The Another Memory exhibit inspired two great blogposts.
Erin Cory wrote: “
We slipped through a door set in a spectacularly graffitied wall and into a spacious “hangar.” There were large white plastic sheets stretched between metal poles in a sort of maze. once we found the beginning of it, we were greeted by a young woman who was apparently one of the people in charge of the event. she volunteered another, Noubar to take us around and explain the event. as it turns out, poor Noubar had quite a larger job ahead of him, as all the newspapers on display were in Arabic. The exhibition was set up in this way: important events over the course of lebanon’s 15-year civil war had been selected and the front pages of two very different news papers (As-Safir and An-Nahr, the former which has traditionally been pro-Palestinian and pro-pan Arab, the latter when has been associated with the Kitaeb (right) party and more aligned with the interests of Maronite Christians… Apparently these associations still generally hold true today) had been blown up and placed side by side underneath the date of each event. no “objective” explanations of these events were included, which was fitting, considering that a) Lebanese at the time were getting their info from these newspapers, in this way, and b) the war has long been the central lacuna of Lebanese history and identity – the Lebanese have been institutionally bereft of an understanding of the war; there has been no narrative that has accommodated all sides. I’m not sure anyone is totally convinced that such a narrative could be created.” Noubar patiently explained what each newspaper said. around each dual-display, people had begun placing post-it notes with their reactions to and/or memories of each incident/account. on saturday, there weren’t too many, but some of the ones we saw were striking. Noubar translated some of the notes written Arabic (many were written in French or English, so we could read them). One of the most harrowing/moving was one posted near the An-Nahr issue from 19 Sept. 1982, just after the Sabra & Chatila massacre, wherein the Israeli forces guarded the camp as Kataeb forces went in an killed between 762 and 3,500 (it’s telling that the number is disputed) Palestinian men, women, and children. One of the photos shows the small body of a child laying prone amidst the rubble left in the wake of the violence. Noubar told us that the photographer who took the photo had visited the exhibition, and had taken a photograph of the facsimile of his photograph. He posted a note in arabic. someone translated it into english below: “This photographer remembers standing on bodies to take this photo. He remembers the smell. He remembers seeing women, children, horses with their throats slit.”
Isaline and I were introduced to Ayman, one of the leaders of Tajaddod Youth, the youth segment of a larger inter-sectarian political party, at some point during our nearly two-hour tour with Nabour. Ayman is articulate, and apparently is skyrocketing within the party. At the end of our visit, i approached him to ask for an interview. He agreed. Win!
I also met Mona, a dane of palestinian origins. she is lovely, funny, and smart, and had some interesting things to say about being a person of color in denmark. Generally, she says, it’s okay and she loves the country. It can be hard, though, not seeing many people like herself amongst her mentors and professors at the university.
In a rare display of boldness the interactive exhibition “Another Memory” did precisely that: To allow the private and the public spheres of Lebanese society to overlap at the level of memory, confronting the public with narratives about the war other than their own. Certain key dates of the civil war were selected from the newspapers An-Nahar and As-Safir and reprinted in large displays. The public interacted with the exhibit adding their notes footnotes to the articles in post-it notes and bringing together a wide variety of opinions and reactions to certain events of the war. The exhibit, organized by Lebanon’s Tajaddod (Democratic Renewal Movement) Youth in cooperation with Danish Radikal Ungden (Social Liberal Youth) was conceived under the assumption of what Haugbolle so clearly articulated in his book, albeit closer home: “We believe that for real reconciliation to take place one has to be confronted with other narratives of the war than one’s own. In Lebanon the narratives are passed down by family and community and, particularly with young people who didn’t live the war themselves, are limited to one inherited version of events. Our hope is that knowing and trying to understand each other’s perspective on the past is the first step of working together on creating a common future.”