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ADA Rotterdam - Area for Debate and Art

Tuesday 02 June 2009. Part of Open Office for Words.

The Office looked at the notion of innocence together with the concept of landscape. Apart from the Sublime, various ways of reading and understanding landscape were discussed. The Office served French Chocolate Cake, Passion Cake and Apple Crumble Cake and a selection of tea’s and coffee was poured.

Marcel Borsten’s talk Innocent Landscapes looked at the relationship between landscape and photography in territorial conflict areas. By focusing mainly on two different notions of landscape: the territorial and the rational, he touched upon the history and philosophy of landscape as he looked at the photographic works of Paul Graham, Peter Goin, Avi Holtzman and Richard Misrach.

Marcel Borsten studied photograpic design (1997-2003) at the Hogeschool van de Kunsten Utrecht and at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland graduating Cum Laude in 2003. He received the Steenbergen Stipendium and was nominated for the Kunst Anjer of the Prins Bernhart Cultuurfonds (2003). He has exhibited in Holland and New York. He is a senior IT consultant and the owner of Impart, a company that created the video/audio recording solution aimed at Higher Education called Recording Box.

Lasse Lau‘s talk When Space Becomes Imaginary looked at what the naïve eye and the innocent can add to any unknown site. As part of his talk he will screen his latest film Pine Nuts, which examines the political and social relevance of the “invented” city park Horch al-Sanawbar in Beirut. The unusual history of this closed park becomes told through the recollections of US immigrants of the Lebanese Diaspora.

Lasse Lau
Pine Nuts, 2008
Duration: 20.00 min.
Produced in collaboration with Pejk Malinovski and The Agency of Public Resources1 , which is the imaginary common subject matter from which all of Lasse Lau’s recent interdisciplinary art projects originate.

Through the recollections of immigrants’ stories of the Lebanese Diaspora, Lau’s latest video Pine Nuts focuses on the history of a public park in Beirut, which nearly 20 years after the end of the civil strife, still hasn’t officially re-opened to the public.

Horsh Beirut also known as Horch al-Sanawbar, at around 70 acres, is the largest and one of the few existing city parks in Beirut. It used to be a large pine tree forest that protected the city from sandstorms coming in from the surrounding mountains. Pine trees together with the cider trees are the only significant trees in this dry Mediterranean region. The developing history of the planted forest can be dated back to the time of the Crusades, Emir Fakhreddean al-Ma’ani II, and the Ottomans. Horsh Beirut first became a defined park, characterized by its now triangular shape, with the urbanization of the 50’s and 60’s.

The park is located at the edge of the city centre and divides large parts of the city from its surrounding suburbs. There are three religious neighbourhoods bordering the park: Shia, Sunnis, and Christians. During the civil war the park became part of the Green Line that separated the Christians from Muslims. Horsh Beirut was rebuilt and re-landscaped in the mid 90’s including the planting of hundreds of new pine trees, sponsored by the Region of Paris. Nearly 20 years after the end of the civil strife the park has still not officially re-opened to the general public. The reasons for this closing are many and the means are few. Most likely the reconciliation between the three opposing parts hasn’t come to a level of satisfactory resolution. This is how Horsh Beirut became an invented park.

Lasse Lau (born 1974) is a queer and social activist, visual artist and filmmaker based in Brussels, New York and Copenhagen. He studied at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and Funen Academy of Fine Art. He is the co-founder of the Danish artist group “_CUDI – Center for Urban Culture, Dialogue and Information_”. Lau has exhibited in a wide range of museums and galleries including Hamburger Bahnhof and Wolfsburg Kunstverein in Germany, Aarhus Art Museum and Brandts Klaedefabrik in Denmark, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Croatia, The Turin Biennial of Contemporary Art in Italy, the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, Smack Mellon Gallery and PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York.

1The Agency of Public Resources is an agency that through the means of art and collectiveness accumulates on site knowledge, and through dialogue facilitates re-negotiations of space and democracy.

Utö, The Last Year of An Island; Bunker in Rock Marcel Borsten (2002)
Utö, The Last Year of An Island; Bunker in Rock Marcel Borsten (2002)