THE GRAND SOFAR HOTEL
AN ART EXHIBITION BY
Curated by Noor Haydar
E X H I B I T I O N E X T E N D E D !!
Runs until: 21st of October, 2018
Open Tuesday - Friday: from 11am - 7pm
Open Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st October: 11am - 9pm
The Grand Hotel Casino Ain Sofar built in 1892 by the Sursock family was for decades one of the most famous hotels in the Middle East. One that encapsulated the glamorous frivolous accounts of the 1920’s and the swinging 1960’s, luring Kings and Emirs, artists, socialites and diplomats from across the world into its chambers not merely for rest and slumber but for song, dance and poker.
Breezing through the Grand Hotel’s seventy five roomed corridors you can almost hear the secret deals being made between generals and ministers as celebrity love affairs nestled in the corners of the Monkey Bar.
The hotel was an unfortunate victim of the civil war, scarred by looting and destruction. However, under the care of one of its owners, Roderick Sursock Cochrane (a direct descendent of Alfred Moussa Sursock) the grand architectural wonder is being carefully restored as an art and reception venue and is now opening its doors to the public once more.
In the year 2013, the Artist and Activist of British nationality Tom Young known for his artistic and architectural interventions such as The Rose House and Villa Paradiso projects was invited to take up residency at the hotel. Four years later, the collaborative project came to fruition with the exhibition set to open to the public on the 16th of September, 2018.
Young’s art practice encompasses the reexamination of memories and revival of abandoned spaces through art and restoration. He is primarily engaging with the hotel and the remnants left by former guests and residents as well as the adjacent disused train station. Young is responding to the history of the Grand Sofar Hotel that embodies a time capsule of imaginary narratives like the legendary Oum Kulthoum enjoying an Eau De Fleurs with Farid el Atrash and Asmahan on a summer afternoon.
Young settled in Lebanon ten years ago and has since adopted several derelict 19th Century palaces and mansions, some of which have flourished into cultural venues and others that remain under the uncompromising grasp of developers.
The Grand Sofar Hotel exhibition will comprise forty artworks on canvas spread across the ground floor in a curatorial attempt to transport visitors to suspended moments in history. In collaboration with Independent Art Curator Noor Haydar and Production Designer Tarek Mourad, the painting exhibition will also revolve around site specific object based installations, theatre, dance and music performance, art educational workshops with children and students from local schools and universities such as ALBA, LAU, Sofar and Aley Public Schools, SOS Children's Villages, Home of Hope, Dar Al Aytam, UNHCR -to name a few.
Cochrane and Young intend for the exhibition to help reinvent the site and attract both local and international attention as a cultural and social event venue. In turn, it is hoped that this will help regenerate the local area and Lebanon as a whole.