The selected projects
Sad Boy Lonely, Ellaik’s fourth album, is a new work that continues to reflect on the emotional journey through the struggle for life in the labyrinth of the city. Based on his daily experiences of Beirut’s dusky fate in recent years, this new album proposes a journey into darkness in search for light. The rhythm of the album as a whole alternates electronic and symphonic tracks, and more restrained reflective ones based on his experimental practice with saxophone and piano, managing to create some breaks in the intensity of the whole. This amalgam of influences appeared to him as an evidence of the aim to capture the multifaceted anxieties deeply rooted in daily experience in Beirut, driving him to question notions of a safe place, loneliness, home and escape – and the possibility of a catharsis in such a chaotic environment.
Maatouk delves into an aesthetic investigation that addresses the sectarian perception that governs “public spaces” in the city. To better understand this type of perception, she will look into the “security world” in Beirut, which she says has changed since the end of the civil war from sectarian militia structures to everyday employment in private security, valet parking, personal security etc. The employees, whom she calls security organs, serve as surveillance personal for political parties to which they below in two ways. Tasked with waiting for "something" to happen, they embody a temporality of imminence that people living in Lebanon today experience in anticipation of economic and political liberation.
BARA DIGITAL is a digital imprint, a free multimedia journal that will focus on a new literary publication by international writers and artists each month. The works will be of medium length, and range from poetry chapbooks to novellas and creative non-fiction essays. To complement each work, they will produce an audio interview conversation with the author. These 45 minute conversations will be hosted by Dani Arbid, co-founder of Barakunan. These will in turn be published with each work and form the core of Bara Digital.
Tanios’ first feature film, The Sun has Seen Everything, centers on a single mother in her mid-thirties who, after the sudden death of her husband, finds herself bouncing between full-time work and raising her three children. Overwhelmed by her new life and trying to find balance, she discovers a debt her husband left her. Between letting go of her dark part, grieving for a husband she never loved and caring for three children alone, she embarks on a journey to become the woman she never thought she could be.
Beirut x Berlin - an exchange program between artists, technologists and curators from these two cities. RIWAQ and Your Mom’s Agency have joined forces to launch a new residency programme focusing on the intersection of music, AV technologies and social reflection. The aim is to foster existing connections between the two cultural hotspots, bring together new people interested in each other's cities and artistic or technological practices, make this connection accessible to the public both locally and globally online, and incorporate progressive approaches into every step of the project.
First Murder, Second Murder (A play based on William Shakespeare’s Richard III) – tentative title. A site-specific performance based on the theme of the ‘marginal’ or ‘nameless’ characters in Shakespeare’s texts who drive the plot but remain anonymous, such as the First Murderer and Second Murderer in the play Richard III. Most of Shakespeare’s texts are based on a single character, a hero, around whom all the action revolves. The fate of all the other characters depends on this one main character – which in large part resembles our political reality today. The disappearance of the minor characters in no way affects the narrative or the performance. But what happens if we removed the central characters from the text?
Nour Jan Presents is a multi-sensory platform promoting the intangible cultural heritage of the Armenian diaspora. Whether it be film screenings harkening back to the motherland and musical trios manifesting its folkloric sounds or storytelling and food that focuses on the diaspora experience, Nour Jan is not just meant to be an event to attend, but a community of which to be a part. Some of that community has recently banded together to produce a new podcast called This Diaspora Life, which uses oral histories and archival music to do ethnographic deep dives into different diaspora communities around the world, with the first season focusing solely on the Armenian diaspora communities of Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Athens, Paris, Addis Ababa, and Beirut.
Where in the distance? (Working Title): A visual diaspora essay that looks at the countries left behind in the ongoing wave of migration in Lebanon. It critically engages with property law and its entanglement with restrictive geographical boundaries and debilitating inheritance laws. The work questions whether it is still possible to take care of remote lands with the help of satellite technologies and draws attention to the inequality in land coverage between Western countries and the rest of the world. Moreover, it is an attempt to imagine surveillance as a tool for care and resistance when it is re-appropriated.
Two Suspended Women is a Lebanese black comedy where realism and absurdity meet in a language that combines sarcasm, existential concepts and the aesthetics of poetry. The play depicts a space where the conditions of reality are exhausted, in a lift that borrows human characteristics and tries to escape in time, in the guts of two women who are physically stuck in the bowels of the lift above the floor, and in psychological suspensions on a stage. Trapped in a confined space, two women who do not know each other, while waiting in vain, question the meaning and utility of existence and the stubbornness of fate towards their desire.
In his research, Youssef attempts to suggest a hidden state of secrecy that dominates society as a whole. His deconstruction of secrecy aims at our inability to uncover what we uncover anyway, but over longer stretches of time. By “secret” he imagines an evolving property around a particular subject, slowly accumulating defense strategies and various potential modes of uncovering, a web of interlocking nuances from which a secret state or states emerge. These secrets capture society in its key feature, they are oppressive and perhaps gritty, so can be broken down to its basic social elements, and they lead to the formation of morbid spaces. These places/spaces are represented in this project as the long stretch of habitat that runs parallel to the Lebanese sea coast. On the fringes of the country, pushed to the margins of society, fauna, flora and people live, forming a duality of sentient and non-sentient beings with the atmosphere surrounding them.
Elegy of a City is an experimental single-channel video portrait of the city of Beirut exploring an analogy between body and building. Romans, Ottomans, French, earthquakes, civil wars, pandemics and economic crises passed through the same alleys. The violent events of the past that took place in Beirut are infused into the surroundings. And it is here, in a city that knows nothing lasts, that recurring cycles of destruction are visible at every turn. Here, the spaces of the past – standing still in time – collide with the spaces of the present - everyday life. The past interweaves with every facet of the residents' daily lives and with their future.
This video work could be seen as a cinematographic search for the meaning of destruction. While the camera looks into the built environment to find out how a city lives with its past, the video actually talks about how we humans live with our traumatic memories, a chronicle of the mortality and survival of a city.
Beirut Synthesizer Center, an ongoing collaborative education project founded in June 2021 by Bana Haffar, Elyse Tabet, Ziad Moukarzel, and Hany Manja, is a community-based center for self-directed learning with a primary focus on the study of musical synthesis and sound. During the seven-month grant period, the center, in collaboration with Your Mom’s Agency, aims to continue to develop its core monthly programming, workshops, concerts and screenings while keeping open hours, workshops, and other events free for the community in order to continue to foster registered and future members.
Mal3ab is a collective experiment that aims to document the collapse of public and private systems, government institutions and the great decline in order to understand the social, political and economic changes in Lebanon. It is a monthly zine that will be published both in print and online, with each issue inviting 3-4 designers/artists/photographers/illustrators/writers to come together (physically or digitally) to talk, communicate and reflect on life in freefall.
The group will find their own way to work together and everyone will contribute, slowly becoming an artistic archive of the crisis.
As part of the YAZAN Professional Artist Training, 14 young theatre practitioners were selected to work on the play "The Righteous" by Albert Camus, in which a radical revolutionary cell plans to assassinate a corrupt leader. Intensive practical training in set design, sound design, acting, dramaturgy and stage techniques will lead to a full production directed by Caroline Hatem in April 2022. Opening: Sunflower Theatre, 31 March.
TERRANEA is a collaborative dance performance that spans geographical boundaries and artistic disciplines, bringing together dancers, musicians, writers, visual artists and set designers from Minnesota (USA) and the Mediterranean (Palestine, Lebanon and Sicily) to weave and embody a collective mythology about the spirit of the sea. Exploring the memory of water, oral histories and documented archives of Mediterranean coastlines, wind patterns and ancestral encounters, memory is thematised as a political act of resistance to erasure while honouring loss and life. Through the world of TERRANEA, one can enter another realm and imagine a collective, untethered Mediterranean home under the sea.
From Algiers to Beirut is a two-screen video installation consisting of several short videos recording an exchange of letters between two artists living in Beirut and Algeria – Sirine Fattouh and Leïla Saadna. In this dialogue, they explore the complex and tense relationship that connects them to their home countries. They illuminate how the experiences have affected some of the choices they have made in the past and continue to make today and, equally important, how these experiences have shaped their identities. The project puts into perspective the complexity of Algerian and Lebanese society, especially during the pandemic.
BICAR will host its first summer school in Lebanon this June, open to international and local students. It is intended as a pedagogical intervention at a catastrophic moment in Lebanon’s history. With economic collapse, severe shortages of fuel, electricity, and medicines, and more than 80% of Lebanon’s population living below the poverty line, the current capitalist crisis requires the development of appropriate tools to understand our historical present in ways that can also affect conditions of transformation. BICAR members believe that Lebanon is the future past of the failures of global neoliberalism, a place that can educate us about the dismal future to come if the social, political, and economic contradictions of the present are left to their own historical trajectory.
Joint project between artists and musicians Shakeeb Abu Hamdan, based in Beirut, Lebanon, and Sholto Dobie, based in Vilnius, Lithuania. The artists will work on a recording project and live performance in Vilnius, where they will experiment, build and adapt musical instruments, develop a collaborative performance setup and record new compositions.
In September 2012, a workshop took place in Beirut as part of Irtijal’s 21st International Festival for Experimental Music, bringing together the international festival Irtijal, bringing together six Lebanese musicians from different backgrounds under the direction of Hans Joachim Irmler, co-founder of the experimental rock ensemble Faust. Despite the musicians never working together before, the workshop resulted in a spontaneous outburst of creativity in an unexpected context, seamlessly fusing oriental backgrounds – from Arabic poetry to Buzuq-driven music – with experimental and herbaceous rock music. Since then, discussing about taking the project further by writing additional material, the group received a spontaneous invitation from Irmler to record an album in his studio in Scheer. The group will now travel to Faust Studio, meet with Irmler again, write and record material.
Khabar Keslan is a self-funded publication that produces a bi-annual print edition of art and criticism on the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. In addition to the print edition, Khabar Keslan also regularly produces web content and radio programmes, and has occasionally collaborated with artists to curate joint exhibitions. With this fund, Khabar Keslan will print and distribute their fifth issue, which explores complicated questions of power and the clash of ideals, how we adapt to these elements and how we challenge them; Contradiction examines the incompatible forces we encounter, adapt to and live with. This collection of texts is an exploration of how we deal with ideas and feelings of contradiction.
Alia Hamdan is interested in the figure of the dancer-performer, plunged in a political sectarian background. She intends to investigate how various dancers-performers in Lebanon experience, capture and filter, through their sensations, performance works and choreographic thoughts, the non-organic space-time in which they operate, a space-time where political violence disrupt the organic relation of time and space usually implied by dance. The outcome is a text, that attempts to esthetically politically frame the conditions of dancing and performing in Lebanon and that aims as such to contribute to the field of dance studies and to the efforts of decolonizing discourses about dance in the region.
In a wonky universe set within the fake walls of an old abandoned children’s TV show, “Gloomy Madeleine and her Friends” -peculiar, ugly puppets navigating the strange thing that is time- attempt to make sense of it all through stories, songs and arduous loops of nonsensical chores. These musical videos are comprised of music composed for metallophone, accordion, synthesizer, and toy piano and puppets built out of clay, wood and foam.
Almuhtaal Collective. Almuhtaal will initially develop episodes one and three of 'In the wake of mourning'. In Episode 1: “Port of Removal / Transfer”, they will visit the ports of Beirut and Bremen to collect video, audio and interview material dealing with the transfer and treatment of the 700 tons of toxic material in Germany, materials that could not be treated in Beirut due to the lack of infrastructure. The two cities will mirror each other, just as the two narrators/artists will mirror each other. How were the pollutants found in the port stored and contained? This is one of the many questions they ask themselves as they work with clay and ceramics, materials that are mined and extracted. Episode 3: “Toxic Containers / Burial” is a sculptural process in which they use these materials, drawing inspiration from archaeological records of ceramic containers used in ancient times for transportation, storage and ritual practices.
Musician Nadia Daou will complete her self-built home studio as well as record, mix and master her new album, which will be released on BlauBlau Records (CH) in September 2022.
Bloch, a German philosopher and author of "The Principle of Hope", says: "The most tragic form of loss isn't the loss of security; it's the loss of the capacity to imagine that things could be different." Nour Sokhon (Beirut, Lebanon) and Elisabeth Liselotte Kraus (Berlin/Leipzig, Germany) explore the sensory connections and associations people have with their places of origin and how this affects their sense of belonging. Can home be transported? And if so, how? The results of the multimedia research will explore alternative forms of storytelling and archiving through various artistic markers in the three cities.
Jamaal el Malak is the brainchild of a group of artists, users and residents, Lebanese and foreigners, who share a common interest in the fact that they have lived, worked, observed, experienced, loved and struggled in a conglomeration of flats and workplaces around the Chalhoub building in Beirut's Mar Mikhael district. The name of this formation comes from the beauty salon "Angel Beauty", which was located on the ground floor of the building. Jamaal Al Malaak's project explores the history and future possibilities of Beirut and its inhabitants through the speculative view of this building. It is interested in the politics of places and spaces, their influence on events and people through urban and domestic architecture, personal, material and political histories. In relation to Beirut 2021 – surviving hyperinflation, a nuclear explosion in one's own country, a global pandemic and systemic political and ecological trauma – Jamaal Al Malaak was particularly interested in the tension between inhabiting a local reality as a collective body politic and engaging with the possibilities and pitfalls of virtual space in all its meaning and use, be it historical, present, mnemonic, digital or speculative.