Photos by Maria Kassab
Costume by Rayya Kazoun
PERFORMING AGAINST THE NORMALIZATION OF DEATH IN LEBANON.
On Sunday, January 12, 2014, Rayya Kazoun - Fashion designer - strapped my chest with a big, fake red TNT vest. Unlike previous performances - the intervention was based on a need to act, protest, and open a conversation about a certain anxiety and fear, caused by suicide car bombings, the war in Syria, the Lebanese bad economy, electricity and water cut-offs, traffic, domestic violence and killing, and other lebanese crisis.
For six hours I walked through different places in Beirut, took coffee, Hookah and drinks in fancy cafes and pubs. For six hours I walked by the habitual Ein Elmrayseh corniche , stood, felt scared, felt courageous, was mocked at, harassed by some men, sniffed by a dog, and not allowed to enter in some private elitist shopping malls. Reacting to the then two recent car-bombings in Beirut, my motivation to do the intervention was largely connected to the anxiety and fear of stillness that I arrived to. The intervention is an attempt in mapping the quotidian urban environment, hearing other people’s reactions and responses in relation to suicide bombing. Two bombs, one in downtown Beirut and the other in in the Dahiyeh neighborhood that killed a total of ten and injured 136 is in fact the worst spurt of violence since the Lebanese Civil War, leaving people shocked or totally indifferent to death.
During the intervention local press started writing about Madame Bomba: the TNT project. For the following three weeks, I received hate letters - considering the intervention a scandal, and general bad taste - others wrote sending admiration letters - considering the intervention as courageous. With messages from strangers, and while receiving endless calls from local, regional and international press writing stories about ‘Madame Bomba’.
This intervention would of not been possible without the help and the support of Sandy Chamoun, Roy Dib, Ahmad Najdi, Dana Dia & Rayya El Zein.