Sand in the Eyes

Libanon, Germany, 2018
Author: Rabih Mroué
Directed by Rabih Mroué

about the production

In his work, Lebanese-German director, actor, performer and the most distinctive representative of the lecture-performance genre Rabih Mroué confronts the audience with the representation of war and death through deceptive manipulation of the media. The metaphor of sand in the eyes articulates a temporary blindness and inability clearly to see the truth about the form killing actually takes and the way it is portrayed. Rabih Mroué has long devoted himself to the theme of depictions of violence, the mechanisms of martyrdom and political propaganda. Mroué’s conceptual work is characterised by a mixture of fiction and documentary and the connection of actual historical events with made-up stories, which complicates the issue of truth and warns of the dangers of post-factual relativism.


In Sand in the Eyes, Mroué draws upon documentary films and post-produced propagandistic fictitious film footage to demonstrate the various forms of killing, violence and their portrayal. The audience is faced with the momentous and pressing question of how death is represented in image. The author himself, in an interview for London Daily Sabah, said that war is made on the ground, but that another war goes on through images. ‘And in this war, somehow, both sides look equal.’

At first, the director discovers a USB flash drive with a propaganda video produced by ISIS in his mailbox, afterwards we observe scenes from a historical war movie, only in the end to be confronted directly with two photographs placed side by side – an image of ISIS and a picture of drone strikes. Distorted facts, deliberate cuts, the misuse of image lead to manipulation, untruth and consequently blindness. Rabih Mroué makes use of publicly accessible material and posits two forms of murder side by side. On the one hand, there are murderers from ISIS who slaughter their victims and stare defiantly into the camera – on the other, drones programmed as killing machines. How is it possible that a liberal-democratic, humanistic society is able and willing to accept either of these two forms at all? Is killing in any form whatsoever not murder and loss of life? Why do we distinguish between fictitious images of killing in a thriller movie and images of real murder? The gravity of the topic Rabih Mroué broaches in this lecture is alarming. Even more so if we ourselves realise its urgency. The author only presents images, photographs, documentaries… it is up to us to approach the substance of the issue, then an answer to the questions posed and then objectively discovered truth.

Dáša Čiripová


“As an audience member, one spends a great deal of time thinking about which of these stories is true and which untrue. But that is entirely beside the point. Because Mroué wants to show that every memory, every image is made – through circumstances, through ideology, through experience. Mroué is a deconstructionist among theatre directors.”

(Alexander Jürgs: In der Bilderfalle, Nachkritik, Wiesbaden, 1 November 2017)


„The line between reality and fiction in Sand in the Eyes is quite vague, which is an intentional choice. Today, our sense of reality is post produced and this sense of reality reproduces itself through images, screens, and social media accounts. The artist uses this post produced narrative to tell his stories. Mroué’s performance does not focus on the clichés of terrorist propaganda videos. He chooses a different way to talk about them and focuses on the war of images. He compares images of violence and how we perceive them.”

(Cihad Caner, Haunted by Images of Propaganda, Drone Videos, Daily Sabah, 1 December 2017)



directed by Rabih Mroué
collaboration research: Andrea Geißler
subtitles: Yvonne Griesel
assistant: Petra Serhal


Rabih Mroué (1967) is a theatre director, actor, visual artist and playwright. He was born in Beirut and currently lives in Berlin. Although primarily a theatre maker, he also creates videos, installations, photographs and is a contributor for The Drama Review / TDR (New York). He was among the founding members of the Beirut Art Center (BAC); in 2012 – 2015, he was fellow at the International Research Centre ‘Interweaving Performance Cultures’ at the FU Berlin. He is active as a director at the Münchner Kammerspiele.

His work interrogates the political situation in Lebanon and often combines everyday real material with fiction. Many of his works have been presented at theatres, festivals and galleries all around the world – at the dOCUMENTA (13) and Spielart festival in Germany, at Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo in Madrid, at MoMa in New York, at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, at SALT Gallery in Istanbul and elsewhere. Mroué is presenting his work at the Divadelná Nitra Festival as well as in Slovakia for the first time.



Materials available

Video of the production: yes
Scriors of the production: SK, EN

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