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the in-between: a call to arms


I'm sleepless in a basement in Paris.

The floor is untreated concrete, the bricks lazily painted white, the structural columns still speak of the wood corset that held them up, the ceiling divided by nine lines that hold the floor above. The basement could be a bunker.

If I were a Lebanese artist in his/her late 30s, I would be thinking of the civil war. I would be thinking of a possible art project where I would film myself in this very bunker talking about my memories of the newspaper headlines, the phone calls, the letters, the sound of gunshots and explosions I heard...
on my television set in Paris or London or New York.

If I were a Lebanese artist making an art piece about the civil war, I would not make it. Friends who have heard screams, seen scattered limbs and trembled with the shaking foundations do not talk about war. It resides in them, it has marked and scarred them, but it is stowed away in a faraway place. If I had seen blood in the streets, I would not want to remember it.

An honest piece is a raw bite taken out of the cold hard truth. Don't remember war from a postcard, don't even think you can imagine the terror, your paintbrush will lose its false bristles the moment you touch upon that blank piece of canvas that is your memory of war.

Do we need a new war to stop talking about the old one?

If you must pay your debts to the war that you fled, confront it, contemplate it and challenge it. And then maybe talk about the contemporary Lebanon that is half empty with witnesses and half full of deserters, and then maybe talk about why we are, who we are and how we are. Propose to us our identity instead of proving that you thought of back home when the sky was red beyond the horizon, show us our image so that we can be better, show us a direction so we know where to move on.

This is a call to arms to those that do not want to talk about war, but want to combat the mountain of residue resting on the shoulders of those who know, and want to construct instead of blow more dust in the wind.

This is a call to armistice.

Now, go make some art.

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