I do want to do something.

Heroic battles. (on the workshop Communities and Territories, Beirut)
November 25, 2007, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Beirut notes

These are some notes taken after the day 1 of the workshop communities and territories organized by amazelab in Beirut from 19 to the 21 of November. The workshop is divided in 3 groups. I am in a group led by Calin Dan and Alfred Tarazi. The title of our workshop is City Tag.  

>What can I do here? For whom and for what? This city is so much, it is so charged its so tired. It’s so used. What is it about Beirut, about its name, about the visceral love and hate relation it provokes?  

>My desire for discussing and having the need to talk more about things people said, thought, wanted, did not know, was cut short by the workshop’s structure. 3 days and the delivery of a product. The form, given the time frame, was agreed to be an individual contribution depending on each one’s background, skills and desires. The idea of subjective mapping, of how to make a city one’s own, to define one’s relationship to the city surfaced quickly. How can I make a city mine? What is my narrative?I felt a bit nauseated by this exacerbation of the I in relation to all this. Not because of the its presence, but because it seemed that this I was the cause and was not only the staring point of many works but the very medium and scope. It’s maybe this scope that disturbed me and the restless desire of appropriation of a narrative (- you can say that my very writing on this topic is my desire to appropriate the narrative of the workshop and to find my position in it- ).

Marwa thought this exacerbation as an attempt to define one’s individuality outside the family, the territory and the religion. The conquest of the “I” , the city and one’s subjectivity as an attempt to emancipate oneself from sectarian and exclusionary dynamics. Performing the I so as to create another realm of understanding. I can understand this, but I can’t see it much more than symptomatic. It  can be a starting point, but to do what? Or maybe it is necessary to do it this way given the burden of the context. Maybe it is a heroic attempt, the impossibility to stop swimming at the risk of drowning. An ongoing battle. Exhausting.

>I just have some doubts about the politics of this conquest because it involves a distance. If one says that a city is not mine, where is one standing and what is involved in this distance? Often, to bridge it, one starts seeing characters as Mohamed the guy who sells coffee at the Corniche as a fascinating characters, old ladies and mad men, fascinating. This is “my Beirut”. Ok, I mean, why not have these stories, but what are we going to do with them and how are you conveying them? I understand the I, and its necessity and the finding of place, but it seems that this search (in the ideas and works I have seen today) leaves no space for negotiation.Maybe there is no time and no space for negotiation. This is also maybe due to my expectation of having the possibility and the space of do something together not as a collection of contributions, but think a group so we can push ourselves a bit further, or not. Meet our limitations and work with them. Not as a group therapy session but let out dynamics lead us somewhere. Maybe that is what most disturbed me, not having the time to instate a dynamic. Maybe there is no time. Maybe there is just time for doing. Maybe its’just my anxiety of productivity.

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