The Shortest Distance Between Two Points
The Shortest Distance Between Two Points
The Shortest Distance Between Two Points is a line. A line is a construction of distance - in space, in time, in vision. It gives definition to form and position through connection and separation.
The Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Company was established in 1946 as a joint venture between Caltex, Esso, and Mobil. TAPLine was formed to build and operate a 1213 kilometer long 78 centimeter wide steel tube to transport oil through land. With this endeavor the company described three intersecting lines - an arc of history, geography, and geometry.
The pipeline replied to the tradition of a curved route through straits surrounding the Arabian Peninsula with a line cut into the Fertile Crescent. TAPLine proposed a straight connection from Dhahran to Haifa. The Partition Plan for Palestine forced an angle that redirected the line to Zahrani. Lebanon received the endpoint on a direct trajectory that delivered Saudi oil to America.
Contingent conditions produce temporary solutions. TAPLine accommodated changes in the region for three decades. In 1983, the line could no longer sustain the pressure from layered and adjacent political interests. The company was dissolved. The infrastructure was left on the land. The elements used to render it were released into a raw state. The terminal, the offices, the pump stations, and the pipe are not relics, but deposits of material.
The vitality of the present and our ability to remain within it must respond to the continuous pull of the lines leading to and away from it. The company’s imprint is the record of a rise and a fall, and the arc that binds them. It’s shadow runs parallel to the shifts in the land. In disuse, the infrastructure is a measurement manifested in marks, objects, and stories. These lines construct the present, and offer vantages for perceiving the distances they define.
Tabet began studying architecture at the American University of Beirut before transferring to The Cooper Union in 2004, where he received his B.Arch. in 2008. He received his MFA from the University of California, San Diego in 2011 before returning to live and work in Beirut in 2012. He is the recipient of the Emerging Artist Award of the Sharjah Biennial (2011), the Jury Prize of the Future Generation Art Prize (2012) and the Abraaj Group Art Prize (2013). His work was featured in the Sharjah Biennial X in 2011, The Ungovernables: The New Museum Triennial in 2012, and will be part of a collateral event at the Venice Biennial in 2013.
In this exhibition Rayyane Tabet shows a project he has been working on since 2007, researching The Trans-Arabian Pipe Line and the company that ran it. The TAPLine Company was established in 1946 as a joint venture between Caltex, Esso, and Mobil. TAPLine was formed to build and operate a 1213 kilometer long, 78 centimeter wide steel tube to transport oil through land from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, crossing the border of five political entities in a region that is very conscious of its demarcated lines. In 1983, the line could no longer sustain the pressure from layered and adjacent political interests and the company was dissolved. Today, it sits hidden six feet underground, the objects used to render the company released into a raw form.
In the initial endeavor, the company described three intersecting lines – an arc of history, geography, and geometry. These lines provide the starting point of his exploration, investigating the interaction of these lines through the material that were manifested in this process.
The Shortest Distance Between Two Points uses material from TAPLine as devices to propose an alternative way of traveling the region and understand its development. The infrastructure rendered abstract through disuse and abandonment, offer a link to the present through the past. The company's imprint is the record of a rise and a fall, and the arc that binds them. It's shadow runs parallel to the shifts in the land. Stationary, rulers, tags, logos, slides, lines and the pipe itself become specters through which to address the political, geographic and social transformations in the region since the end of World War II.