Architecture and Art

​​​This is the Time. This is the Record of the Time​

Edited by Angela Harutyunyan and Nat Muller
This Is the Time. This Is the Record of the Time is a hybrid anthology of commissioned art and written works on the subject of capturing time and temporality, representing a collaboration between the American University of Beirut Art Galleries and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Nowadays, there is a common perception that time is accelerating. The need to pause, slow down, and regain ground has become a necessity, to grasp our “Runaway World,” as Anthony Giddens aptly terms it. Critically evaluating this precious commodity, time, with thoughts grounded philosophically, historically, and in terms of media theory allows for a more in-depth discussion on the perception of time and how recording it affects its perception and treatment. 

The experience of time is mediated by the technologies that record it. Quoting the introduction, “Thinking about Time: Proposition” by one of the editors, Angela Harutyunyan (p. 23), the book proposes “that to think time and to experience the time of thinking makes oneself out of joint with time or, rather, with the notions of temporality that dominate our epoch.”  

  • ​Concept Note​​
    • Jump out of the plane. 
    • There is no pilot. 
    • You are not alone. 
    • Standby. 
    • This is the time. And this is the record of the time. 
    • This is the time. And this is the record of the time. 
    • (Laurie Anderson, “From the Air”, Big Science, 1982)
The exhibit from which this book developed was held first in Amsterdam (September 2014) and later in Beirut (March–July 2015) accompanied by a symposium. The book’s intriguing contents will be of interest to artists, curators, art historians, philosophers, and other scholars and students of arts and humanities interested in theoretical and art critical debates on temporality and questions pertaining to time and history.

English, 2016, 164 pages, $26
ISBN 978-9953-586-20-5​

Mute Movements: A Collective Performance Art Journey: Beirut, 2009–2014

Cornelia Krafft
The first book of its kind in Lebanon, Mute Movements documents the emergence of a Performance Art scene in Lebanon under the direction of Cornelia Krafft, artist, choreographer, and former assistant professor at the American University of Beirut. The book illustrates the collective work of students and artists (aged 19 to 25) exploring their everyday challenges and concerns through the medium of performance.

Captured in high-quality photographs and narrated through the performers’ own words, Mute Movements invites the reader to embark on an inspirational journey through modern-day Lebanon as seen through the eyes of these young artists striving to confront internal and external challenges on the personal, national, and regional levels.

Their “mute” performances, situated in provocative locations, demanded attention and triggered debate. Played out in unorthodox settings – abandoned buildings, war ruins, along the sea shore, in city streets and run-down cinemas – these performances required almost as much of the spectators as of the players with their fundamental questioning of issues of collective relevance: social responsibility, personal and regional identity, cultural heritage, censorship, conflict, freedom, and repression.

The book’s minimalistic aesthetic and design enfold a wealth of artistic images, an extraordinary record of the evolution of Performance Art in Lebanon across five fertile years of artistic endeavor. Across the pages of the book, each performance unfolds in documentary-like fashion, revealing the extent to which contemporary education in the fields of performance, set design, and visual arts can engage and inspire its audiences. While the focus is on Lebanon and its youth, the bigger picture is a work in progress with relevance extending far beyond the borders of one small country, making Mute Movements a valuable and highly enjoyable reference work of international importance.

English, 2015, 303 pages, hardcover, $40 
ISBN 978-9953-586-17-5

Revolution/Evolution: Two Decades and Four Hundred Designers Later

Edited by Leila Musfy 
In commemoration of the first 20 years of the Graphic Design Program at the American University of Beirut, this book profiles the professional work of many of its graduates, whose pursuit of excellence in design has transformed the face of the region.

English with Arabic sections, 2013, 224 pages, hard cover, $65. 
ISBN 978-9953-9025-5-5

Lebanese Painterly Humanism: Georges D. Corm [1896–1971]

Edited by Octavian Esanu
This is a republication of Georges D. Corm’s 1966 Essai sur l'art et la civilisation de ce temps with Arabic and English translations and additional texts. The book has accompanied the exhibition “Lebanese Painterly Humanism: Georges D. Corm [1896–1971]” organized at AUB Art Gallery in the fall of 2013.

With the Essai sur l'art et la civilisation de ce temps, Georges D. Corm brings the lasting dispute of artistic tradition versus innovation to Lebanon, allowing it to interfere and resonate even more strongly within a local cultural context sharply divided along conflicting economic, political, ethnic, religious, and cultural interests. Written in the 1960s as humanism was increasingly losing ground to a boldly emerging modernist worldview, the author firmly takes the side of a classical European tradition that he sees as perfect fit for the young state of Lebanon. In the Essai, Corm vehemently condemns the Moderns of his own time – twentieth-century Modernism, – affirming instead his faith in Faith, human dignity, classical beauty, and spiritual perfection.

In addition to the Arabic insert and the original essay published in French, the book also contains Georges G. Corm’s biography of his father, an art critical text by Octavian Esanu, and an extended bibliography.

English (with some Arabic and French), 2013, 144 pages, soft-cover, $25.
ISBN 978-9953-586-08-3

Critical Machines - (Exhibition and Conference at AUB Art Galleries)

Edited by Octavian Esanu
This publication is dedicated to a 2014 exhibition and conference at AUB entitled Critical Machines. For the exhibition, we borrowed the metaphor of the “critical machine” from the language of modern labor processes and manufacturing equipment. A “critical machine” is a piece of equipment that is programmed to monitor and report on other machines in the production chain. Critical machines are deployed as preventive maintenance measures to guard against equipment malfunction and the disruption of the flow of production. In other words, a critical machine is a robot overseeing other robots.

For the exhibition, we extended this metaphor to the contemporary global art world, inviting artists whose work performs a role similar to that of robotic critical machines – artists who address, represent, or comment on not the world at large (as artists have done for centuries), but on the state of the art world itself. The artist as critical machine is the artist as critic, art historian, or reporter who closely monitors the condition of artistic production, display, and distribution.

For the accompanying symposium, we re-applied the metaphor of the critical machine to look at and discuss the practices by which one monitors and comments on artists, their work, or the art scene as such. Today, art journals, art magazines, newsletters, websites, and blogs are the critical machines that monitor artists and their interactions within the cultural field. These periodicals often serve a gatekeeping function, endorsing and determining what counts as legitimate art, or criticizing and even excluding “foreign bodies,” or experiences and practices that might disrupt and destabilize the established art system. The book presents the artists in the exhibition and the editors of art journals and magazines who participated in the conference.

English (with some Arabic), 2014, 87 pages, soft-cover, $25. 
ISBN 978-9953-586-10-6

The Image of the Word: A Study of Quranic Verses in Islamic Architecture

Erica Cruikshank Dodd and Shereen Khairallah
In Islam, the concept that the word was revealed to man in its highest and final form in the Qur'an has made this word the foundation of all Muslim artistic expression. In this study, the authors present a collection of the published transcriptions of Qur'anic inscriptions in Islamic monuments in order to determine how the inscriptions were used and what patterns, if any, might contribute to an appreciation of the religious content of a work of art. The study is limited to the world of medieval Islam, when religious foundations were at their greatest strength, most vital, and found their most integrated expression. The inscriptions presented are taken from Jerusalem, Cairo, and Damascus.

Volume I presents the text and photographs of the inscriptions, while Volume II provides three indices of the Qur'anic verses, in order of the suras, used geographically and according to their places in the buildings.

English, 1981, Volume I: 91 pages, Volume II: 325 pages, hard cover, $25 each.