"Chaos is not the opposite of rhythm but the milieu of all milieus"
Deleuze & Guattari



Sunday, 13 October 2013

SOME TIMES IN BEIRUT

The time I went for dinner at the home of the region's biggest collector of religious icons from the Levant and Byzantium. He occasionally lends them to the Louvre for exhibitions. There are many more throughout the house, including on the walls in his children's bedrooms. Some of these are from as early as the 12th century. You can tell which ones are Byzantine as they're ornate and decorative, while the Levantine icons look more naive.

The time we went walking in the hills outside the city and found armfuls of giant pale crystals and geodes that are like sparkling natural glitter bombs when you break them open.

The time I posed in the sea at night in a country where night swimming is pretty much unheard of unless you're a fisherman. The water was shallow, calm and warm, and the rock beneath me was covered in soft seaweed. I looked up at the stars and imagined I was in an ecstatic state somewhere between death and pleasure.

The time I posed in the sea at night and tried to look like I was drowning. Lebanon was very tense at this time and most people were safe in their homes after dark. The waves were breaking over me and I was thrown against the rocks over and over again as I tried to keep my head underwater. I got cold. The volcanic rocks were sharp and grazed my back and arms.
The time I interviewed Samer Kozah about what the situation in Syria means for the country's art scene. He spoke of how he had run a residency programme for young artists before the war and told of leaving his gallery in the old city of Damascus behind. He said Beirut had opened its arms to Syria's creative community and shared his plan to launch the Syrian Art Fair, which opened in Beirut this month. I recently edited the fair catalogue for him. 

The time I edited my first glossy magazine and then had to pull together an art newspaper to go with it a week before the deadline. The night before we went to print I was at the office until 11pm. I had a salad and a glass of wine with my editor-in-chief and our in-house illustrator as we put the finishing touches on the editorial. Then I drove home passing through two army check points in 10 minutes as security was high following a recent spat of car bombs.

The time I chatted with Maripol at the opening of her exhibition of Polaroids from 1980s New York at Beirut's new art space called Station, run by Leila Alaoui and Nabil Canaan. A few days later she screened her films about her friends Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, both downtown legends whose lives and deaths were symptomatic of that decade. Her mapping of street and club culture in Haring's work, set against the AIDs crisis and utopian escapism of The Paradise Garage shared many ideas with my thesis on The House of Beauty and Culture (see my last post). Maripol was an art director for Fiorucci back in the day and styled Madonna's look for Like A Virgin and Debbie Harry for her debut with Blondie. Her grandmother was Lebanese.