Dalia Khalife

Work exhibited at School of Waters
Ridotto del Teatro Titano

True Sweat or Ultra Fire Finish Line (2019 to 2021)
Two channel video installation, color, sound, 11’55’’

The video work by artist and scenographer Dalia Khalife, True Sweat or Ultra Fire Finish Line, unfolds in the back room at Hippodrome du parc du Beyrouth as the winning horse is forced to give a urine sample for drug testing. An absurd scene unfolds as sound stimuli, from whistling to trickling water, attempt to encourage a horse that refuses for hours to respond. Beyond highlighting the power imbalance intrinsic in nature/culture dualism, this film invites the viewer to consider and critically revise the various forms of extraction humans have cultivated for their pleasure and gain at the expense of non-human species. Founded in 1893, the hippodrome, like other horse-racing tracks, is a space where wealth and status take centre stage at the expense of others. Seating favours the elite and excludes other classes, while hostlers’ working conditions are poor and underpaid. The architecture of the hippodrome has shaped the rituals unfolding within its walls, crystallising not only the inequality and violence between species but also the social and economic inequalities that plague Lebanon. 

About the artist

Dalia Khalife (1992, Lebanon) is an artist and scenographer currently based in Beirut. She holds an MA in Scenography from Utrecht University of the Arts and a BA in Visual Arts and Interior Design from the Lebanese American University.
She works intuitively, in an interdisciplinary manner, across audiovisual installation, site-specific interventions, video, objects, painting and performative gestures to produce situations where viewers occupying the same space produce its meaning. Dalia’s practice examines psychophysiological happenings within power structures, social events, and rituals, that manifest as primitive moments of ambiguity and shared vulnerability. Throughout the work, the unpredictability that derives from collaborations with artists and individuals are an essential part of the work. Her current artistic research engages with human-animal relationships through a lens of gender relations and expression.

She was a recipient of the HWP Fellowship of Ashkal Alwan in Beirut (2019), a resident at SeMA NANJI Residency, Seoul Museum of Art in Seoul (2018) and a resident at Penthouse Art Residency in Brussels (2018). Recent group exhibitions include the HWP Open Studios, Beirut (2019), Shifting Surfaces, SeMA NANJI Residency, Seoul (2018), participation in Manifesta 12 Biennial for Across The Border, Palermo (2018).

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Fig. 1.
Dalia Khalife, film still, True Sweat or Ultra Fire Finish Line, 2019,
Video, 12:29 min, colour, stereo,
Courtesy of the artist

Fig. 2 - 3.
Dalia Khalife, i nstallation view,  True Sweat or Ultra Fire Finish Line, 2019, Variable dimensions, HWP Open Studios, Beirut,
Courtesy of the artist