Beyond the Sea.
A set of 16 works, composed each one with a photo and its short comment by the artist.
Ari Akkermans, No Longer and Not Yet.
Sargologo’s Au-delà de la Mer (Beyond the Sea) is a lyric lamentation on the visual syntax of a city that he does not attempt to recreate, but simply to highlight its more essential qualities. It is not the nostalgia of mourning but of something circulating, vivid and present. The photographs, taken in Beirut in the 1980s, were lost and then many years later found and torn apart from their memory environment, then re-staged not as continuity, but in a voyeuristic manner: Mere glimpses accompanied by texts written thirty years later. The oscillating images do not strike us as pop art or an archive. They are a casual monument to happiness and do not indulge in the distance of the physical ruin. They are close and warm. Yet they’re very far away. Their power lies in the impossibility to become real now.
Something familiar emerges in Sargologo’s work. The coffee tables behind which missing relatives were awaited. The family photos of those who never returned. A pristine Levantine garden abandoned when entire families left Lebanon to never return, but the fruits are still on the table, the trees are still blossoming. His places are more real and tangible than the battlefields. These places still exist in the debris out of which a collective is re-mapped and made understandable. The emotional distance from the images attests to the fact they were excavated and presented as autonomous objects with muted meanings. The texts are poetic but candid, almost invisible, from a ghost-world. But they are crystal clear as the site of happiness.
Sargologo toy with the apocalyptic imaginary in the traditional sense – a symbolic universe that codifies an interpretation of reality leading towards another world; the images are not left alone to speak by themselves. In this parallel world, heaven descends upon earth and in turn, the earth ascends into an inferno. The project of history is intercepted by the crude logic of the present, in which the trail of contradictions implodes into a heterogeneous viscous substance.
Unlike photography of war, the two Lebanese photographers are not in search of moral images that can elicit explicit reactions - fear, dread, disgust, pain, horror - but rather singularities; undefined, loose, smothered. Irredentism is a commonplace in their work, and by negating the possibility of redemptive and redeemed images, they place themselves at the edges of laughter. A laughter that is neither comic nor sinister, but a crystalline affirmation of the necessity to live without illusions, at the edge of a volcano, turning this into something marvelous and heart-breaking, while at the same time frightening and mysterious.