Friday, January 23, 2015

Cute little puppy.... and you wouldn't believe what happened next

Watch the cute little puppy in the video.... So heartbreaking!!! Share it LOL!!!!!!!!!
Now that I have your attention no wonder serious issues such as domestic violence get such a low viewership because everyone else is busy being interested in cute little puppies. Brilliant work to raise awareness about with regards to their issues.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mimmo Jodice in Proustian voyages at the Byblos headquarters

Yesterday, the Photomed festival was kickstarted in grand form at the Byblos Bank headquarters in Achrafieh with the Mimmo Jodice exhibition "Mediteraneo" as part of their Purple Lens initiative. This being the first Lebanese exhibition of the world-renowned photographer, the wait was worth it with 62 works being displayed making the event closer to a retrospective than a mere showing (hats off to Nada, Rouba, Karim and in extenso Geoana for orchestrating this).
Despite the large turn out on such a night, the works were prominently displayed allowing closer inspection, and I am sorry my amateurish photos above do not do justice to the originals. The mood is somber and heavy throughout the exhibition, the black and white editions make it even more palpable, and despite the different periods during which these works were taken (a work dating back to 1993 cohabitates with one taken in 2008 right next to it), the continuity of the thread is evident and - unless pointed out - one would never feel an "evolution" in the work from year to year, for the same idea of "damage" and "ruin" is pursued diligently throughout.
Maybe the works resonated so deeply because this is what Beirut is these days, a bad preservation of the old with little anticipation to the new, with war-scarred buildings a stone throw from the upscale fancier digs being constructed. Maybe it s us, as a Lebanese public, trying to deal with personal and collective pasts and embellishing them even more as we deal with incomprehensible presents and uncertain futures.
One could theorize forever about the blink-and-you-already-missed-it feel that emanates from the Jodice works. The artist, present and being shuttled from one reporter to the next, eventually was kind to give me some of his (and his interpreter's) time. The moment was kindly captured by previous Purple Lens winner Ghaleb Cabbabe.
Photo credit Ghaleb Cabbabe
My first reflection was to ask the artist about the sense of "drama" and "macabre" in the works, he replied (again these being interpreted thoughts I will try to frame them the best way I can) that the photos did not have such qualities in them and that such descriptive was my own projection on them.
Toning down my rhetoric I asked about a sense of "nostalgia" or "unease", apparently I had hit the right dosage, and Jodice agreed there was "tension" in the works and that this is how he sees such places or "subjects" and he pursues the "feel". Is there a narrative there I wonder? Yes, he agrees, but it is about him and the places and the "moment" itself.
Suggesting, as Heraclites once said that one never bathes in the same water twice, Jodice admits that the photo of the same place is not the same since the conditions changed - time of day, lighting, weather and above all himself. Even if the place is immutable, the result will vary depending on all those shifting parameters. The "voyage" - very untouristic in nature - is the one that guides him he goes on.
My parting shot was to ask of the memory, forever fleeting and yet always trying to be recaptured, the most visible example of which is Marcel Proust's work, there were no words back from Jodice but the immense grandfatherly smile which he gave - even before the question was interpreted - was the sweetest confirmation of my theory.
Whereas Byblos Bank did not serve any proverbial madeleine among the pastries, as I was about to leave the building, my mind played enough tricks on me to have felt its taste in my mouth, and somewhere my nose caught a whiff of incense coming from the pseudo-religious relics I had just seen.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel, 1993 hasbara version

Following the conundrum in which Miss Lebanon Sally Greige found herself for (depending on which version you believe) having her selfie photobombed by Miss Israel or alternatively taking a full fledged photo with her, I was reminded of the same incident in  the Miss World1993 when Ghada al Turk took a photo with then Miss Israel Tamara Porat. At the time, there was no social media and the concept of selfie did not exist (though the concept of Hasbara or how Israel uses legions of PR to whitewash its image did, in this do read the excellent article by Thoughts of the Young Arab Adult on this). Miss El Turk was stripped of her title back then.

Mimmo Jodice at the Byblos Bank Headquarters

So Byblos Bank does it again, this time bringing the Mimmo Jodice photography exhibition at Byblos Bank Headquarters in Ashrafieh. “Mediterraneo” is the first solo exhibition of this world-renowned artistic photographer in Lebanon and is the official launch event of the PhotoMed Beyrouth photography festival which will take place in Beirut from January 21 to February 11, 2015. Byblos Bank has a dedicated program for photography called "Purple Lens" and this event is but one of its initiatives.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Faten Hamama, a bitter day

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

Faten Hamama, dubbed "sayyidat al chacha al Arabiya" (the grande dame of the Arabic screen) is no more. In reference to one of her popular movies "yawm murr, yawm helou" (a bitter day, a sweet day) the above work says.... A bitter day.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Margiela AIDS t-shirt (now mine!)

Anyone noticed that I rarely blog on anything fashion-related and if I even mention fashion it is most of the time related to Margiela (here and here), and now I am the proud owner of a limited edition Margiela AIDS t-shirt (which is celebrating its 20th year of existence). The t-shirt is considered part of the "artisanal' Margiela collection or the equivalent of couture for the rest of the brands. The charity AIDS T-shirt has been present in all Maison Martin Margiela collections since Fall/Winter 1993, each season in a different color. Over the years it has been helping bring a contribution to the French association ‘AIDES’ since a portion of its sales go to it.
The T-shirt says "there is more action to be done to fight AIDS than to wear this T-shirt but it's a good start," but since the printing is done manually, every garment is different than the other. The one I managed to grab my hands on is printed in the above manner, meaning with some text running in reverse on the bottom part of the back.
Here s the full label that comes with the shirt:
(the "made in Italy does not always apply, mine was made in Albania). 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Nutella, religious balance and "6 w 6 mkarrar"

Photo credit: Rania El Khatib
For those who do not know the law that governs religious balance in Lebanon is known as"6 w 6 mkarrar" - meaning 6 and 6 repeated and was initiated during the French mandate whereby 6 representatives would be chosen for the Christians and then 6 for the Moslems and so on... Not only did Nutella prove to be a bad case of "me too" following the success of the Coca-Cola can branding, but now in their billboards they segregated the names of the customized jars of Nutella - on one billboard purely Christian names (Rita, Tony, Charbel - all of them saints) and on the other 3 Moslem names (Sarah, Hassan Ahmad). Dear Nutella, when in a hole, stop digging!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#shareanutellasawa or #nutellanewname?

After the massive hit that #shareacokesawa was (I know a taxi driver who was paid super handsomely to transport a can from Baabda to Jal el Dib!) which allowed customers to customize their own coke and with whom they wanted to share it.. Now comes #Nutellanewname which... Bummer! Allows people to put their own name on the jar! So basically, the term "me too" has been invented for this campaign which instead of spreading the hashtag #nutellanewname should be #shareanutellasawa.

Phenomena Jordan (2011) vs Phenomena Lebanon (2013)

Hmmmm, created in Jordan in 2011 Phenomena communications has nothing to do with Phenomena creative consultancy which saw the light in 2013 in Lebanon. It could be a coincidence (no laughing), or a case of bad research, or outright "inspiration" (code word for copycat), or outright theft (it has happened before - the person behind Phenomena in Lebanon stole the same Nina Ricci ad twice)....

Is Yalla 3a2belkon a new model for Lebanese movie production?

Yesterday was the avant-premiere of Yalla 3a2belkon, a movie written and produced by Nibal Arakji and directed by Elie Khalife. I cannot comment on the movie for ethical reasons since I was part of its team, but if I am talking about it today it is because the movie fast-tracked into production merely a couple of weeks when the scenario was wrapped. Knowing how everyone bitches and sighs about the lack of funding and production, the fact that the movie got done so quickly is nothing but a tour de force.
But Nibal Arakji is nothing if not a master seller! Seeing the movie as a communication professional left me in awe at the way she managed to get a movie done pronto! Her technique was so deceptively simple - instead of going the usual way, she included all kinds of product placements inside the movie, one of the leads drives a Mini and many external shots focus on that, another one opens her fridge and the shot lingers for several seconds too long on Kiri spread cheese, a couple goes to the movies and indeed the scene is shot in Cinema City (where the movie premiered and will show starting the 15th).
Naturally, product placement is an old technique, but having it used to get a movie done in Lebanon instead of moaning that there are no production budgets could point the way towards future films. Yalla 3a2belkon (may you be next) in doing movies with brands in them!