arrived in Beirut airport at a late hour. After a long wait in a long passport queue I came out of the terminal building with my luggage. Somebody with a paper with my name written on it met me and in a car, we delved into Beirut streets. He brought me to Ghassan's house. We entered the house quietly. He told me my room was at the end of the corridor on the left and that I would share it with somebody else. There were two beds in the room and in one of them my unknown room mate was sleeping qui-etly, taking deep breaths. A dim orange light was coming through the thin curtains on the window. I undressed in the dark as best as I could and went to bed. I believe it must have about 03.30a.m.; I went to sleep listening to the sounds coming from the street. [...]
The next day I started talking to people. I could even retain some names. Mahmoud, Camille, Patricia, Juliana, Norman, Luca.
After the difficult, depressive, long winter that I had lived through, I felt that here I could find the means to discharge my energy. I found an internet café. With American friend Harth I had my first real conversation. We walked around the town together, we spoke, we asked each other questions about our approach to our works and the milieu we were in. We went to the market, did some shopping. I bought some paper. It was ordinary yellow wrapping paper; the kind they call here toast paper; I could start drawing some sketches. Grafiti is an activity I use when searching for inspiration for a new work. I could draw the garden; I could make some notes. This paper may also be useful to the other artists. Maybe, they also would like to make some drawings, sketches. Later, I made a newspa-of these sketches and the sketches of the other
artist friends and called it Aiwa Journal. I discussed with Harth what this seemingly aimless walks around town meant for me. Strolling aimlessly... During these random walks I would find some object and put it in my pocket. We spoke about all this. A creative process had started but I did not yet know how it would develop. When we went back to the site, I went again into the garden and sat on the same stone. This was some sort of a prove for me. [...]
I found writing in the garden. On July 31st, 1958, when these gardens were being constructed, probably a mason had scratched this date and the name AL GENERAL FOUAD CHEHAB on wet cement with a nail. According to what Ayman explained later that day, Chehab is remembered as the person who established the first university in Lebanon and helped modernize the country. I include
some information about him here. Mv work Proiect had assumed meaning with this newfound information. I felt like an archeologist digging in modern times; modern archeology or archeology of the modern (times). As the objects I collected were arranged on the hexagonal table, they seemed to be photographing the past 50 years of this rural region. Chehab was a person well liked; as a personality who created a balance between the different ethnic groups and different religions in the country, he had taken his place in Lebanese history. [...]
The weather changed. Fog started to descend. I think I should really say, fog, was rising from the foot of the mountain to where we were, to the top of the mountain. A pale color that slowly turned to a colorless veil was covering the environment. Sometimes I could hardly see beyond five or six meters. [...]
the Fog, the Garden, the Cat and the yellow flower, 2008
The inauguration was two days ago. I showed my works, "Convivial Garden for Chehab" and "Table of Collected Memories" to the viewers. I received warm and positive reactions. Yesterday I thanked my garden; its stone, its earth, its tree, its flowers, its dust, its smells, its fruit, its light, the bird cages, its color, for the satisfaction and the energy that it had given me. I said good-bye to them. I put out the lights. We said our farewells with Abu-Fadi. He can always go back to the garden, put the lights on, drink his coffee and smoke a cigarette. I gave him back the garden I had borrowed from him. May he enjoy it for a long time.
I left this magical place. I was reborn. I was somebody else now. I brought back almost all the objects I had exposed on my table with me. I am hoping to expose them again as a travelling memory of those reaions, in other lands. Why shouldn't they go to the Gibraltar one day; even cross the straights over to the other side? In order for the work to live, it is enough only to wish; to dream. It is enough that I work to construct the memory bridges people build with things; and as long as I retain my belief in the magic of things.