Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11, 13 years later.

Manhattan mon amour - Tarek Chemaly
I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that all of us remember where we were on that fatidic moment when the planes hit the twin towers in New York on September 11, 2001 (I was on my desk on my first advertising job in an agency in Achrafieh in Beirut). Not having seen the images yet, when the platinum-blonde colleague said that a plane had hit the tower (at the time it was one plane, one tower), I thought it was some light plane which drifted off-course by mistake. Minutes later it was the second plane, the second tower.
And the rest is history. Dark, convoluted, twisted, opaque history.
In 1999, I visited the twin towers (one of the rare touristic things I agreed to do while visiting my brother in New York), actually - one of the towers had an observation deck for tourists at its top, the second had a posh restaurant. Seeing I was going to stand in a huge queue and not being that interested in the first place, I went to the restaurant's elevator, when asked if had a reservation I said "yes", got up to the top floor, was received by a waitress - who told me to have a drink at the bar while my table (figurative table) is freed, and so I went to the edge of the restaurant, looked out the windows, snapped photos, left promptly, without being noticed.
The repercussions of that day still haunt us, and whereas this blog does not focus on politics in its limited sense, as a Lebanese citizen, we can feel these effects on daily basis - have you tried having a visa lately? have you tried going on a break to destress in some neighbrouring country like you used to? have you looked at the people who are now inhabiting your area? have you tried to get a political get-go from (what used to be) powerful nations in our vacinity? have you tried questioning policies or eavesdropping or privacy policies? have you seen if your name is on some terrorist list because of an email you sent or some other act you might have commited or not?
I shall let the puntdits, the talking heads, and the politicians fill the televised air with their ideas and parroted notions, all of which were previously - eloquently and brilliantly - predicted by by Jean Beaudrillard in his seminal essay "l'esprit du terrorisme" written in Le Monde in that year (November 2nd, less than two months after the attacks - read it in French here and in English here).
The above piece illustrating this post is a rework of the only piece I kept to myself from my first solo exhibition "superm-art-ket" (the rest was donated or sold), and is called "Manhattan mon amour" and was influenced by the events of that day (it was done immediately after the event). In 2011, I did a full video art about the topic (knitting 7 of my poems on 2011 frames which were hand-animated on a digital platform) here's the result below. It may not give us visas, but at least this kind of art can give us a voice.

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