Thursday, June 18, 2009

8.12 USD and timeless art.

Artworks by: Abdel Hamid Baalbaki, Aref Rayess, Fouad El Khoury, Jamil Molaeb, Laure Ghorayeb, Mohammad Rawas, Samir Khaddage-Marc Mourani Today, I have checked my adsense account - you know, the google ads thing I added to my blog - maybe it ought ot be called Ad none-sense. As it transpired for the period of May, when my blog was packing 108 people a day for 2 mimutes 53 seconds, I earned a grand total of.... 8,12 USD. Now mind you, I had never pinned financial hopes on adsense, but everyone kept bugging me to add it to the blog to make it financially viable, so I ended up doing it. For a long time, people would be asking me how I was to make money - not just out of my blog - but out of the multitude of my creative projects (Be they art, writing, etc....). My second book, "Getting the news from poems" was distributed for free in ebook format, my artworks whereas quite popular during the exhibition did not sell due a strategic decision I have taken which aims at preserving the body of the works rather than scattering them all over.... So basically, there has been little of no money from my creative endeavours. Now, before anyone jumps into conclusions and starts with the donation box, I live quite well from my various financial entries and my different jobs. But if pressed on an business plan about my artworks or other creative venues, I admit to practically not having one. So maybe, the 8,12 USD was some sort of a wake up call of some sort. On all accounts, having misread the invitation card, I went to the Beirut Art Center tonight thinking it was the opening night of the new show "The road to peace" which showcases 20 Lebanese artists who painted the topic of war in a sustained way. The show was so emotionally overwhelming - not just for the quality of the art that curator Saleh Barakat managed to gather - for also for personal reasons as a lot of these artowrks reminded me of my uncle's collection and many childhood memories associated with the war (Not all of them bad I have to admit). Little by little, another topic starting invading my thoughts - did any of these artists managed to sell these artworks during the war? Has anyone of them made a fortune from his works?.... I remember reading an interview with Jamil Molaeb during the war and he struck me as someone tired, lonely and even depressed. His most stricking statement during the interview was "If I met a woman during the day, I wouldn't mind stripping down." Other artists I have also seen on television did not inspire jollyness, or financial riches.... And Hassan Jouni, who was opening his exhibition at the Agial gallery (Which belongs to Saleh Barakat) proposed to me to exchange any of his newer works (Which were selling by the thousands of Dollars by the mid-nineties) in exhanged to have that one artwork of his we have at home (His graduation project which allowed him to go to Spain and continue his studies). Naturally, it would be a lie for anyone to say that he or she does not wish to be another Damien Hirst with Sothebey auction bringing him millions upon millions. But seeing those works, produced in the folly of the war, when market - or accessibility to market - was non-existent just reminds one about the fact that the best artworks exist on their own merit. Speaking of the Beatles, rock critic Paul DuNoyer said "Real art exists in the present tense." And all these staggering works in the show also exist in the present tense, not having aged one single day. However, I am also sure that had these people not have produced the artworks in question, all their creative energy would have lead to an implosion, a self-destruction mechanism that would have been triggered had the creative energy not burst out. As thoughts of money, immortality, and about why people do anything creative at all.... I asked the assistant for a press kit to which she replied: "Of course, but with which media?" "Beirut/NTSC" I barely replied still a bit too sad and lost in my thoughts. "So you must be Tarek Chemaly," She said matter of factly..... Her answer somehow made sense of it all: The hours spent roaming the city for new ads, the frenzy of posting them and commenting on them on the blog, the effort done to make everything fit, the 8,12 USD, and the creative endeavours.
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