L’université Dar al-Kalima (Bethléem, Palestine) et l’ONG Dar al-Kalima/programme Nabad (nabad.art) au Liban organisent un atelier d’une journée sur l’art et la citoyenneté, le 16 décembre 2021, à l’hôtel Bossa Nova de Sin el-Fil.
Face à la situation actuelle du pays, il est urgent de définir des projets qui aideront à former des citoyens et citoyennes aptes à vivre ensemble, à se construire une identité unie dans la diversité, de même qu’une société inclusive. En ce sens, l’art et la culture constituent des routes privilégiées. Malheureusement, elles ne sont pas souvent empruntées ou sont qualifiées de secondaires. D’où l’importance de la déconstruction de savoirs sclérosés concernant tant l’art que la citoyenneté, car si l’art a servi et sert encore la propagande politique, il est aussi, comme l’affirme Picasso, « un instrument de guerre » contre la tyrannie. Il est surtout un éveilleur de conscience et une plateforme de choix pour l’éducation à la citoyenneté. L’art fait d’ailleurs éclater les idées reçues : il aide à réconcilier les individus et les communautés, à guérir les blessures aussi. C’est dans cette perspective que se situe l’atelier du 16 décembre courant. Un atelier parmi trois initiatives (Beyrouth, Amman, Gaza) qui accompagnent la 23e conférence internationale de Dar al-Kalima sur l’art et la citoyenneté prévue à Bethléem les 15 et 16 décembre 2021. Avec pour objectif, notamment, de promouvoir l’avènement de sociétés inclusives en Asie du Sud-Ouest.
Plusieurs questions seront abordées par des artistes et des représentants d’entreprises créatives et d’organisations d’art. Comment les initiatives artistiques locales et de la diaspora peuvent-elles avoir un impact plus important compte tenu des défis actuels – crise économique, troubles politiques et injustice sociale ?Quels sont les besoins des individus, des groupes et des associations qui réinventent les notions traditionnelles de création artistique et contribuent au développement de leur société à travers le pouvoir transformateur de leurs capacités artistiques ou par un engagement social proactif ? Et quelles sont les pistes permettant d’aller de l’avant ? Pour plus d’informations, contactez Nabad/Dar al-Kalima au Liban par courriel :
Proud to announce that “The Beirut Call: Harnessing Creativity for Change” anthology hardcover is now available on Amazon, and as an ebook on Kobo.com, Lehmanns.de, Chapters.indigo.ca, and Fnac.com. Proceeds will help Nabad further support artists, small creative enterprises, and arts NGOs in Lebanon.
We had an amazing virtual book launch event via Zoom organized by Elyssar Press and sponsored by the Shuffle Collective (California – USA), and which full video will soon be shared.
“The Beirut Call. Harnessing Creativity for Change” is Nabad by Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture project of a book on resilience & resistance culture in Lebanon, featuring 21 artists, poets, authors, activists, and academics testimonials, analyses, narratives, and stories of initiatives for social change.
Proceeds will help Nabad continue to fund artists, arts NGOs, and small creative enterprises’ projects in Lebanon.
Editors: Pamela Chrabieh and Roula Salibi, Beirut (Lebanon).
How and why did we let ourselves be continuously buried under the rubble? Without implicating ourselves in entrenching the Orientalist caricatures of Southwestern Asian societies as incapable of self-government, there are questions to be asked about quietist and conformist tendencies, about the ostrich-like behavior, and the zombie attitude. These questions do not lend themselves to easy answers. But engaging with them may facilitate critical assessment of the prospects for sustainable change. According to Patricio Aylwin Azocar: “Ordinary men and women may often feel unmotivated to exert their citizenship, either because they cannot tell the difference between the different alternatives, or because they have lost faith in the political classes, or because they feel that the really important issues are not in their power to decide”. As for the well-known poet Adonis, he reproaches the deification of the political party, the ideology, and the community – Adonis opposes the sacralization that colors and creeps into politics, turning parliamentarians, ministers, and other public servants into demi-gods, their ideologies into gospels and political parties into quasi-sects. Indeed, over the past decades, the legacy of multiple wars in Lebanon, including hypermnesia, and paradoxically the tabula rasa mentality and strategy, have produced in the minds of a good many Lebanese the illusion that somehow “somebody” – the warlord, the zaim, the political party, the sectarian community/belonging – but not the State (or the embodiment of the common management of our diversity), can provide for ALL needs, so why make much effort to fulfill what used to be considered in practice (or are considered in the Constitution) the responsibilities of any citizen? As Larbi Sadiki describes Adonis in The Search for Arab Democracy, he is in all of this “an iconoclast”. “His predilection is for fluidity, plurality, and provisionalism”. The icons of Lebanese politics have all cultivated and entrenched political iconolatry, and that iconolatry has been internalized by many Lebanese, thus has weakened the case for citizenship. Adonis’s iconoclasm (desacralization) seems therefore justified, but in my opinion, when it comes to the Lebanese case, iconoclasm is not a generalized rebellion which will not take place given local divisions – and let us not forget the chaotic outcome of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ in most countries where it occurred -, but a change-making process located in multiple local and diasporic social-political struggles already taking place. Agents of dialogue, non-governmental organizations, academics, and activists have been trying their best, especially since the 1990s (and before), to raise awareness about the necessity of reforming the social-political system and of finding solutions to numerous crises such as the economic, environmental, cultural,…; crises of paradigms, identities, difference, indifference, intolerance, belligerence, ignorance, oppression, fanaticism, and of missionary zeal. However, if we want to shift from subjection, autocracy, blind faith, absolutism, fixity, non-participatory polity, and “denizenship” to citizenship and good governance, we will have to crawl out from under the rubble, we will have to desacralize, we will have to become iconoclasts, and by that I mean: we will have to start making use of the energy and creativity of all these agents and encourage new initiatives, to serve our society (and continue on serving) even from afar (Lebanese living in diaspora) while continuing our primary missions, to pull up the stories of people who have been silenced, to harness solidarity into forms of actions that would contribute to the change-making process in an efficient manner, and to redirect the substantial energy of our frustration – when our streets and lives are vanishing under piles of glass, debris and garbage – and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination. “If beyond hopelessness there is hope, I am hopeful” (Elias Khoury). And I am calling on my fellow academics and artists to further publicize/disseminate their knowledge as a catalyst for social-political change, to share and continue to share the myriad ways they use their expertise to expand public discourse and promote social justice, human rights, peacebuilding, and alternative diversity management approaches. Intellectual activism or public sociology – or social justice education/ peace education – is an important form of activism that should accompany street protests, boycotts, and demonstrations. It is about the democratization of knowledge, about facilitating other forms of activism by giving people data, symbols, and paradigms they can reference to back up their positions on social and political issues (as Popkewitz and others have noted, “Knowledge provides the principles through which options are made available, problems defined, and solutions considered as acceptable and effective”), by fostering dialogue and constructive criticism. It is about stepping out of the office and putting the accumulated research to use. It is about ‘being academic and artist’ as a social role, not just a job, especially when the silence of many maintains injustice, which it frequently does. True that academia and the arts do more than influence society, they are also shaped by it, they reflect the antagonisms and reproduce them, they are contested sites where various agendas and desires are promoted and through which power circulates to produce and legitimate certain kinds of knowledge, experience and ways of knowing, but academia — and some aspects of artistic production — in Lebanon is also inherently an elitist hierarchical structure and most academics/artists are worried about keeping their jobs, getting tenure and selling their artworks. Furthermore, as Henry Giroux notes, “Neoliberalism assaulted all things public, sabotaged the basic contradiction between democratic values and market fundamentalism (…), it also weakened any viable notion of political agency by offering no language capable of connecting private considerations to public issues…As democratic values give way to commercial values, intellectual ambitions are often reduced to an instrument of the entrepreneurial self, and social visions are dismissed as hopelessly out of date”.
Yet despite these limitations and that of self-enclosure of the Ivory Tower, there are already engaged Lebanese academics and artists, iconoclasts, and they are making a difference, but more need to engage beyond their classrooms, books and academic journals, and ‘ateliers’, to be in the act of researching people, themselves, the dynamics of oppression and the politics of social interactions and injustices, to become aware of the people’s often unknowingly complicit in the process of oppression, to create knowledge in and through meaningful participation and action with others, to bring people together and contribute to finding reasons of solidarity, to transform boundaries into spaces where lives and pedagogies are constructed together in ways that work for social justice and lead to powerful possibilities, and where dialogic and open-ended praxis based on more collaborative and caring relationships is promoted.
*A text by Dr. Pamela Chrabieh — published on August 16, 2020, republished on April 13, 2021.
The Beirut Call, coming out this April 2021, is one of Nabad’s latest projects in Lebanon.
This anthology offers a collection of first-hand accounts by artists, scholars, poets, and activists exploring the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion on August 4th of 2020.
Over 20 voices have come together for this publication and proceeds from The Beirut Call will help NABAD continue to fund artists, art NGOs, and locally-owned creative enterprises in Lebanon.
For this publication, Elyssar Press has partnered with the nonprofit Nabad, an outgrowth of the Dar al-Kalima University. We hope this blog serves as a mere introduction to the powerful and critical work that Nabad enables.
Please share THIS ARTICLE with a friend or anyone who is interested in the way art and social change empower communities and mold a more equitable society.
Published by Elyssar Press on March 20, 2021, Redlands-CA, USA.
Read the full article on the Nabad program and its projects in Lebanon, written by Florence Massena and published by London-based news website The New Arab – Elaraby.co.uk “The heart of Beirut – devastated by the August 4 explosion – was the home of many artists, cultural actors, and companies that were part of the social fabric of the city. Outside emergency relief initiatives, some organizations like Nabad wish to give them back the spark to go on with their projects and ideas” (…).The heart of Beirut – devastated by the August 4 explosion – was the home of many artists, cultural actors, and companies that were part of the social fabric of the city.
“Nabad was launched last November as an intervention in the artistic and cultural milieu in Lebanon. It’s a Lebanese-Palestinian program financed by Dar al Kalima University in Bethlehem, whose director Dr. Mitri Raheb is a friend of Pamela Chrabieh, founder and program manager.
For now, they are at the first phase of activity, in Lebanon until May 2021, hoping to secure more funds to become permanent and evolve regionally.
“After the explosion, Dr. Mitri called me, he asked me how his university could help,” Chrabieh recalled to The New Arab. “Emergency help was big for the first three months, so we were wondering how to make an impact on the long-term.”
After contacting her friend Roula Salibi, the projects coordinator, they started a two-month work of field research, identifying the different cultural actors of the area, talking to them, and identifying the real needs on the ground. They ended up conceiving a hybrid program, based on art intervention, outreach, empowerment, and artistic creation.
“At the beginning, we thought we would focus on relief,” Salibi told The New Arab. “But we saw that people were already helped a lot by NGOs and small organizations, to renovate studios and galleries for example. What they were wondering was: how can we survive and work in the long-term?”(…)
In order to support artists and creative companies efficiently, Nabda launched a platform called Arleb with a first online exhibition of more than 500 works made by 61 emerging and established artists.
“Because of the pandemic, it’s not possible to go see an exhibition,” Chrabieh said. “So we decided to give artists a platform, free of charge, where they could exhibit and sell their work, mainly abroad because they need “fresh dollars” in order to be able to afford material.
“But it’s not just financial. The theme was set, on cultural resistance and Beirut, so most of them did create something new. I think the most important for us is to see artists be dynamic again, feeling boosted to create.”
Among their multiple ideas and projects, the team members try mostly to give back a voice to the cultural actors who may be overwhelmed by the situation.
“We’re doing whatever we can with the budget we got,” Chrabieh said. “Everything we do is based on community and solidarity, so that the heart of cultural Beirut beats a little. The situation is very tough, and we just want to give to artists, promote their work, and hope better days will come.”Read the full article HERE. Thank you for your support!
“Our team has been hard at work finalizing the first anthology that Elyssar Press is publishing. We are honored to be a part of this incredible project. The Beirut Call is a collection of first-hand accounts by artists, scholars, poets, and activists exploring the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion on August 4th of 2020.For this publication, we have partnered with the nonprofit Nabad, an outgrowth of the Dar al-Kalima University, College of Arts and Culture. Over 20 voices have come together for this anthology. Proceeds from The Beirut Call will help Nabad continue to fund artists, art NGOs, and locally-owned creative enterprises in Lebanon”.