Galerie Sfeir-Semler

Rayyane Tabet, The Shortest Distance Between Two Points (Beirut)

Rayyane Tabet, The Shortest Distance Between Two Points (Beirut)

chalk line (detail) by rayyane tabet

Rayyane Tabet

Chalk Line (detail), 2013

chalk line by rayyane tabet

Rayyane Tabet

Chalk Line, 2013

steel rings by rayyane tabet

Rayyane Tabet

Steel Rings, 2012

Sunday, April 7, 2013Saturday, July 20, 2013


Hamburg, Germany

Tabet began studying architecture at the American University of Beirut before transferring to The Cooper Union in 2004, where he received his B.Arch. in 2008. He received his MFA from the University of California, San Diego in 2011 before returning to live and work in Beirut in 2012. He is the recipient of the Emerging Artist Award of the Sharjah Biennial (2011), the Jury Prize of the Future Generation Art Prize (2012) and the Abraaj Group Art Prize (2013). His work was featured in the Sharjah Biennial X in 2011, The Ungovernables: The New Museum Triennial in 2012, and will be part of a collateral event at the Venice Biennial in 2013.

Rayyane Tabet will be showing in our gallery a project he has been working on since 2007, researching The Trans-Arabian Pipe Line and the company that ran it. The TAPLine Company was established in 1946 as a joint venture between Caltex, Esso, and Mobil. TAPLine was formed to build and operate a 1213 kilometer long, 78 centimeter wide steel tube to transport oil through land from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, crossing the border of five political entities in a region that is very conscious of its demarcated lines. In 1983, the line could no longer sustain the pressure from layered and adjacent political interests and the company was dissolved. Today, it sits hidden six feet underground, the objects used to render the company released into a raw form.

In the initial endeavor, the company described three intersecting lines – an arc of history, geography, and geometry. These lines provide the starting point of his exploration, investigating the interaction of these lines through the material that were manifested in this process.

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points uses material from TAPLine as devices to propose an alternative way of traveling the region and understand its development. The infrastructure rendered abstract through disuse and abandonment, offer a link to the present through the past. The company's imprint is the record of a rise and a fall, and the arc that binds them. It's shadow runs parallel to the shifts in the land. Stationary, rulers, tags, logos, slides, lines and the pipe itself become specters through which to address the political, geographic and social transformations in the region since the end of World War II.