Published by Postmedia books editions.
Italy 2022 - essays in Italian and English - format 230x169mm - 240 pages. 70 ill. color.

ARKAD, a project by Dimora OZ, curated by Lori Adragna, Gandolfo Gabriele David and Andrea Kantos, graphics by Analogique.

Publication created thanks to the support of the Italian Council (7 edition, 2019). #MIBAC



In March 2015, at the peak of a migration new wave in Greece combined with its years of austerity and memorandums, I presented my first version of LET US STOP AND WEEP at the laboratory ORIGINI by Dimora OZ. That was a starting point of a long term evolution of that body of work.
The title of the project is inspired by the works and life of Imru'l Qais, a pre-Islamic Arab poet who sang the ruins of his abandoned ‘home’, devastated by tribal conflicts. The project is therefore the creation of a reflective and parallel process, through which I narrated, back then in Palermo, the Greek Crisis with an installation that portrayed another denied city, shocked and transcended; Athens.
Since 2013 I was a member and co-founder of the art collective Depression Era. Parts of this body of work were also presented on different occasions, among which, the Thessaloniki Biennale 05 in Greece (2015), Museo Riso (2016), Culturescapes Basel in Switzerland (2018) and Slought, Philadelphia in the USA (2019). This body of work reworks the poetics of return, in a series of pieces and narrations suspended between affirmation of a mutating identity and search thereof. It is also a meditation on origins.
As a Greek-Lebanese lens based artist and filmmaker who has lived in Beit Mery, Larnaca, Athens, Paris, Palermo and Cairo, I recounted the experience (denied) during the Lebanese civil war, reconstructing fragments of reality through narratives and imaginative glimpses of ‘home’, reinterpreting materials, objects and family stories and placing them at the core of what was devastating my other adoptive origin and beloved city of Athens. Along the way, with new chapters and pieces that where added throughout the years, I told other stories and tales. The form of presenting this work has slowly evolved into a narrative-based participatory performance and installation.
In 2017 I found myself back in Athens for a fourth time. My eyes became gradually those of an urban 'geologist', but my gaze was still erratic: I roamed again my city Athens as if self-exiled.
Sedimentations of songs, stories, myths, migrations & longings left a trace behind my path, some visible and some hidden. The new stories that emerged were framed by an idiosyncratic experience of the notion of sedimentation, both in the physical and metaphysical sense. They were formed out of archives, documents, reconstructions, gestures, peripatetic experiences and a sense of listening, all took the viewer on a poetic meander, through creative comparison of reality, languages and narrations.

My relationship to Athens had evolved through the years into an impermanent place of Return. It became an attempt to visit a fictional homeland, an ephemeral past existence, instant projections of a worn nostalgia, and the death of a precarious chronology of History, dedicated today to singing the ruins of belonging, in a time of war.

I had the chance to visit Palermo in February 2019 and present once again LET US STOP AND WEEP in a display at Eglise, just a few days before the pandemic’s lock-down. That one off presentation was trying to draw some connections with my Mediterranean trails and travels. I tried to enhance some elements that were rescued out of the Treasure Island's box called 'childhood' and recovered others that seemed to be lost forever.

Since the beginning of my journey, in 1998, I have created videos & photographic installations, directed documentaries, experimental and essay films, all anchored in the Mediterranean sea. I also harbored some objects and items, 'survivors' from my own and other relatives' migrations in the Mediterranean and beyond. They became the only witnesses to my narrative footprints.
In parallel to my own perambulation, a fresh urban narration through new works, new spaces and projects, had emerged around Athens in the last few years. On a personal and poetic dimension, I shifted towards an inspection of my city and its cultural scene and its identity in flux. The Athens I returned to in 2017, had evolved and transformed radically. My arrival coincided with two major events Documenta 14 and the intensification of the program “Fortress Europe”. I came to realise that much had changed since I first came to Greece, as a migrant in 1989 from the civil war in Lebanon, but in the last few years something started to emerge into my gaze on Athens: From a marginal European city, in the beginning of the 1990’s, Athens has now morphed into a pole of attraction to many.
Newcomers from Europe and different corners of the world, including the new migration wave enriched and mutated the cultural fabric of the city. I wander if Athens succeeds to keep them and make them flourish here, we can definitely start talking about the promise of an emerging cosmopolitan and multicultural city!

For someone who through his life and family history is standing before the ruins of the cities of cosmopolitanism and their heritage like Izmir, Beirut, Haifa, Alexandria, Tangiers, Marseilles, … I realize today that the body of work LET US STOP AND WEEP, has become on one hand an opportunity to narrate personal traumascapes* and the desire to deepen and overcome them too, and on the other hand the body of work itself has merged with a new language of aestetics, starting from that same storytelling process, but creating new Conn(e/a)ctions and bridges between timelines and future

LET US STOP AND WEEP seems to have returned to its original aim. It morphed from an inspection into the realm of one cultural landscape in ruins, born out of post-austerity shock-waves combined with a more recent history of a forced globalization and never ending conflicts around the basin of the Mediterranean and beyond. Subsequently, The ARKAD device was initially an attempt to activate in one exchange of artistic productions and reflections on our era, our south European heritage and became a deep dive into the sea of the pandemic era.

*Traumascapes are sites associated with the painful past. Remembering and representing this bitter past plays a crucial role in shaping the future through learning and experiencing.

Athens 12-12-2021
Georges Salameh