Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Libans de Reves: Tarek Chemaly x Charif Megarbane audiovisual collaboration


Based on a title which is a part of a sentence by Rimbaud in his prose poem “Villes I” in Les Illuminations, “Libans de reves” (or “Lebanons of dreams”) is an audiovisual diptych between visual artist Tarek Chemaly and musician Charif Megarbane (the talent behind the Cosmic Analog Ensemble) which includes “CocoCommodore” and “Abou el Rish” – a kind of false introspection for a nation that lost sight of itself (assuming it ever had it).

CocoCommodore tackles the story of Coco, a grey African parrot owned by the BBC correspondent Chris Drake and which sat in the lobby of the Commodore Hotel in Beirut. Coco was able to whistle the Marseillaise, the opening bars of Beethoven's 5th symphony but his specialty was imitating the incoming sound of shells (a trick every newbie journalist at the Commodore would fall for). In Feburary 1987, the hotel was raided and looted by mitiliamen and Coco was abducted in the process. Chris Drake put a reward of 10,000 LBP at the time for anyone who could bring back Coco, but to no avail.
Abou El Rish (father of feathers) is a character that showed up out of nowhere in west Beirut during the war (specifically around 1981) and built himself a cardboard shack net to the American University of Beirut. He would wear strange medallions and a hat with feathers on it (hence the nickname) and would try to play traffic police with a duster. People would give him leftover food, and have pity on him and help him. When the Israeli invasion (the second one) came in 1982 it was revealed that he was an intelligence officer to the Israeli army whose work was to collect information. A mass hysteria happened afterwards with people reporting his sightings on barricades on in patrols. Private information gathered shows that he was a Iranian jew who eventually went to Israel and got recruited in the Israeli Defence Forces.
The original soundtrack by the Cosmic Analog Ensemble can be heard independently on this link.
Original sountrack and sleeve jacket by Charif Megarbane


Post a Comment