The University of the Holy Spirit Kaslik, USEK, is commemorating the 40th onset of the Lebanese war with an exhibition entitled FARGO by artist Tarek Chemaly, who is also a member of its academic body.
Whereas the Lebanese war was brewing for a long time, the accident that erupted it to no return was what happened between the Phalangists and the Palestinians in Ain el Roumaneh when the former opened fire on the latter while riding a bus, in retaliation to earlier events. This was the declic for the Lebanese war. Since then the “bus”, or “Ain el Roumaneh’s bus” or “April 13th bus” has been part of the collective history of the Lebanese. But that bus, it had a brand “Fargo”. This exhibition will try to recount the contemporary history of Lebanon through pop culture and brands.
"Fargo" is a project which will focus on pop culture as a bridging element in Lebanon, a way to create a hyphen between people who support antagonistic political sections in lieu of a real book to be used as a manual in schools (which still does not exist because politicians still did not agree what happened during the war). It also tries to raise the question of what really makes a national identity, specifically in troubled times. In addition, the fine line between collective and personal memory is explored as well, and tries to put personal remembrances as event which were significant for whole communities. In a search for a common thread that might make society agglomerate around a common element.
The opening of the exhibition will take place on the 6th of May at the university premises in presence of the artist, and it continues till the 20th.
The opening night will be accompanied by the projection of the movie Hamasat “Whispers” (1975) by Maroun Baghdadi featuring Nadia Tueni visiting the devastated Lebanese regions and recounting in a text – as beautiful as it is punchy – the odyssey of the Lebanese entrepreneurs who remained so as for Lebanon to keep on living. The projection will be followed by a discussion with the producer of the movie Farid Chehab, currently honorary chairman of the board of Leo Burnett MENA, about the Lebanese collective memory.
About Tarek Chemaly:
Tarek Chemaly, born in 1974, is an agriculture engineer and an environmental economist who converted himself into a communication consultant (advertising and marketing) and university lecturer but also has recycled his talents (in an environmentally-friendly way) as blogger, online publisher and artist.
His themes center around childhood, war, urban alienation, and that mythical space between personal experiences and collective memories with pop culture as a bridging gap.