PuSh Blog

The personal side of Rabih Mroué – A Curatorial Statement by Norman Armour

February 02, 2016

Rabih Mroue photo
Courtesy of the artist

There are a handful of artists and groups that PuSh has presented on multiple occasions. The list is preciously short: Marianno Pensotti, Maiko Bae Yamamoto and James Long, Darren O’Donnell, Tim Crouch, and Rabih Mroué.

Theatre-maker, installation artist, videographer, photographer, author, essayist. Lebanese, living and working between Beirut and Berlin. We last presented Rabih when he performed here in Vancouver at SFU Woodward’s his lecture/performance Pixelated Revolution (2014), accompanied by an exhibition of his video work at the grunt gallery. Way back in 2012, we presented Looking for a Missing Employee (and a early drafted version of Pixelated Revolution at the Contemporary Art Gallery).


Photo of Norman Armour and Rabih Mroue, 2012, grunt gallery

There is a picture and of me and Rabih at the grunt gallery in January of 2012. Around 6pm. I believe the date was January 21, 2012. At least I think it is. It’s a Saturday; that I know for sure. The middle weekend of the 2012 PuSh Festival. I know this for sure, given that within a few hours I would suffer a massive heart attack down Club PuSh, at that time at Performance Works on Granville Island.

Riding on a Cloud while carrying forward many of Rabih’s thematic and aesthetic concerns is perhaps warmer, less clinical. Much less a dissection of truth, the nature of historical fact, the role of social media, the tensions between reality and fiction making, Riding on a Cloud unfolds like a family album. The years and events clearly marked. With only brief and fleeting notes, we are asked to navigate the intersecting planes of biography, of politics, art, the medium of video, of poetry, and of personal, medical and state records.

Riding on a Cloud is a highly personal work. It is a beautifully affecting work about a brother who suffered, survived and overcame an injurious headshot from a sniper’s rifle. An indiscriminate bullet, with intentions to kill. Riding on a Cloud is an homage to Rabih’s brother Yasser, and to their brotherly love. Yasser Mroué. Dearly beloved. Dearly cared for. Dearly thought of and dearly thought on.

At its heart, Riding on a Cloud is a poetical trail of ideas. It’s a genre made of ephemera — acting poetic debris. Its dramaturgy is a dense, yet spacious weave of ideas, of fact, and conjecture.

We are presenting Rabih again this year because we love his work. We love the way Rabih tackles reality, toying with it like a cat with a yarn of wool.


image of ball of yarn

We love the way Rabih mixes document with speculation. We love the way he writes — the very particular way his work “speaks.” And we are not the only ones. This North American tour of Riding on a Cloud winds and stitches its way across the Canada / US boarder in the shape of horseshoe: Toronto’s Theatre Centre, then on to Minneapolis’ Walker Arts Centre, then to Seattle’s On the Board, and finally to Vancouver. He and his brother have travelled great distances of time, of geography, of history, of civil wars, of the body, of the mind, and of spirit.

Help us welcome them to Vancouver. Help us applaud their work and their persistence of vision and mind. Please join Joyce and I as a witness to their work, as a witness to Rabih and Yasser having been here with us.

Learn of Rabih and Yasser Mroué’s story in Riding on a Cloud, February 3–6, 2016 at Performance Works. Book tickets on your PuSh Pass, Youth Passport or as single tickets online.