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Silke Schmickl, co-founder and director of Lowave, a Paris-based publishing house for experimental cinema and platform for curatorial research in the field of moving images, drew some deserved attention to the burgeoning regional video art scene at the fifth edition of the Beirut Art Fair over the weekend, with a selection of 16 short works from the MENASA region.The variety in Schmickl's selection provided a window into the breadth and sophistication of video art from the region.In "Sophistication," Indian artist Sarnath Banerjee's ironic collage animation combining drawings and photos, the artist uses images of turbaned, mustachioed men and a hilarious, satirical voice-over about the fall of Islamic al-Andalus to frame a serious commentary on political and religious fanaticism.In Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadiri's "Oh Torment (Wa Waila)," meanwhile, the melancholic strains of a traditional Kuwaiti folk song are accompanied by footage of the artist dressed as a bearded, turbaned man. While it's impossible to generalize, Schmickl said she has observed certain commonalities in the work of artists from particular geographic territories.In the 12 years since Schmickl founded Lowave, she says video art from the region has been continually evolving and expanding.
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