Fairy lights and garlands of flowers, plastic mannequins, Barbie dolls, figurines of newly-weds for a wedding cake, more plastic flowers, tanks and Kalashnikovs, tulle, taffeta, lace, pink, pink and more pink… The paradise of Zena el Khalil is a confined one in which the superabundance of decors mixing the subtle and the loud can give the visitor a feeling of oppression.
This composition is a pastiche, between chimera and nightmare, connecting the dreams of a young woman, successively the Princess from A Thousand and One Nights, a pop or hip-hop queen, a married, veiled woman or a stripped playmate. Zena el Khalil draws us into a paradoxical intimacy which, beyond the individual consciousness, refers back to the collective memory of a city at war.
The installation was created after the events of July 2006 in Beirut. It thus testifies the experience of the artist during the occupation. This is an inner or mental landscape with a single opening to the world; the old fashioned vision of a beach of coconuts, a pink sea of taffeta bordering the suitably decorated steles on which figures of bandaged children or decapitated husbands naively rest. It raises the question of the representation of the woman and what is expected of her in a society with a fragile future. The artist is toying with stereotypes in order to recreate a rosy universe, whose kitsch horror could perhaps help to forget the true horror of the war.
Translated by Valérie Vivancos