Europe

Joana Hadjithomas & Khalil Joreige
Rocket Society. Restaged series

Rocket Society refers to a space project led by a group of Armenian researchers at the beginning of the 1960s. They created the first Middle Eastern rocket and carried out a dozen launches. Today, there is a kind of amnesia related to this space program while at that time the newspapers would talk about it frequently; a postal stamp was even issued for the occasion. This event does not correspond to the idea one has, when thinking of Lebanese history. In Lebanon, there are only a few pictures and newspaper clippings remaining from this research. However, the initiator of the project lives in Florida and he has saved a great number of archives that the artists used for their project.

This work highlights the process related to omission and concealment but also the way history is written.

Joreige and Hadjithomas reproduce in a real scale the most emblematic eight meter high Cedar 4 rocket. Its transportation out of Lebanon, in order to make photographs of it, required a lot of negotiation with the army and the police. Although, originally these rockets had been designed in a Protestant university conducted by a reverend, as a gesture of peace and guided by a belief in progress, today these objects have become a synonym of war and are interpreted above all as missiles.

The reenactment proposed by Joreige and Hadjithomas does not refer only to the past. It takes place in the present to offer the possibility of a new way of thinking and writing Lebanon’s past and future. At that time it was mainly the project of researchers and dreamers who were fighting against communitarian society and micro-powers. This reenactment of the rocket’s transportation reveals that this scientific project would be unconceivable today. The photographs are real shots and not photomontages, that have been taken in specific places of the city.

Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige are two Franco-Lebanese collaborating artists and filmmakers, who have worked together for fifteen years. Their work focuses on the production of images and representations of Lebanese and Middle Eastern history.