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History

 

Before Zico House was founded:

Built in 1935, located in the heart of Beirut in Spears Street, in the Sanayeh district, this charming traditional house was the family home of Moustapha Yamouth (alias Zico). Lover of the arts and culture, he started using available spaces in the building for performance rehearsals. Soon, he realized the necessity for artists to have a space where they can create and express themselves and decided to promote and help emerging artists with interesting ideas and projects, especially those who didn’t have the means to produce their own work.

After the civil war, during the early 1990’s, Zico decided to transform this spacious building from a family house into an alternative space that housed contemporary art.During this period was a time when a number of individual initiatives emerged and where Lebanon became a prime cultural location for the Arab region. Encouraged by Zico, a number of artists decided to organize a large collective exhibition in the building, making visible the work of many artists for the first time. Among others, these artists included Marwan Richmawi, Flavia Codsi, Gilbert Hage and Elie Khalife, who later became established in the field of contemporary art and film.

Following this event, Zico set up a production house with friends and colleagues, “Beirut Media Production,” with their offices based in Zico House. BMP produced the first theatre performance written by Boutros Rouhana, dedicated to Zico house. This poetic and feverish work, « Al Haris », which was closer to a form of human installation than theatre, provided Zico House with its main mission: to defend experimental Lebanese art.

How was Zico House given its name?

During one of his first exhibitions « Chorba », Rafic Majzoub wrote on the outside wall of the building: “Zico House” as a marker or address so that people would understand where the exhibition was taking place. This was the first time that the name was evoked.

Since the establishment of Zico House:

In 1999, Beirut was selected to be the Cultural Capital of the Arab World; this was when Zico House, the civil society organization for culture and development,was officially born. Zico’s home was increasingly associated with the arts and soon, by word of mouth, it became the place where cultural events took place. The whole building became a house for ecological, social, youth and cultural organizations.

Since 1999, around 250 activities have been hosted in Zico House such as: exhibitions, poetry readings, installations, story telling, debates, video screenings, dance performances, theatre plays, concerts, ciné-club, workshops, etc...

The impact of Zico House as a center for artistic creativity and experimentation is not only due to the quality of the works and innovative ventures, but to its unique cultural atmosphere and a constant inflow of people and ideas. The cultural endeavour initiated by Zico was to support both artistic creations and development work by civil society organizations, all conjoined in the same place: experimental artwork, students’ projects, small theater rehearsals, painting exhibitions, site-specific installations, as well as providing a space for social development projects, social associations and civic institutions. Zico House’s aim has always been to become a notable cultural center and to date, no other such multi-faceted center exists in Lebanon. In 2009, Zico House will celebrate its 10th anniversary.

 

174 Spears Street, Sanayeh // Beirut - Lebanon , Tel: +961 1 746 769 // Fax: +961 1 750 442

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