AboutIn his first solo exhibition in London, the Lebanese artist Pascal Hachem presents what is arguably his most ambitious sculptural installation to date.
Hachem's critically incisive observations of the systemic flaws inherent in current forms of political power inform his work, in practice executed through elegant, highly mechanized three dimensional works. He has a penchant for pulling out the knives, both literally and figuratively, and past works have directly addressed political and social violence. Precisely engineered, they restage and perform the active participation of the individual or group within a carefully calibrated set of circumstances. Human agency, the very action itself, the performance of a gesture the foot on the pedal, the flick of the wrist - which can set off a chain reaction of controlled violence is central to his practice. Bloodlessly, his works evoke unimaginable horror.
Once again, Hachem creates an uncomfortable tension in the white cube space. This new body of work is overtly polemical, yet it simultaneously challenges the role of polemic and political authority itself. Bringing the Boys Back Home is designed to provoke, to confront, and to question. While the cultural references are specific to the artist's native Lebanon and respond to the frustration of living with relentless political violence, this work acknowledges that seemingly endemic theatres of war cannot be divorced from the shared pandemic of global conflict. The deliberate, canny choice of symbols that are as universal as they are particular allows the message to resonate. Hachem fuses together a simple everyday object, the matchbox, with an easily recognizable and inflammatory image. A matchbox can be incendiary, but once emptied, the artist hints, it can be used to secrete and imprison weaker creatures, to hide and carry the precious booty of the cruel and curious child. Carefully selected, this particular matchbox bears the familiar insignia of modern armies, the three stars of military rank. Contained within is a partially visible, familiar and arguably equally universal gesture of the polemical orator, the raised index finger; the final point, the order, the command, the call to arms, an invitation to unstoppable, unending cycles of violence and self-annihilation.