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The Broken Pitcher
Natascha Sadr Haghighian
Núria Güell + Levi Orta
The fine print in a contract or agreement is designed to be dismissed until it is too late. In a slick corporate interior setting and with a warm smile, a finger points to the section you should have read and whose consequences you are currently facing. The fine print, the interior setting, the warm smile, and the finger are facades of customer care always acting in the interest of institutional power.
At the center of the exhibition hall, and anchoring the exhibition, is a strange replica of a meeting room in a bank, the site par excellence where such scenes take place. It is part of the project titled The Broken Pitcher, by Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Marina Christodoulidou and Peter Eramian, that takes a close look at the foreclosure of a family home in Cyprus. The set, collaboratively conceived with artists and artisans based in Cyprus, is embedded with newly produced artworks by each artist. The Beirut iteration shows a version of the set produced locally. Across the room in the auditorium, the second part of The Broken Pitcher, a 70 min film, shows a reenactment of the crucial negotiation at the bank based on interviews with the affected family and their recollection of that meeting. Various individuals respond to a question asked by one of the actors through the fourth wall: ''In your opinion, what should the bank employees do?'' The Broken Pitcher reflects with crystal clarity how austerity measures, bailout agreements, debt and colonial histories construct and codify everyday precarity, insidious violence and radical unsettling.
The exhibition Fine Print builds on the premise and the collective impulse of The Broken Pitcher with ten additional artistic contributions, including seven new commissions, that depart from its themes and motifs and more specifically address the financial crisis in Lebanon, its realities, consequences and vernaculars. Since 2019, when the fine print of our financial conditions couldn’t but finally be scrutinized, metal sheets have replaced the glass doors of Lebanese financial institutions. Facades have fallen, thresholds wrecked and defaced, surveillance cameras and ATMs smashed. The works in Fine Print revisit the past, explore personal affiliations, and expose the changing materiality cladding and clouding financial institutions and cash liquidity. Probing the construction of value based on relationships of exchange, the exhibition splinters the larger print of “a country in collapse” to comprehend who profits from such a diagnostic and who pays the price for it.