The Search for Power

On a night with a sudden electricity outage in their Beirut neighbourhood, the artist and her historian husband discussed the history of power cuts in Lebanon. Born during the Lebanese Civil War, the artist had grown up with the understanding that the problem with electricity in Lebanon began during the war. The historian, however, recalled finding a government document dated 1952 that announced scheduled electricity outages across Beirut. The two decided to research the history of power outages in Lebanon, delving into the intersection between public utilities infrastructure, people’s relationship to the state, and various popular mobilizations to shape both.

In time, they reach as far back as the introduction of electricity in Beirut before it was even possible to imagine a Lebanese state. In space, they collect documents across Lebanon and beyond its borders, visiting the archives of colonial powers: Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. What they find is a transnational story that locates electricity at the intersection of colonial legacies, the machinations of political and economic elites, and everyday acts of resistance, survival, and sabotage. The Search for Power is a lecture and installation performance featuring the artist, the historian, and the audience.

 

Credits

Lecture performance installation by Tania El Khoury 2018
in collaboration with Ziad Abu-Rish
Performance: Tania El Khoury, Ziad Abu-Rish, and Petra Abousleiman
Research: Ziad Abu-Rish with support from Owain Lawson and Joelle Boutros
Graphic Design: Jana Traboulsi
Production Design: Petra Abousleiman
Sound Design: Ali Beidoun
Dramaturgy: Deborah Pearson

Co-commissioned by Anti Festival and Shubbak Festival. Supported by Arts Council England and brut Wien.

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