How often do you engage in meaningful conversation? Or, do you find yourself more and more stuck in a rut it seems of a pseudo conversation, where everyone is talking but nothing is really hitting home. Does it feel like the dialogue you have with others or hear going on around you are surface level and add nothing to life as we know it? As political issues perpetuate and society to continue in a state of flux it really only seems natural that we all become a bit tone-deaf to our environment.
This is exactly what Lebanese artist Nadim Karam deals with in his new kinetic sculpture titled Politics of Dialogue: The Merry-Go-Round. The large-scale work by Karam will be part of the upcoming ‘Personal Structures’ exhibition hosted by the European Cultural Centre (ECC), which runs alongside the Venice Biennale from May 11th through November 24th.
Politics of Dialogue consists of seven large elongated megaphone-like forms – some even resemble earbuds – that sit atop a black platform. The figures face inwards towards each other as though deep in conversation. True to its name, the platform rotates to the sound of merry-go-round music and in time, each of the megaphones lifts up above the others before descending down as another rises up. As each figure rises up, it signifies that that one has taken the lead of the discussion; however, the discussion, the dialogue is cyclical and continues to go around and around.
The work seeks to ‘[tackle] the underlying paradox of ineffective communication in an era marked by hypoconnectivity.’ Karam, no stranger to dealing with and responding to difficult social and political topics, reflects on dialogue and the ‘crises of communication’ within today’s world through the artwork.
‘Dialogue assumes the creation of a level playing field; however, it often happens in isolation from the area or population of concern becoming thus futile and obsolete,’ says Karam of his installation in a press release. ‘Politics of Dialogue is about communication confined in a bubble. The longer the dialogue, the more deafening it becomes. It is a trapped dialogue, rotating upon itself, and offered to the observer on a shiny platter.’
Trained as an architect in Beirut and Tokyo, he went on to teach architecture and design. Throughout his career, Karam has worked as a multidisciplinary artist creating works of sculpture, architecture, painting, and drawing. In 1996, Karam founded Atelier Hapsitus, an interdisciplinary group with which he realized a number of works and projects around the globe. His early works, like Age of Anxiety, tended towards works on paper but more recently, he has worked three-dimensionally as is the case with Politics of Dialogue and his recent series Shout and Silence. Throughout his body of work, though, his works ‘[extract] playful absurdity from adversity, pointing to the multilayered complexities of our societies.’
Politics of Dialogue, and the other works included in the ECC’s ‘Personal Structures’ can be found in Marinaressa Gardens in Venice and are free to visit.