Press Release | Amsterdam, 30 June 2022
Foam presents Becoming a Ghost, the first museum solo show by Syrian born artist Giath Taha (1982). Becoming a Ghost is a video installation that captures the artist's emotional reunion with his brother in the online video game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), while they haven't been able to see each other in real life for ten years.
Becoming a Ghost
When a peaceful uprising against the president of Syria turned into a full-scale civil war in 2011, artist Giath Taha decided his armour of choice would not be a weapon, but a camera. Eventually he was forced to flee the country. Perhaps that is why it feels peculiar that PUBG is massively popular in Syria, given its eerie similarity to the actual state of ongoing war in the country.
In the game, hundred avatars are simultaneously unleashed on a virtual island and everyone competes to be the last person or team standing. Eventually, the artist found out that his own brother is an avid player of the game, and even the commander of a virtual battalion. Suddenly the brothers had their own game to play: to spend as much time together as they possibly could without getting killed. The game became a gateway to revisit the past, in which both the sounds and visions of war triggered memories of what Taha had left behind. While the threat of sudden death constantly looms large, PUBG also offers the brothers a safe zone to discuss topics that on regular communication platforms would otherwise be censored.
Maybe my eyes turned blue
While making virtual walks on the island of PUBG, Taha documented scenes by taking screenshots that have an uncanny resemblance with the photographs he had made in Syria. During their very first encounter in PUBG, the artist jokingly remarks that his brother looks different, to which his brother responds: ‘Maybe my eyes turned blue.’ His brother’s remark is actually a Syrian saying for being ill; within the context of PUBG the remark could also be interpreted as having a somewhat blurred view between virtual and physical reality. Subsequently, Giath Taha developed his in-game photographs as cyanotypes, one of the oldest photographic printing processes in the history of photography. The distinctive feature of the print is its shade of cyan blue. In the installation Maybe my eyes turned blue, Taha connects each cyanotype screenshot to the place on the map of the island where he took the photograph. It marks the virtual as an actual location, where real encounters take place, yet everything is imaginary.
About the artist
Giath Taha (b. 1982, Syria) studied Photography and Applied Arts at the Walled Izzat Institute in Damascus and Literature at the University of Damascus, Syria. He subsequently graduated from the MA Artistic Research at the Royal Academy of Arts (KABK) in The Hague in 2021. He received both the MA Artistic Research Department Award 2021 as well as the Royal Academy Master Award 2021 for his graduation work Becoming a Ghost (2021). Taha participated in several group shows. His exhibition in Foam 3h is his first museum solo show. Giath Taha lives and works in Amsterdam.
The exhibition is made possible by the Van Bijlevelt Foundation, the Leeuwensteinstichting and the Mondriaan Fund.
Foam is supported by the VriendenLoterij, Foam Members, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, the VandenEnde Foundation and the Gemeente Amsterdam.
In 2022 Foam receives additional support from the Mondriaan Fund and receives a contribution through the Mondriaan Fund from the Ministerie van OCW.
Foam 3h: Giath Taha – Becoming a Ghost can be seen from 15 July – 30 October 2022 at Foam. Open daily 10am - 6pm, Thurs/Fri 10am - 9pm.
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