What do we really mean when we call Beirut a 'queer city'?
What a queer urban future looks like: Beirut
Between the years of 1975 and 1990, Lebanon was locked in a civil war that was punctuated by military invasions and occupations. The Israeli state occupied the south of Lebanon, one fourth of the country’s landmass, until the year 2000. Since then, there has been another war and intermittent bombing raids by Israel, a series of political assassinations and terrorist attacks, and a war in Syria that is also fought by Lebanese, sometimes within Lebanese territory. When the Lebanese civil war ended, so did public conversation about it. Back then, downtown Beirut was still filled with rabid dogs who, it was rumored, liked the taste of human flesh. The buildings and shops of Hamra street were still pockmarked with bullet holes and veined with cracks and craters, and the city still stunk of garbage (a smell that is once again pervasive given the state’s criminal neglect of trash collection and processing), and billboards did not stare down at you from every vantage point. In fact, bullet holes and barbed wire were much more common than buildings with more than four floors. West Beirut was much less crowded than it is today. I remember feeling disoriented as the landmarks of my childhood were replaced with shiny new restaurants, cafes, and advertisements. As downtown Beirut was remodeled into a visitor’s brochure, it was difficult to talk about the structural violences that pervaded the post-war “reconstruction” of Lebanon. It was difficult to resist the seduction, and the induction, not to remember.
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Spotlight on Qatari graffiti artist Mubarak al Malak
I love what graffiti represents; graffiti as an urban art form goes by unnoticed and unappreciated in Qatar.
I’m not saying that the installations in our museums aren’t art (they’re actually incredibly beautiful and you should go to MIA if you haven’t already) I’m just saying that they lack the spontaneity that traditional graffiti inspires on the streets.
Continue reading on Blog Qatari
The immutable portraitist
I started painting when I was a child. I can still remember when I was around 10 and the village school closed for summer holidays, my father took me in his car to go and get painting material. When I tried oil painting for the first time, no one had told me about turpentine, so I just mixed the pigments my father had bought with cooking oil! Even though I use professional painting oil and better pigments nowadays, I will never forget the smell of those first pigments. Each time I smell the oil I remember them.
Continue reading on Mashallah News
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