09 January 2007

Art Lounge, Beirut

Back in October I went to the Art Lounge here in Beirut to see a friend's show of photographs from all around Asia. The rather large prints of her work were impressive and I now own three of them (christmas presents from my very put-upon spouse. I mean really. Who would want the task of buying me presents?). While I was at the show, I picked up a freebee postcard to go with the invitation to the show (left).

So, since I'm all interested in the arts and I'm here in Beirut, and the two intersect oh so infrequently, I thought I'd write about the experience at the lounge. First, they aren't kidding about being a lounge. It’s basically a bar/night club with art on the walls. I've never been to any show there except my friend's, so I don't know what else they have had there, so I can't tell you about the general quality of the art side of the "Art Lounge" business. Knowing that there is a lot more night-clubbing than art-going happening in this city, I'd have to guess that they are definitely an ok lounge and as for the general standard of the art . . . who knows.
They had a nice little book/gift shop, but without any art games I went away a bit disappointed. As for the location, it is fairly easy to get to, which is not a given in Beirut. They're right off the Dora highway right at the edge of the Beirut city limits, in just the kind of place that looks just the way dangerous places in the US look. Funny how my whole visual lexicon of places to avoid has been turned on its ear in this place.
Anyway, as a viewer in the gallery/lounge, I was very aware that I was being watched. People lounging with their drinks who might glance over at the exhibition would not be able to help glancing at me too. In a dedicated gallery, you've basically got a definite visual focus--the stuff on display. Everyone is there to see it. But start putting out chairs, tables, finger food and drinks, and all of a sudden, my viewership is being included in the viewership of others.
So, its sort of a strange place--a strange viewing experience. But the lounge makes art a little less rare around here, and that's a step in the right direction.


Matthew said...

Buying presents for you does require a lot of background info, but I rather like it.

Dad said...

To bad you found this place after I visit. I could develop a reputation of being an art lounger. Is that a good thing?

Dad said...

That is also supposed to be "too" and not "to". The fingers are just not working well tonight at all.

Mary Ann said...

Why not? If you're going to drink and generally waste time in public, you might as well see some art too.