Middle East & Africa

Mounira Al Solh
My specialty was to make a peasants’ haircut, but they obliged me work till midnight often

In 2011, Mounira Al Solh began a series of drawings that documented her meetings and conversations with displaced Syrian refugees in Lebanon and in various European countries. The oral histories she collected are very different from those told in administrative interviews or police interviews. My specialty was to make a peasants’ haircut, but they obliged me work till midnight often(2017) is part of a series of embroideries that speaks to how personal stories in this political context create collective history. The artists conversations inspire her to write a few sentences that try to get as close as possible to the personality of the embroidered subject. Visual elements enrich the story. The artist worked collaboratively with immigrant women during their meetings, which allowed her to establish exchanges around a project and create a community. Her method is not that of a historian but the creation of safe spaces of listening and dialogue. Embroidery involves an intimate relationship to time and moves away from the more mechanical practices of photography or documentary video. This work is a transcription of a moment recalling the physical and visual relationship that is at stake in a meeting.

Mounira Al Solh's art practice embraces inter alia drawing, painting, embroidery, performative gestures, video and video installations. Irony and self-reflectivity are central strategies for her work, which explores feminist issues, tracks patterns of microhistory, is socially engaged, and can be political and escapist all at once.  Self-reflexivity is present in her work, and for several years she has been collecting stories and personal experiences provokes by the political and humanitarian crises in Syria and, more broadly, in the Middle East.