Skip to main content

IGAF: The return of — a meta post.

Caramblogage is a strange beast that has found its way back to its roots in some fashion.

When we started out, sometime around 2004, I was fresh out of English Lit, a freshman in graphic design. At the time, a place was needed to put down words on screen, no matter who would read them. So, this was the place to put them. An irregular series called Is Goodness a Fashion documented random thoughts on technology, advertising, society and, in it's fourth installment, ecology.

The aim was to explore, mostly for myself, current topics I felt I should know a thing or two about. At the time, mostly due to age, I felt that I knew enough about anything to write at length and in detail, about everything.

Now, due maybe some maturity acquired in the process of aging, I try and research what I write about before I write it. That explains the current nature of this beast: research is hard and time-consuming work. So in stead of researching an entirely new topic every few weeks, I made a decision that would affect the blog and the content posted on it for a while: I would post stuff that I was doing here. You've seen the sketches, the books and the films, the aborted project fetuses and the occasional poster or font.

In other words, this became the blog that documented the work of the guy behind it, offering little opinion and much exposition of projects that mean the world to me while I make them. They still do.

This year has been full of change, both personal and global, starting out with the Egyptian revolution and not ending. The most recent events that have global impact I can think of are the death of Steve Jobs, the occupy movement and Muammar Kathafi being shot in his hole. And ongoing, of course, as events unfold.

One personal change this year brought for me is a cause. Which sounds strange as I write it, but is the closest I can come to describing a series of realisations that bring me where I am now. With the Egyptian revolution, I was forced to re-examine my long-held position that one man cannot change the world, that passivity, though generally more pleasant, was no longer an option. In the words of Amelie Poulain, I decided "de me meler des affaires des autres".

Earlier posts may have given some indication of what was to come. So yes, a graphic designer in times of revolt can be useful in his own way, especially when they stick to what they know and design pretty flyers for demos, right? Or turns his attention to street art.

Maybe, but not this one.

Palästinah, that project I have been going on about for a while (and will continue to do until it's over), proved something I had my suspicions about: Put together brilliant people with good ideas in a room and something great will come out of it.

Look at the website in it's current state and compare that to what it had been at the outset – a photo exhibition in the atrium of a theatre – to what it has matured to in a few short weeks, an event with theatre, dance, readings and film, not to mention it's own, gorgeous trailer, shot and edited by Selim Harbi as part of a series of interviews with Palestinian kids living in Berlin.

All this is not a testament to perfect planning (useful) , good contacts (they help) or even hard work (it is). Rather, I like to think of this as the first step on a journey that started with a simple idea. Then we ran with it, each bringing our specific talents and personality to this project. Out of this and a few happy coincidences became what is going to happen in November.

At the same time, other things are beginning to happen, testament to the endurance and patience of those involved, knowingly or unknowingly, in future projects. It also says a lot about the passion and a new courage to express yourself, and give others a platform for expression when it counts, that is felt by many in Germany, no matter where their roots lie.

To name a few now: A second installment of Freisprechanlage, which Sara Duana Meyer is planning as we speak. Palästinah MKII (as I call it), a slightly expanded version of the programme on now. Voices from the Revolution by Heba Amin, currently one of my favourite people due to her keen understanding of processes that happen in a head when you combine sounds and pictures in space (entre autres). And a few other things I have to keep under wraps for now, but that should materialise sooner than expected.

What unites most of these projects is the format. They seek not to display, but to explore and, in the process, lead the viewer to a new understanding of the situation and people in countries not close to  home through arts, culture and direct engagement with the subject matter.

They aim to create a context for pictures you see in the news, for processes that have repercussions far from their epicentre, as proven by the Occupy movement, which is inspired, I believe, in part, by what is happening in Tunis, Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, Libya and Syria – but that is another post, and one for another day.

They also aim to make the Arab world, or the worlds of Arabs, more accessible to European audiences, familiar with the broad strokes of life in the Bilad (countries), but not with the individuals or groups that make up that life. Any country is its own experience.

Speaking of which, I was recently in Hamburg with OMRAS to attend a workshop organised by the Yalla Initiative,  a  network of people interested in supporting the Arab Spring (or whatever you wanna call it) from Germany. We now have plans too. Put brilliant people in a room…

Which brings us neatly back to IGAF. You may have noticed a marked change in content since the beginning of the year.

More to come.


Popular posts from this blog

IGAF: Lying on Camera // Astounding Armaments

Nizar Qabbani wrote his epic poem "When Will They Announce the Death of Arabs" in 1994.

He was living in London at the time, far from his native Syria, watching the world he had grown up in and represented as a diplomat from afar. America had launched operation Desert Storm- a storm that lasts to this day- two years prior, and marked 1993 with the launch of 23 cruise missiles on Iraq. Qabbani will die of a heart attack in 1998.

In 18 stanzas, he explores the wishes and dreams he once carried, describes, however tribes and nations at war, that believe that secret services (like a cold, or a headache) are part of some heavenly order. He bemoans that the idea of the "Arab Nation" (possibly derived from the Pan-Arabist ideology that was crystallised during the Nasser years) has never come into being. He has been trying to draw a picture all his life, but his crayons have been taken away. He has watched wars- on TV, he has tried to imagine the idea of a peaceful Arab unio…

In Taheyya we Trust - How an Egyptian bellydancer found her posthumous stage in Berlin

“You should have winked at her,” Aida said dismissively, as if such a possibility had been imaginable for someone as timid as I was. Tahia Carioca was the most stunning and long-lived of the Arab world’s Eastern dancers (belly-dancers, as they are called today).
Edward Said, Farewell to Taheyya

My story with Taheyya begins in the summer of 2016, at Bulbuls Caféin Görlitzer Str. in Berlin. It ends two blocks down on Wiener Str 17. 

Bulbuls is a café and art space around my corner that I have grown to like to sit in and drink smoothies (1). He had commissiond us- a crew of Syrian and Egyptian artists, as well as myself, to paint the walls inside the café. El Tenneen (the Dragon) is the one who ended up drawing Sheikh Imam, with the help of Salam Alhassan (known as Salahef/ Turtles) and Sulafa Hijazis (whom we call El Hayya/The Snake’s) beamers’ illumination. The Sheikh sits happily in the place to this day and Crew El-Zoo was born.

Tenneen had the advantage of knowing immediately what he wa…

Two minutes: Addiction is Life is Yellow.

Addiction is a much-maligned, muddy word. Until (ca.) the 18th century, it connoted tendency and drive, rather than (self-) affliction. Opium changed that- reportedly. 
Lives described as addiction: to the approval and company of peers, to power and its accumulation, to enjoyment and personal satisfaction (to some people, this may be suffering) and to basics such as air, food, water… and possibly even living. When framed this way, and defined in reference to this word, life suddenly becomes a selfish pursuit in which the living will do anything to get their fix, devoted addicts all. 
On that note: Marylin Manson - I Don't Like the Drugs, But the Drugs Like Me. 
Also: Addiction is apparently yellow.