curated by Christine Tohme (LB)

Roy Samaha, Rabih Mroué, Ali Kays, and Lina Saneh.

When I first received an invitation from NOMAD to curate a video programme for Conscious in Coma, I felt that I would be expected to present videos dealing with the current crisis in Lebanon. But I decided not to limit myself to that. The wars in Lebanon are like a necklace of beads that have different shapes and colors. We are now experiencing another war but it is all the same war. We are just living different variations of it. It never stopped. It never stops. It feels as if it is embedded in our lives, at points dormant, at others destructively active. It’s as if we are living in a volcano in this region, and every now and then it has to erupt in order for us to live again.

Most of the videos I am presenting were made before the onset of the current crisis, but they are never far from it.

Artist(s): Roy Samaha
Title: Video for the end of time
Country of production: Lebanon
Year of Production: 2006

“Between three and four in the morning, the awakening of birds, a solo blackbird or nightingale improvises, surrounded by a shimmer of sound, by a halo of trills lost very high in the trees. A long phrase on the cello, infinitely slow, magnifies with love and reverence the eternity of this powerful and gentle word, “which the years can never efface”. Clarinet solo. The abyss is time, with its sorrows and its weariness. The birds are the opposite of time. They are our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows and joyful songs!”

(Quartet for the end of time, Olivier Messiaen, liner notes)

I know nothing has ever lasted but the gaze into which it all burns. I know nothing has ever escaped the burning.
Artist(s): Rabih Mroué
Title: Face A / Face B
Country of production: Lebanon
Year of Production: 2002

In 1978, my brother Manuel, who had just arrived from Cuba, wrote lyrics to a song, and synchronized them to a Russian tune. We sang it and sang it till we memorized it, recorded it and sent the audiotape to my brother Abou Salam living at the USSR at that time.

Swearing by fire, bullets and iron,
Swearing by the last breath of the martyr,
Swearing by Lina, Leila and Nabil,
Swearing by the glorious Land of the South,
“They will never pass”, said the martyr.
In case I was shot in my right arm
I still have the left one as strong as iron.
And if my left arm is shot too, fellow comrade
I still have teeth as sharp as flint
We will fight with our finger nails and teeth.
Artist(s): Ali Kays
Title: Nothing Matters
Country of production: Lebanon
Year of Production: 2005

Mohammad abandons his passion for music, his sisters, his friends Helmi and Tawfic, architecture school, and later Mary, his first love. He leaves everything behind, moved by an obsession with the idea that his social duty is to be politically active.
Artist(s): Lina Saneh
Title: I Had a Dream, Mom…
Country of production: Lebanon
Year of Production: 2006

Robert Abirached has often told me that it is in the effervescence of the irrational, caught at the most intimate point of individual experience, that one must perhaps seek an alternative humanism, that is, a possible basis for a different order.

One day, one night, rather, I have a dream; I tell it to my mother; she understands. She throws the ball back into my court; I fail to catch it...