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Public Sphere

Mayssa Kanaan

Mayssa Kanaan is a designer/artist from Beirut. After graduating from the American University of Beirut with a bachelor’s in Landscape Architecture and working at a design studio, she pursued an MA in Contemporary Art Practice to deepen her understanding in public sphere practices and theory. 

Her distinction-awarded dissertation, “Notes on Activating an Archive”, looks into the different archival practices from Egypt to Palestine. Throughout her academic years, she participated in group shows, such as the female-led exhibition, Mal(e)feasance at the Ugly Duck, London, and is currently working on a range of collaborative projects, such as FIENDS and JAM (@jam_issues).

Contact

@mayssakanaan

https://citylibrary.nfshost.com//loremipsum.html

Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Public Sphere

Following a research-based practice, Mayssa has been exploring different forms of archiving and publishing, as well as structures of display, by focusing not only on her work’s local agenda but also into wider contexts that expand its political engagement. 

More recently, she has been working on a nomadic library which includes an eclectic collection ranging from newspapers to personal objects found in abandoned houses around Beirut, as well as audio recordings highlighting the importance of oral narratives. The work manifests itself in different physical and digital forms by experimenting with radio-like episodes and informal on-site installations. 

The digital platform can be reached using this link.

The website is best supported on google chrome. It could take up to 3 minutes to load.
For tablets or mobile devices, be sure to flip to landscape mode.

City Library for Common Collections

City Library for Common Collections

In light of the Lebanese civil war, national history textbooks stop in 1943, the year the country gained its independence. Since 2019’s October mass protests, more citizens have been reclaiming their own means of publishing and installing public libraries, urging people to “read to get to know [their] history”.

City Library for Common Collections (CLCC) is a nomadic library holding collections of objects, images, newspapers and more, personally gathered from abandoned houses around Beirut or given by residents of old neighborhoods. The online platform urges people to go through its collections, visualize and listen to how old neighborhoods are growing, think of different ways of displaying eclectic archives and most importantly, share their objects and knowledge on existing ones. The library’s intent is not only to be part of a larger movement taking a step in getting to know our multiple histories, but also move forward from institutional archives.

For full access to the website, click on the link found in the 'statement' section above.

Medium:

Digital media.
ArchiveCollectionsDocumentationHeritageHistoriesInvestigationResearchStorytelling
Walkthrough 01. Collections

Walkthrough 01. Collections

Walkthrough 02. Collections

Walkthrough 02. Collections

The library’s collections are displayed in folders along with their respective information and pictures. The documentation process ranges from walking the streets of Beirut, discovering abandoned houses with broken windows or doors, and encountering leftover objects such as ornamental floor tiles, old magazines or photos.

Each object is accompanied by a narrative about the house it was found in, its old inhabitants and/or the context of the neighborhood which all relate to the city’s social and cultural heritage.

To look through the collections, visit the website using the link found in the 'statement' section above.

Medium:

Digital media with collected images and recordings.
Walkthrough 03. Sidewalk Radio

Walkthrough 03. Sidewalk Radio

Walkthrough 04. Sidewalk Broadcast

Walkthrough 04. Sidewalk Broadcast

The Sidewalk Radio, إذاعة الرصيف, features recordings collected from the streets of Beirut. It is a makeshift radio station referring to, first and foremost, radio shows historically playing a big role in gathering people around sidewalks to listen to specific broadcasts, and second, to the abundance of background noise coming from small supermarkets, cabs or barber shops, listening to daily radio shows. Most episodes are in Arabic, with snippets of old advertisements from Old Beirut Lebanon facebook page.

The Sidewalk Broadcast, شاشة الرصيف , is a series of investigative videos showing 3D maps, collages and timelines. The episodes intend to highlight the process behind discovering abandoned houses and objects, while relating it to Beirut’s neighborhoods. The first episode, titled ‘Finding Fafi’, investigates the trail that led me to Fafi’s shop – a jewelry shop from the 70s in Geitaoui, Beirut.

To listen to the radio show and watch 'Finding Fafi', visit the website using the link found in the 'statement' section above.

Medium:

Digital media with collected recordings and footage.
Walkthrough 05. Network Neighborhood

Walkthrough 05. Network Neighborhood

The “Network Neighborhood” feature on the website is installed to allow people to share objects that they hold on to, as to add any known information on existing objects or stories, and/or to share information on any specific archives in Lebanon. The feature is an important tool that allows users to interact personally with the website by adding the information and/or objects.

To share objects, visit the website using the link found in the 'statement' section above.

Medium:

Digital Media.
Manual 01. Main Structure

Manual 01. Main Structure

Manual 02. Large Trunk Add-On

Manual 02. Large Trunk Add-On

Cart/Arabayeh is a mobile structure that gives people the means to display collected objects in the public realm. By doing so, it aspires to create a space for display and discussion about social and cultural heritage.

Cart/Arabayeh is conceived as a place to explore growing and changing collections. As such, its design encourages user feedback and personal alterations in order to continuously explore different ways of sharing eclectic archives. Wholly made out of cardboard, the structure and its add-ons can easily be built by following the how-to guide and using tools widely found in most households.

To download the manuals, visit the website using the link found in the 'statement' section above.

Cart/Arabayeh is in collaboration with Ramzi Alieh, artist and architect based between Boston and Beirut.

Medium:

Cardboard Structure.

Issue 03. Economies

Issue 03. Economies

Issue 03. Economies

FIENDS is a semi-regular journal of thoughts and artistic investigations that started with members of the Public Sphere pathway on the RCA Contemporary Art Practice programme. It has expanded to include artists across all CAP pathways. At this moment, that is how it exists; as a non-hierarchical, non-authored mix of loose theory and art practice. FIENDS is usually presented as a physical, riso-printed theory object, folded and printed in 2 colours; however now also exists digitally at: http://fiends.gq/

The journal operates within a relatively tight, common public, yet simultaneously has the scope to go beyond. It is a fleeting object of intense, cooperative musings. The monthly issues explore divergent themes; from senses of futures and fictions, to the complexities of economies, to our collective understanding of nationhood and democracy. In this way, FIENDS becomes a material space of collective thoughts and common concern within CAP, and subsequently catalyses discussions in the pressing matters of publics, politics, identity and engagement that the group naturally share.

FIENDS is in collaboration with Jamie Steedman, Paola Estrella and Toby Tobias Kidd.

Medium:

Publication
26 July 2020
17:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice: Talk Chapter 2 – Fictioning as a Form of Resistance

With Sonia Bernaciak and Lawrence Lek
Read More
22 July 2020
13:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Chapter 1 – Empathy and Care as a Form of Resistance

with Jennifer Martin and Beverley Bennett – REPLAY
30 July 2020
17:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Chapter 3 – Archiving as a Form of Resistance

with Bisan Abu Eisheh and Michael Rakowitz
27 July 2020
17:00 (GMT + 0)
Zoom

Past/Future as a form of Resistance

Organised by Peter Spanjer with Sonya Dyer, Tanoa Sasraku & Alexandria Smith, Students Questions
27 July 2020
13:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Chapter 2 – Fictioning as a Form of Resistance

with Sonia Bernaciak and Lawrence Lek
21 July 2020
17:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Chapter 1 – Empathy and Care as a Form of Resistance

with Jennifer Martin and Beverley Bennett
31 July 2020
13:00 (GMT + 0)

Contemporary Art Practice Talk: Archiving as a Form of Resistance

with Bisan Abu Eisheh and Michael Rakowitz

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