Tandem 360°: “Each act is new, even the repeated act”

If you are expecting to read about a collaboration project, am sorry to tell you that this essay is not meant to promote any project or personal purposes. You will have the chance to look at it in the collaborations page.

My participation in Tandem 360° came out after the harsh period Lebanon was and still facing, since the beginning of the socio economical political crises, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, where I found myself literally in the middle of nothing, suspended. And as we at Minwal were going through a major transformation to dive into performance art more than theatre in its expected form, we found ourselves ready to handle it more seriously after almost one year of being suspended, in a city where the symbolic and power of Beirut is shrinking because its consecutive crises that the causes where obvious for us as a community and the world opinion. So after all we felt in the middle of nowhere resisting, struggling and fighting the ignorance.

The main question was how the virtual space and the cultural work can be reshaped together in a manner appropriate to this global moment we are facing? I was extremely sure that there are many lessons to learn and a new knowledge created somewhere.
Tandem 360° helped in making this happens. The program meant to be implemented physically but, as we are reaching the end of it, I am writing this essay in parallel with finalizing the work on the final reports and unfortunately I have never met the Tandem team and the participants in person. It was all online and it worked perfectly.

My placement was during August 2021, where the crisis in Lebanon left the country with no electricity, fuel, and even medications.

It is good to be on a mission.

Visiting Alexandria- Egypt, during this time and exchanging with Emad Mabrouk, my tandem, was my first travel after two years of trying to acknowledge the tragedy. Alexandria and its people were a relief. Emad introduced me to the vibrant cultural and artistic scene there, I made new friends and shared many potential future collaborations.

Now, allow me to say that it is hard to be on a mission.

Beside the cultural exchange that happened, I was running from pharmacy to another asking for medications for friends and family. A year after the Beirut blast, subsidy cuts compound Lebanon’s desperation and the Lebanese health care racked by medicine shortage. I can also tell that I became friends with pharmacists in Alexandria! If there was not Tandem, and was not placement, the problem could be denser, and I couldn’t have the chance to secure medicine. It is not the first time that we face crises, it is not the first time that we work in challenging circumstances but Lebanon has never gone through a crisis like this.

Sometimes it is overwhelming to rise again after each fall, but I can assume that this is what our work as artists and cultural practitioners is about because simply we don’t have the luxury of falling apart. “Each act is virgin, even the repeated act” said once Rene Char, the French poet and activist.