Articles tagged with: Lebanon
Post Your Map :: We will regularly present a featured artist, writer or performer who is exploring questions of identity and personal narrative through their medium of expression.
The map is your representation. No rigid lines, no defined routes. You direct it on your own account.
Entering the home studio that Yassin Kassem and Mohammed Turek of the rap duo Invincible Voice (I-Voice) have built in the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Bourj el Barajneh gives do-it-yourself (DIY) a whole new meaning. A small bedroom - which on this day was subject to enduring electricity outages - is converted into a base for mixing, producing, songwriting and entertaining the journalists that have started to take an increasing interest in these boys’ story. We enter the dark studio, leaving the door open to let the outside daylight in. Grey sponge sounds-proofs the walls of the ground-floor converted bedroom, and Tupac paraphernalia decorates them. This is one of the first “production houses” inside the camps of Lebanon, and is playing a big role in spreading the rap bug in refugee camps across the country.
“Lebanon is beautiful, it is my home… but here, I cannot be free. My view from here is blocked and the Lebanese are asleep to all the beautiful things they have to see.”
My appreciation of Lebanon begins with recognizing its style, its ability to meld renegade culture and art, the behind the scenes political discussions, the sporadic displays of cosmopolitanism amidst mental and physical rubble, and even the excesses of the luxurious jet set that lend to its enduring cool. But there are things about Lebanon that are tainted and easily eclipse the joie de vivre the Lebanese purport to specialize in. The things about this country that frustrate are not simply disruptions to my personal comforts – daily electricity outages, ubiquitously slow Internet, dismal public transport, heavy noise pollution and sticky smog. The things that create more discomfort about Lebanon’s mentality as a society is the blatant segregtion of outsiders.
Graffiti in bathroom stalls is usually an exhibit of messy jargon and crude comments and not the most obvious site for serious discussion and advice seeking. In Lebanon, however, stalls in female bathrooms are emerging as the centre for conversation on issues that are too personal for the home, too intimate for friends and too reserved for magazine advice columns. Despite the centrality of the family in Lebanese culture and the importance of peers and a large social network, bathroom stalls seems to be a prominent space for young women to anonymously open up about sexuality, body image and tradition.
Memory is a volatile object that can re-emerge no matter how much superficial tendencies wish to filter. Every now and then, Beirut’s cultural scene sees a few projects pushing memory to the centre through installations, movie screenings and exhibitions. Luckily, the emergence of public art spaces and curators looking to search for memory is helping this work build and progress. The Beirut Art Centre and The Hangar - UMAM are two sites that are making the discourse viable.
Welcome to Beirut, Lebanon where you can be everything you want to be - among the glitterati in sky high clubs with polished heels, discussing politics among the expatriot intelligentsia in bohemian backdoors, or setting up an evening Nargileh (water pipe) outpost in your car on the Corniche. Even as an observer of Beirut’s many worlds - the contradictions, the contrasts, the tragedies - I feel the unmistakable heartbeat, the pulsing arteries filled with suffocating cigarette fumes and a persistent, intense desperation to stay alive.