Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ShizoFREMIA: How way leads on to way


This is the second part of the first Schizo"frem"ia. It occurred on Saturday November 28th 2009 when my Slovenian friend and fellow artist Miha Vipotnik was visiting my house in Daroun. Miha, being very familiar with my work knew the first Schizo"frem"ia work, but as we walked along the old road leading to St. Ephram, we discovered that halfway throughout a new extension was being built transforming thus the road forever. Is the memory of the old road present anywhere but in my own archive? Does it still exist in some parallel universe? Was the presence of Miha in itself a changing agent -- even literally? Is the "memory of a memory" a memory onto itself or is it a diluted version of the first?
PS - I am sharing this video art today because today is the commemoration of St. Ephram or Mar Frem. Below is the creative rationale of the first video art (which is basically the first two split screens of the video above):
 St Ephram, Frem for short, is the patron Saint of the village I come from. It is a lovely little church which, when I was a toddler, was only accessible through a very difficult road in the woods. The commemoration of St. Frem is on January 28, but since the winters were harsh and the accessibility in bad time was almost nul, the village decided to honor him on the first Sunday that follows 14th of September (or “eid el salib” – the commemoration of the cross) in a feast that would gather everyone.
That social event, which coincides with the end of summer, was for people of my generation the pinnacle of the summer – the place where we had fun, spent the day, ate boiled wheat, listened to music, and marked the end of a summer and promised friends to come back after going down to Beirut.
Sometime in the mid 80s the municipality dug a new road, one that was compatible with cars, then it was asphalted and now is the official road to go to St. Frem. This year, as a tribute to the old days, I retraced the old road in the wood on Jan. 28 and on Sept. 21 (Which coincided with the third Sunday of the month) and discovered that no one took that road anymore.
I was alone in my pilgrimage, alone with the remembrance of the music we played on the ghetto blaster, and alone in thinking that retracing childhood memories through a road that goes through woods is worthwhile.
When I came back, I did it in my brother's car, and did so on the new road – where cars and people were congesting the scene.
The whole episode was videotaped, and the result is nothing but a question as to how important old places are and if they are worth revisiting. The title of the video stems from the famous poem by Robert Frost "The road not taken" which ends with "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."
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