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A dazzling party, in which old Arabian B-movies, traditional Arabian singing, and electrobeats play the leading role. L'esprit electro' as the French-Lebanese perfomer Rayess Bek and video artist Randa Mirza affectionately say. An ode to the open-minded Beirut from before the civil war: and a musical and visual plea for lasting cosmopolitanism.
Rayess Bek (1979, Nabatieh, Lebanon) is the name Wael Koudaih operates under. After taking his degree in applied arts at the Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts, he completed his studies in
Paris at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Deco with research on interactivity and a master’s degree at the Université Paris 8, for which he did research in the field of contemporary art and new media. Koudaih started rapping when he was fifteen and started the hip hop group Aks’ser with a friend three years later. He was one of the few at the time to rap not only in French, but already in Arabic as well. He began a solo career in 2002 and went on to become one of the principal Arabic representatives of hip hop and urban music.
He increasingly uses instruments from the Middle East in his music, both in the form of samples and played live, and combines these with electronic percussion. In 2012, he attracted attention with ‘Goodbye Schlöndorff’, an audio-visual performance with clips both from ‘Die Fälschung’, which the German filmmaker filmed in Lebanon, as well as from the making-of of this film. The soundtrack consists largely of cassette mail his family sent him from Lebanon to Paris during the Lebanese civil war. In 2015, he worked with the photographer Randa Mirza for the first time on Love and Revenge, in which they breathe new life into old Arabic popular cinema and music by casting these in a form consistent with production techniques common in modern popular music.
Randa Mirza (1978, Beirut, Lebanon) mainly works with photography and video. She took a bachelor’s degree in visual arts at the Université Paris 8 and a master’s degree in mass communication at the Academie Libanaise des Beaux Arts. Important themes in her work are the devastating civil war in Lebanon from 1975 until 1990 and its consequences; inequality between men and women; the role of women in the Arab world; and the situation in the Middle East. In her work, Mirza challenges the function of images. As much as possible, she uses images from everyday reality as well as nostalgic representations of an idealised Arab past.
‘When you analyse the symbolically, socially, and politically charged visual language in films, you get a sense of the values and norms of the period in which they were made. I primarily focus on how gender and orientalism are depicted. I subvert their meaning by showing how these images came about’. She manipulates these images to bring to light underlying contradictions inherent in all images in the space between reality and fiction. In her performances, she does live photo and video editing. Mirza received various awards for her work, including the gold medal from Jeux de la Francophonie in 2005 and the NO LIMIT award from Les Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles in 2006. In 2013, she was one of the winners of the Maison Blanche award from the Festival de la Photographie Marseille. Her work was shown in the Witte de With and the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien in Karlsruhe.
Podcast maker Stephan Sanders (Haarlem, 1961) is a Dutch writer, journalist, columnist and presenter. He studied Political Science at the University of Amsterdam, worked for a large period as editor of
de Groene Amsterdammer, and lectured at the UvA, the University of Minnesota (USA), the University of Iowa (USA) and the University of Groningen.
Sanders presented radio and television programmes for various broadcasters (VPRO, KRO, Human, NOS/NTR) including Het Blauwe Licht (with Anil Ramdas) and Met het Oog op Morgen. As a columnist he worked for publications such as Vrij Nederland, de Volkskrant, and Trouw. Some of his book titles are: Ai, Jamaica (stories), Buitenwacht (essays) and Iets meer dan een seizoen (memoires).