Monday, 14 September 2009

1W1 Presenting myself and my proposal

My name is Maya Chami, I am graphic designer working in the field since 2002. Other than the market’s work, I have been working independently on graphic interventions in a Lebanese newspaper, an initiative that intended to provide graphic designers with a space to get involved in the public sphere through an idea with social or political dimensions. This graphic intervention became a statement, a weekly narration of political, social and even poetic thought – presented graphically.
After some years of work, with a focus on various aspects of design for print media, I have reached a stage where I am seeking a further education to enhance my capabilities as a designer in the digital moving image and the digital arts field, and this is why I opted for The MA in Digital Arts Online at Camberwell College of Arts.
Recently I have worked on a stop-motion short in order to experiment with the relative technique; it’s a story that I have written that recounts the incidents that my uncle encountered the night of his death. This project was entitled playground 1956-1994, portraying in a way Beirut the battleground that he used as a recreational area.
It is has been a while now that I started to realize that I love storytelling and could easily use it as visual material. I recollect stories that I remember and link them with concepts that, just now, I am becoming aware of. I don’t have great communication skills though, which makes my storytelling experiences a little bit unusual, for me at least. I am intending to research non-linear narratives, it could help me discover some pathway.
Being from the Middle East, I am involved in the social political economical or not? I still have not decided, I am still researching and resisting this idea. But living in Beirut is definitely what molded my character. I am a city person, cannot stand being in nature for more than three hours. Beirut is a sea city (on the Mediterranean), sunny most of the time, I don’t consider the sea as nature; it is mainly the trees and its insects that get on my nerves.
The project proposal that I am wishing to work on is based on an incident. I was 4 years old when the war in Beirut started, so school was dismissed early this year and we escaped to the village for an early summer vacation in the middle of February. Our village in the south was very boring, so the main source of entertainment was to watch the plants grow and the flowers blossom. My mother’s efforts to entertain us including one day an outing to watch a football game in the only playing field in the village; Once we reached the football field, one of the football players kicks the ball and the ball hits me squarely in my face. As my nose starts bleeding my mother takes me into her lap and places my head on her shoulder. That day, my nose bled so much it ruined the removable collar of my mother’s brown-checkered dress she had bought from ‘Carel’. It was a sparkling day. The crisp colors of the green grass and the red blood still shine in my mind whenever I reconstruct the accident in my memory. After the incident, my mother’s dress lost its sublime quality as the blood stains on the collar couldn’t be removed; and the dress without its collar no longer held any of its original appeal. It was its raison d’être, the only indicator of its Bauhaus connotation. I kept seeing the dress left lying around somewhere in her bedroom. Every effort had been made to remove the stains; but unfortunately, nothing could solve this glitch. ‘Carel’ is a fancy boutique in Beirut, targeting mainly upper middle class and the high-class society. This is where she used to buy all her wardrobe as far as I remember.
Years later, when I was to turn 17, my mother finally declared that she was no longer able to buy any more items for her wardrobe from ‘Carel’. It was then that I realized the economic situation of my family was no longer as it was during wartime.
Fourteen years later, the accident of the football hitting my face, the nose bleed, its consequences and my mother’s subsequent declaration would become like a wake-up call for me. I would question its implications. It was so connected.
I began deciphering the elements of my story. I thought about the strike of the football, the blood as a form of art, the reconstruction of the scene in my memory with the crispness of its colors, football practice, the implications of identity and nationalism in a game, my mother’s brown-checkered dress and our financial situation pre and post war. I revisited the Bauhaus sensibility, the bread and circuses phenomena, sports in general, and the case study of Lebanon, in specific, with its public and the excitement, slogans and chants of Lebanese sports teams, the inherent sectarian and regional distribution of these teams, the representation and the aftermath of football…
It was no accident or mere coincidence that my mother’s inability to buy her wardrobe from ‘Carel’ was declared at the same period some leaders in Lebanon were buying football teams and encouraging youth to focus their attention to sports in the country. In post war Beirut, we can actually discuss the economy of football, neo-liberalism, and investments in similar institutions rather than in cultural projects. The new economy of Beirut of the 90s, based on a credit system, was cutting its way into the shadow of football practice consumption and the consumption of football teams. Inflation was the post war fact; nevertheless Beirut had become a potential ‘winning’ project, or at least this is what the leaders wanted people to have faith in… the mere existence of the country on the map was a victory; debt was not an issue; one should keep the game going.
In my research I will be discussing the illusion big football games provide to society’s masses, the ‘apology for physical force’ and the ‘socially permitted aggression’, reclaiming symbols of the republic including flags and national anthems, delirious crowds, intellectuals glued to their television screens, and the public literally colonized by magical passes. I will also be examining the relation between public and the screen, the clinical decipherment of a player’s arbitrary decision, the abandonment of the screen at the moment of victory when a game ends, the viewer that becomes a member of a nationalist crowd...

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