the sea is a stereo
videos, collages, nivea cream jar, and other, 2007-2010

The sea is a stereo is an on-going series of reflections on a group of men who swim everyday at the beach in Beirut no matter the circumstances: rain, wind, war, etc. Even as we read this, the men might be swimming or preparing themselves to do so. The work consists of different elements: a number of videos, photo-collages, a lecture and other materials. I see these elements as different possibilities for making the sea is a stereo, which seems to me a never-ending work; like the men in Beirut who will never stop swimming.

 

 

Paris without a sea

video nº 2, 12mns, 2007-08

Paris without a sea focuses on interviews that I did with the men. Usually, making an interview presupposes that there should be an interviewer and an interviewee, and that the two stand on different sides. This video tries to question this presupposition:

the interviews begin by asking very basic matters that seem to be banal but that in fact touch on critical sociological and anthropological issues such as most of the men’s nick names for instance. Sometimes the exaggerated fast rhythm of the video, and these surprising questions and answers make the video slide into the absurd, where appropriation and performance constitute underlying strong components, since we will soon notice, I have lip-synchronized my voice over the men’s voices. So I become one with them, and I become the interviewer and the interviewee, while we are surprised to hear their soft and feminine voice. Thus now all men have the same voice, and that is mine. I of course had to practice and learn each man's accent, and this allowed me to embody each character that I so much admire. As a result we wonder how does a voice represent a person? And how does that affect our expectations to hear others' voices, based on our voice that we never manage to hear like we hear others’ voices?

 

Let’s not swim then!

video nº 3, 90mns, 2007-09

Let’s Not Swim Then! is a video based on different scenes of the swimmers filmed individually or in groups as they are on the beach or going there. These scenes were filmed between 2006 and 2008 at different locations on the public beach in Beirut, and during different times of the year. Each of the scenes is followed by remarks that some of the men have made after watching a playback. The remarks clarify the relationship of the men with each other, as well as their relation with the coastline in Beirut and the shrinking public beaches where they swim. These scenes intimately show us the daily engagement of the men: how they struggle daily to find the right spot for swimming in Beirut, and where each one of them prefers to swim. During some days, conflicts were rising in the city while the men on the beach purposely ignore what is happening, in these scenes, we could feel the tension, but we are never directly told what is happening. However, it becomes obvious how diverse the backgrounds of the men are, and how sometimes they really have conflicting or tensed relations.

This video however, in an open and loose way, allows us to get a closer look at the men’s daily diverse activities on the beach, while it also keeps them almost silent, since what they say is not translated, and since we are not sure if the remarks we read are real or fictional.

 

Linking

Hand-cut photo-collage on wooden white painted shelf, hand-written notes with pen, pencils, ballpoint pens and markers, 6,60 m. x 2,20 m., 2009 - ongoing

Linking the first spot in the city that the men might see from the sea as they swim parallel to the coast line in Beirut to the last one, this photo-collage is made of photos that I denuded from the sea and from the sky, focussing on the almost interlace-like relationship between endless threatening buildings from all times.

Around the collage, I hand-wrote personal notes and general ones commenting on the Corniche and the buildings, mostly in relation to the swimmers, and to myself.

 

Nivea jar

Silk screen and airbrushed enamel on original Nivea jar

4 x 5 x 3 cm, 2008

This Nivea jar is made by reflections on a sentence Abu Wahid says in video Paris without a sea and the repetitive and conscious act of excessively using Nivea by Abu Sakhra.