Saturday, January 28, 2012

Walking tour for Visual Artists from Hamburg, rethinking Beirut's public space

Since my posting last time, a lot has happened (in the world, Beirut & my life), giving me less time to post, but more things to think about. Anyways, when I got an interesting request to walk on an evening, I walked...and we talked.

An Early evening walk
On Wednesday at 4:00 p.m., a group of 10 students from The University of Fine Arts in Hamburg and their professors; Friedrich von Borries, professor for design-theory and curatorial studies and Daniel Kerber, artist and scientific collaborator of a research group "urban intervention" arrived to Beirut. They are going to see Beirut, talk to artists, curators, and architect, and observe how things work (or not) here and present their own projects and point of views.

Also on Wednesday, two hours post their landing in Beirut, we were ready to go on a walking tour from Rue Pasteur, Gemmayzé to Downtown Beirut Going through Saifi Village and Martyrs' square. What sometimes seems as an evidence for us living here everyday, is questioned by the new observers:
- "Why don't young or poor people squat the old buildings? Isn't there poor people in Beirut"
- "We are in downtown or in Solidere?, is it normal to refer to the area as Solidere?" (after I said "Uruguay Street is also part of Solidere")
- "There is no one on Martyrs' square"(at 8:00pm)
- "Short and tall buildings, old and new buildings, is everything mixed in Beirut?" (or somethings and some people don't mix?) 
- "There is a 30 years urban plan of Berlin" (is there a 2 year plan for Beirut??)

Is Public space in Beirut bringing the people together or separating and segregating the crowds? the case of Martyr's Square was recently discussed in a series of Articles by Tanya Gallo here and here and here
Also, Horsh Beirut, the pine forest of Beirut is kept closed for sociopolitical reasons and opened only on special occasion or events, Nahnoo NGO opens a debate on the subject to discuss the challenges.

With the group at the latest Marwan Rechmawi exhibition at Sfeir-Semler .
Very Interesting, catch it if you are in Beirut.

Lunch in Jesuit Garden
The Beirut Green Project, whom I joined for Lunch in Jesuit garden in Geitawi in October, is holding a 2 days project with the German students and 10 lebanese students this weekend. The outcome will be presented at Altcity, Tomorrow Sunday at 5pm, you can check the Facebook Event here. I will be looking forward for that!

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