Interview with Pamela Chrabieh by Itsliquid Group, Venice – Italy


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INTERVIEW: PAMELA CHRABIEH

Interview: Pamela Chrabieh
Luca Curci talks with Pamela Chrabieh during ANIMA AMUNDI FESTIVAL 2019 – VISIONS at Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi.

Pamela Chrabieh is a Lebanese & Canadian Doctor in Sciences of Religions, scholar, visual artist, activist, university professor, writer and consultant. She has exhibited her artworks in Canada, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Italy, and has organized and participated in art workshops and art therapy sessions in North America, Europe and Western Asia. She was selected as one of the 100 most influential women in Lebanon in 2013, and won several national and regional prizes in Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

Interview: Pamela Chrabieh
Image courtesy of Pamela Chrabieh

Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Pamela Chrabieh – I was born and raised in the 1970s-1980s war in Lebanon. Growing up in war left me with a thirst to discover the truth behind the endless years spent in shelters and displacement, the survival techniques I learned, such as how to avoid snipers and land mines, the suffering following the destruction of our houses and the horrific deaths of loved ones, the fascination with war games I used to play, and the hours spent with my parents trying to look for bread. War has definitely marked my identity, world vision, and visual expression, but also my journeys and experiences at the crossroads of several countries, cultures and religions.

LC – Which subject are you working on?
PC – Mainly, war and peace as a general subject. Sub-subjects include: Dialogue, Human Rights, Gender Equality, Freedom of Expression, Cultural interpenetrations, Inclusion, etc.

LC – What is your creative process like?
PC – My visual art accompanies my writing, is influenced by it and influences it. And both creative journeys are closely linked to my personal experiences. These experiences should be powerful enough to push me to express myself me such as violence, separation, exile or death. I rarely produce content when I’m going through a status quo. And I rarely follow a strict path to create combinations of words, forms, colors and energies. Emotions and ideas progressively intermingle, and ultimately incarnate. I don’t see the creative journey as a series of specific steps set in stone, from preparation to implementation, but a multilevel construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of mental, physical and spiritual dynamics.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
PC – My artworks are a certain reflection of my journey as a resilient human being, a war survivor who is relentlessly searching for inner peace and peace with others, so that the vicious cycle of war breaks.

Interview: Pamela Chrabieh
Image courtesy of Pamela Chrabieh

LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
PC – As I see it, being an artist nowadays is being (or should be about being) engaged in the production and dissemination of counter-cultures facing hegemonic cultures. It’s also being kind of a neo-renaissance human being, actively participating in building bridges across cultures and working towards more inclusive societies. Beyond a mere profession or a simple expression of one’s emotions, making art is and should be about living it and creating connections through it.

LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
PC – Definitely, and as previously mentioned, it is at the heart of my approach and quest. Anima Mundi symbolizes connections between cultures and religions; the contemporary and the traditional; the physical and the mental; the visible and the invisible; the past, present, and future; the logos (word) and the eikon (image); humanity, the natural and the spiritual, etc.

Interview: Pamela Chrabieh
Image courtesy of Pamela Chrabieh

LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
PC – War disconnects lives, memories, and experiences by creating endless cycles of violence, murderous identities, and wounded memories. I have come to believe that these memories are inevitably transmitted from generation to generation in private and public spaces, and that socio-political conviviality and peace need both individual and national healing processes. Or else, the load of traumas that we carry will prevail, fueled by the continuous local and regional crises and State-sponsored amnesia. Contrary to war, peace is the art of connecting. It is a continuous process encompassing historical subjectivities and energies in interpenetrative modes; a process of interacting dynamics, fragmented and common truths, voices, paths, and pathos.
A Duwama (spiral or vortex) is a visualization of this peacebuilding process. It symbolizes life versus death, positive movement towards the manifestation of connections, and therefore, towards forgiveness, healing, and conviviality.
Every one of my Duwamas is a story of transformation, from a shattered and disconnected situation, event, emotion or experience, to a connected realm.

LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
PC – It’s a platform that translates across diverse channels and contributes to transnational creative communication. It pushes the envelope and helps artists who think outside the box connect and discover the richness of their differences.

LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
PC – Yes, and I hope we will pursue this cooperation.

Interview: Pamela Chrabieh
Image courtesy of Pamela Chrabieh
Interview: Pamela Chrabieh
Image courtesy of Pamela Chrabieh
Interview: Pamela Chrabieh
Image courtesy of Pamela Chrabieh
Interview: Pamela Chrabieh
Image courtesy of Pamela Chrabieh

Source: https://www.itsliquid.com/interview-pamela-chrabieh.html

Ala’ Abou Fakhr, martyr de la révolution, martyr national – article dans l’Orient-le-Jour

Lire l’article complet sur le site de L’Orient-le-Jour

Le meurtre du révolutionnaire Ala’ Abou Fakhr devant son épouse et son fils a ravivé dans ma mémoire le décès de mon beau-père Gebran Badine qui fut assassiné en Irak en 2004. Dans un article que j’avais publié en 2007 dans Scriptura (Université de Montréal), je posais à l’époque les questions suivantes : « Qui est Gebran ? (et donc, qui est Ala’ ?). Vaut-il la peine d’être remémoré ? Sa mort, à l’instar de beaucoup d’autres, compte-t-elle sur l’échiquier national ? »

Depuis des décennies, les meurtres et massacres perpétrés au Liban et dans la région de l’Asie de l’Ouest ne sont plus que des événements relégués aux oubliettes, des concours de circonstances, des accidents faisant partie du lot dit normal de la guerre et des révolutions. En ce sens, la mort de Gebran, de Ala’ et de bien d’autres encore ferait partie de l’ordre des choses, du cycle de la vie et de la mort. Elle ferait partie des tragédies enfouies dans les méandres de l’histoire, jugées par des politiciens, des historiens, des institutions médiatiques et des peuples entiers, inaptes à porter le qualificatif de mal absolu, d’horreur extrême, et donc inaptes à être même pointées du doigt. Or toute guerre constitue un génocide, et tout être humain ayant péri de la folie meurtrière vaut la peine d’être remémoré, pour que justement cesse cette folie.

Au Liban, il est habituellement demandé tant aux enfants qu’aux adultes de ne pas revenir sur le passé, de taire les blessures, de se murer dans un mutisme approbateur de la fatalité du destin, privilégiant la survie sociale et politique à la survie psychique et humaine. La société entière est soumise aux chuchotements et à l’autocensure qui font que la moindre pensée subversive est automatiquement réprimée. Cette omerta, ou loi du silence, est renforcée au niveau national par l’auto-amnistie des leaders de la guerre en 1991. En effet, la loi

n° 84 du 26 août 1991 a voulu voiler le passé récent en accordant une amnistie aux criminels pour tous les actes commis avant le 28 mars 1991. Cette loi fut élaborée en fonction de critères politiques et non des droits de l’homme. Les « seigneurs de la guerre » – expression utilisée en politologie libanaise – ont fait en sorte que leurs crimes soient oubliés. Or suffit-il d’affirmer que le passé n’existe plus en droit pour qu’il cesse d’exister dans la réalité et les consciences, pour que victimes et bourreaux se valent ?

L’oubli n’est qu’une illusion, le temps nous rattrape à grandes enjambées et la souffrance nous descend, même si nous tentons de fuir. « Gare au retour du refoulé ! » avait prévenu un célèbre architecte libanais lors d’une conférence en février 2004 intitulée « Le centre-ville, exploit ou fracture ? ». Comment tourner la page sur des milliers de morts, de blessés, de disparus, de déplacés, de prisonniers, d’émigrés forcés, de destructions, d’horreurs? Comment dépasser la peur qui marque sa présence et la dépression qui suit la fin de l’espoir ? Comment envisager ce qui sera sans tenir compte de ce qui a été ?

« Je désire savoir où sont les choses futures et passées, si l’on peut dire qu’elles sont. Si cette connaissance est au-dessus de moi, au moins je suis assuré qu’en quelque lieu qu’elles soient, elles n’y sont ni futures ni passées, mais présentes, puisque si elles y sont futures, elles n’y sont pas encore, et que si elles y sont passées, elles n’y sont plus. »

Aux interrogations de saint Augustin, dans les Confessions (livre XI, chapitre XVII), répondent certaines certitudes : si l’avenir n’est pas encore et si le passé n’est plus, celui-ci n’est pas sans influencer celui-là. En ce sens, un avenir pacifié ne peut être envisageable si la politique de la tabula rasa relevant de la terre brûlée est adoptée. Celui-ci requiert la reconnaissance de la douleur en la muant en souvenir fondateur qui puisse nous en affranchir, notamment en construisant une mémoire individuelle et collective de la guerre. Dans cette perspective, la parole ou la mise en récit de l’événement traumatique occupent une place centrale dans le processus thérapeutique qui constitue la base du processus de « peacebuilding » – construction de la paix. Donner un espace de parole, d’où l’on peut s’exprimer en toute sécurité et liberté, est indispensable pour passer de la simple reviviscence à la représentation, du souvenir au « ressouvenir » – un terme utilisé par Amin Maalouf et qui signifie une réécriture, un déchiffrage, un dévoilement, un travail de critique et d’autocritique (intériorisation), un projet herméneutique, un travail de deuil, un acte refondateur, une transformation – pour qu’on puisse dire les blessures, leur attribuer un sens, les comprendre et vivre avec.

En ce sens, le principe « œil pour œil, dent pour dent », ou la culture de la vendetta, devrait être remplacé par un processus réparateur impliquant toutes les parties, constituant une manière puissante d’aborder non seulement les préjudices matériels et physiques causés par les crimes, mais aussi les préjudices sociaux, psychologiques et relationnels. Cette démarche est centrée sur la victime, et la communauté et le dialogue en sont les éléments centraux. Le but n’est pas la vengeance, mais que la vérité soit connue et qu’une reconnaissance publique soit officiellement sanctionnée. Les auteurs de crimes de guerre et de tout crime ont beau répéter que personne n’entendra les victimes, que personne ne se soucie d’elles, que personne ne le saura jamais… D’où la nécessité de faire face à ce que le journaliste Lawrence Weschler qualifie d’« instant primordial » : « Qui était là ? Qui criait ? Qui se tenait aux côtés de la victime et que faisaient-ils ? Qui encore maintenant oserait écouter ses cris ? Qui souhaite le savoir ? Qui sera tenu responsable ? Et qui leur en demandera des comptes ? »

Source: https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/1195118/ala-abou-fakhr-martyr-de-la-revolution-martyr-national.html

Standing Together in a World Divided – Bangkok Consultation

My video conference has been screened a few hours ago in Bangkok – Thailand.

STANDING TOGETHER IN A WORLD DIVIDED – Consultation developed by the Presbyterian World Mission and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), (PCUSA).
Bangkok – Thailand, November 1-6, 2019.
My paper will be available in due time (“Christian Responses in Western Asia: Case Studies”).

Full video here.

عن الحوار الإسلامي المسيحي، ذاكرة الحرب وبناء السلام في لبنان

Interested in the subject on Interfaith Dialogue, War Memory and Peacebuilding? This is the full version of my article, and you can have access to the PDF file on Telos’ site: https://www.telosmagazine.org/

Artist Pamela Chrabieh’s “Peace Collection” in Indelible Dubai

I was born and raised in the 1970s-1980s war in Lebanon. My experience as a war survivor has marked my writing and art, as has fueld my quest for peace. As I see it, peace is not only about ceasefires, the end of bloodshed, the absence of hostilities, and a state of mutual concord between governments, as war is both “physical” and “psychological”. Peace is about accountability for violence, openness, generosity, clemency, and catharsis. Peace is and should be a transformation process within mindsets, a celebration of interconnected life and unity in the diversity of complex identities. As long as the legacy of violence is not addressed within ourselves and our societies, we will remain lost, cut off from connection, living in a never-ending apocalypse of carnages and tortured souls and bodies.

Dr. Pamela Chrabieh is a scholar, writer, visual artist, and activist. Author of several books and papers with a 20+ year experience in higher education, communication, content creation, and the arts, she has exhibited her artworks in Canada, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Italy. Previously Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Dubai, she currently owns and manages a Beirut-based company offering expertise in Learning and Communication. 
http://pamelachrabiehblog.com and http://spnc.co

Source: Indelible

دوامة Duwama (Spiral) by Pamela Chrabieh @ Anima Mundi – Itsliquid International Art Festival – Venice 2019

Duwama Collection by Pamela Chrabieh
ANIMA MUNDI FESTIVAL 2019 – VISIONS
ITSLIQUID International Art Festival
Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi, Venice – Italy | October 04 – November 24, 2019

OPENING October 4, 2019 @ 6 p.m.

About Duwama

I was born and raised in the 1970s-1980s war in Lebanon.

War disconnects lives, memories, and experiences by creating endless cycles of violence, murderous identities, and wounded memories.

I have come to believe that these memories are inevitably transmitted from generation to generation in private and public spaces, and that socio-political conviviality and peace need both individual and national healing processes. Or else, the load of traumas that we carry will prevail, fueled by the continuous local and regional crises and State-sponsored amnesia.

Growing up in war left me with a thirst to discover the truth behind the endless years spent in shelters and displacement, the survival techniques I learned, such as how to avoid snipers and land mines, the suffering following the destruction of our houses and the horrific deaths of loved ones, the fascination with war games I used to play, and the hours spent with my parents trying to look for bread.

War has definitely marked my identity, world vision, and visual expression, and it has fueled my pursuit for connections between cultures and religions; the contemporary and the traditional; the physical and the mental; the visible and the invisible; the past, present, and future; the logos (word) and the eikon (image); humanity, the natural and the spiritual… My pursuit for peace…

Contrary to war, peace is the art of connecting. It is a continuous process encompassing historical subjectivities and energies in interpenetrative modes; a process of interacting dynamics, fragmented and common truths, voices, paths, and pathos.

A Duwama (spiral or vortex) is a visualization of this peacebuilding process. It symbolizes life versus death, positive movement towards the manifestation of connections, and therefore, towards forgiveness, healing, and conviviality.

Every Duwama is a story of transformation, from a shattered and disconnected situation, event, emotion or experience, to a connected realm.

Biography

Pamela Chrabieh is a Lebanese & Canadian Doctor in Sciences of Religions, scholar, university professor, visual artist, activist, writer and consultant. She has exhibited her artworks in Canada, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, and has organized and participated in art workshops and art therapy sessions in North America, Europe and the Middle East. She was selected as one of the 100 most influential women in Lebanon in 2013, and won several national and regional prizes in Canada and the United Arab Emirates. https://pamelachrabiehblog.com/

ITSLIQUID GROUP OPENING ANIMA MUNDI INTERNATIONAL ART FESTIVAL VENICE 2019 – Venice Biennale

The Social Life of Memory: Violence, Trauma, and Testimony in Lebanon and Morocco

Saturday, 2nd March 2019 Magazine of the European Observatory on MemoriesISSN 2565-2931 | DL B 27726-2017

Nikro, Norman Saadi; Hegasy, Sonja (Eds.). Palgrave, 2017

By Tsjalling Wierdsma, Master Student on Heritage and Memory Studies, University of Amsterdam. Fellow at EUROM (2018).

The Social Life of Memory: Violence, Trauma, and Testimony in Lebanon and Morocco, edited by Norman Saadi Nikro and Sonja Hegasy, is part of the larger Palgrave Studies in Cultural Heritage and Conflict Series, which focuses on themes such as heritage and memory of war and conflict, contested heritage, and competing memories. Contributors to the book include Joey Ayoub, Pamela Chrabieh, Brahim El Guabli, Ali Hamdan, Norah Karrouche, and Laura Menin. While the book focuses on the specific contexts of Lebanon and Morocco, in this short review I would like to reflect on some broader memory and heritage issues addressed in the book, while still keeping the particular contexts to which they refer and in which they were addressed in mind.

One of the main thematic parameters of the book concerns the interaction between, and “transformation of private memories into publicly shared memories, according to efforts claiming public acknowledgment and public redress” (2-3). Memory, in the process of this exchange, according to the authors of the book, “is acted on as a transformational site, a milieu, whereby social and political engagement takes place, situating memory as a public event” (3).

The book points to an interaction and tension between Nora’s famous concept of memory as lieu, as a memorial or other form of formal commemoration, and memory as the milieu. By addressing memory as milieu the book enables a focus on overlooked processes of memory that otherwise might not be classified as such. An example of this is given in Laura Menin’s chapter, in which she focuses on the process of waiting experienced by the families of victims of political violence that disappeared during the Years of Lead. Instead of viewing waiting as a purely passive process, she instead views it as a “multifaceted temporality that entails both passivity and proactive engagement” (27). Menin describes how waiting in this context is perceived as an additional state-imposed source of pain, trauma, and loss of agency, but simultaneously brings with it novel political subjectivities and specific modes of activism where personal memories of violence are re-socialized, made public, and act towards specific political and transformative goals (27).

Hariri Memorial | Picture: upyernoz, uploaded by Albert Herring [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Chapters such as Ali Nehme Hamdan’s, which focuses on the Hariri mosque in Martyrs Square Beirut as a site of memory, highlight the usefulness of the concept milieu for engaging with the everyday “messy stuff of contention” (146). It further allows for a focus on the simultaneously conflicting and collective cultures of memory, without “assuming the centrality of the nation-state to their production” (146), which is necessary in a context such as Lebanon, but also more generally enables a focus that highlights the multiple actors and the ways in which they engage, negotiate, and create sites and spaces of memory. It allows for an engagement with the “many cultures of memory that coexist at any one time” (147), and not just at the level of the nation-state.

Pamela Chrabieh’s chapter, focusing on the war stories of university students in Lebanon belonging to the 1990’s generation, adds a generational component to these cultures of memory, and problematizes Hirsch’s notion of post-memory, stating that “many memories that were transmitted not only constitute the memories or are part of the ressouvenir processes of the new generations in their own right, but also intermingle with other memories to the point of not having clear boundaries” (189).

Chrabieh employs Rothberg’s concept of multidirectional memory, to enable a generational conception of a malleable discursive space in which groups, their memories, and their positions come into being through dialogical interaction. Similarly, Norah Karrouche’s chapter, detailing how local memories of war and violence in the Northern Riff region of Morocco have shaped the agencies and identities of several generations of Berber activists in both Morocco and its diaspora, shows how newer generations of activists can attempt to inscribe themselves into and simultaneously construct larger mythological and symbolic histories of activism. Like Chrabieh, Karrouche shows how multiple episodes of violence interact. Karrouche further discusses how these histories of activism can act as mythomoteurs, grand narratives about the specificity of a place in history and (trans)-national narratives (232-233). In combination, the two chapters however also highlight the large contextual differences in the generational transmission of memories.

The interaction and the contradictions between the different chapters is one of the book’s largest strengths. Instead of taking away from the individual arguments, these contradictions work to show the many nuances and contradictions attached to institutions, spaces, and milieus of memory, when approached from different levels of analysis and with different focus points.

SOURCE: EUROPEANMEMORIES.NET