many forms, his work often interweaves history, testimony, and storytelling to destabilize facts and fictions. A triptych of projects—the world premiere of the theater work Borborygmus, a gallery installation of new work, and a lecture-performance—were realized by Mroué and presented as part of or in tandem with the Walker’s Out There series (January 2019).
In Borborygmus, a Walker-commissioned dramatic-comic theater piece by Mroué and collaborators Mazen Kerbaj and Lina Majdalanie, the performers’ identities and judgements of one another shift as the taboos, fears, and failures of their lives and countries are laid bare (January 11–12, 2019). Mroué also presented Sand in the Eyes, a lecture-performance on the image politics of Islamist recruiting videos, contrasted with imagery shot by US drones. The gallery presentation Again we are defeated (December 20, 2018–March 1, 2020) highlights Mroué’s latest cycle of artworks, including drawings, collages, and videos, in which the Berlin-based artist considers the repeated cycles of violence affecting people of the Middle East by examining his own encounters with the conflict as mediated through the news. As the artist serially tracks the recurring impressions of conflict, the works form an homage to the phantom presence of the dead.