Dial 911 for the new middle east

Presented in 2011 at The Running Horse Contemporary Art Space in Beirut

To hold an exhibition in Beirut in 2011 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 held specific resonance and signification. The Arab Spring was already in full swing and the world was holding its breath as these unthinkable changes were happening in a region that had been dominated by tyrannical regimes for decades. Was there a link between the collapse of the twin towers and these changes? Through a whimsical approach and pop art appropriations I tried dealing with this rapidly shifting situation, a prelude perhaps for greater disasters to come.

 

Growing up in Lebanon amidst a raging civil war I recollect being constantly exposed to various historical readings that are often labeled as conspiracies. To understand what was currently unfolding all one had to do was to find a possible or impossible link between events and draw them together through one of these hazardous readings. In Lebanon throughout the war the main common denominator of all the warring parties is that they were all fighting a greater conspiracy aimed at their utter annihilation.

One of the recurrent names that would pop up through what could seem as historical fantasies was the name of Henry Kissinger. In 1975 talking about the turmoil the world was going through, Kissinger said that it was an opportunity “to form for the first time in History a truly global society carried up by the principle of interdependence and if we act wisely and with vision we could look back to all this turmoil as the birth pangs of a more creative and better system”. Landing in Beirut in the middle of the 2006 war opposing Israel to Hezbollah, Condoleza Rice used this exact term saying that we were witnessing the birth pangs of a new Middle East. More than a thousand Lebanese civilians had been killed at that stage, but pushing Israel to accept a cease-fire she suggested, would not help, because it would simply reestablish the status quo, it would simply not help create a new Middle East. Dial 911 For The New Middle East was hence an effort to weave through the demonstrations and wars that were rapidly reshaping our world, finding the odd links and the common thread linking the fall of the towers to the birth of new regimes across the Arab world.