The Face of No One
By Abbas Beydoun
Bacon, combining several portraits, extracted a face that carries several faces in its shadows. What, then, has Chaza Charafeddine done to her face? Despite her modifications, twists, and distortions, her face still remains her own. Chaza Charafeddine does not want to create a generic face that does not belong to anyone in particular; she does not immediately want the face of “no one.” She wants her own face, but by allowing it to slowly reveal its history, unfolding into many faces that lie within it, and transforming her face into her own experiment, she ultimately transforms her self-portrait into the face of no one. This “no one,” however, is the product of a laborious and drawn out process in which the face is rid of any personal characteristic and is finally transformed into the interior of a horrified subject. In other words, what appears on the face, along with what contorts it, curls it, and carves into the face, is precisely its history; it does not pause at one direction or image, but upturns the images and directions and kneads them into one another. The result is this floating face, which is in the end the “no one” portrayed after each attempt to delve into the subject, to shatter the strata of its consciousness, to penetrate its depths, and to reveal its secrets. The self is what surfaces on the face, is present in it, and consumes it. The self, which in its depths is indescribable and unnamed, is molten and distorted, without shape or form. There is more to the contortions and carvings that finally appear on the face; rather these are a part of a continual process in which the human quality is perpetually usurped through persistent transforming, melting, and kneading.
The face is the dynamic memory, which is in a constant state of flux; it continues from where Bacon’s archetype left off, following its changes and transformations from moment to moment. A face appears as nothing to the eye but a moment, and if you glance a moment later you will find something different, as the disparate quality of this face is limitless.
The personal face, transformed into its utmost self before it becomes in its last stages “no one,” reaches a complete disfigurement at the pinnacle of its formation. The face composed in a personal image is nothing but that of the other, continually transforming in its state of flux; it is nothing but an object, or a performance – refuse and transformation (metamorphosis). Thus, having been eroded and warped, the self becomes a banished other or connected others, over whom this “no one” looms continuously and at every moment.
We can boldly say that Chaza Charafeddine succeeds in transforming both her face and body into the subject of art in her exhibit; transposing it onto the faces of Bacon, faces morphed into one another, from which she extracts her face and body, which become the crux of an altogether different work of art. As reality imitates art, the body iterates artwork. We stand before either a critical moment or a true, fertile, avant-garde event in our artistic history. Thus, without bargaining at the expense of art, Chaza bridges the gap between the body and its environs, between reality and art, and between the self and the other.
Translated from the Arabic by Amir Eustice