TAREK AL GHOUSSEIN & CHRIS KIENKE
Palestine/Kuwait - USA
Tarek Al-Ghoussein was born in 1962 in Kuwait of Palestinian parents. He received a BFA in Photography from New York University in 1985 and a MA in Photography from the University of New Mexico in 1989. He is currently an Associate Professor of Photography in the School of Architecture and Design at the American University of Sharjah. Prior to joining the university in 1998, he taught in the United Kingdom and Egypt. Recent work has appeared in international juried exhibits in the United States, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Holland and Syria. Tarek Al-Ghoussein's work is in permanent collections of institutions in Europe and the Middle East, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Darat Al Fanoon in Amman. Currently he resides and works in Sharjah, UAE. For further information about the artist please visit:
Chris Kienke, Professor of Foundations Studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design (2006-present) and Assistant Professor of Foundations and Design (2000-2006) American University of Sharjah, UAE ; obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (2000) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the Kansas City Art Institute (1994).. In May of 2004 he was invited to attend the Bottega del Bon Fresco in Florence, Italy. One of the completed bon fresco paintings was exhibited in L’Affresco e Strappo D’Affresco at the Palagio di Parte Guelfa, Piazzetta di Parte Guelfa, 1- Firenze, Italia. His work was recently purchased by ABN Amro Bank for inclusion into their corporate collection in Jan 2004. He completed a one-month residency in August 2003 at the Vermont Studio Center, Vermont, USA. He was invited to participate in the 6th Sharjah International Biennial, Sharjah, UAE, April 2003.
TAREK AL-GHOUISSEIN & CHRIS KIENE
THE WAR ROOM, 2004/05
Digital prints on flex material in light boxes
Courtesy of the artists
The dialogue generated by this project deals with questions of reality, experience and subjectivity. Working with digital cameras and tripods, we photographed over 1500 images from the television screen during the war. We were simultaneously photographing the events on our television screens in the same format and with the same intent without being aware of each other’s actions. Only after the end of the war was declared did we discover that we had each independently documented the television coverage.
The exhibited images are the result of numerous levels of filtration. Several of these levels preceded and limited the choices available to us. Countless decisions had been made before we had access to the imagery: the footage had been pre selected in its production, editing and broadcasting. In addition this project reflects the choices that we made (another level of filtration) about when to shoot. Banal aspects of our daily routines: work, sleep, eating, going to the bathroom, showering, shopping, phone calls, visits etc… What if you had to walk away from the television screen for 5 minutes? What did you miss? What images did we not capture? Questioning the power of the image and asking ourselves; which image to look at? Which one to photograph? Which one to delete? Which one to believe? Which one has bias? Which one is honest? Which one reveals too much? What is too much? Who decides the limits and what is restrained? When to change the channel? What did I miss while I was at work? When did these images occur? Exclusive, live, taped, pre-recorded…
Eventually boredom, disgust, disbelief, and over-stimulation caused us to change the channel - at times almost unconsciously. We gradually became aware of parallels between the images broadcast on the news and the images simultaneously found in other television programs. The topics/ points of view/ and visual information are given to us through the television. We are not creating the images, rather, we are selecting them. We do not claim the images as ours and we do not claim authorship of the images. What we do claim as our contribution is the display format, the re-contextualization of the images, when we chose to photograph and what we chose to photograph.
The work at once underlines the ultimate subjectivity of experience and highlights some of the limits within which individual opinions are formed.
Tarek Al-Ghoussein and Chris Kienke