As part of the Arab Artists in a Revolution series, during our three weeks in Cairo, we had the pleasure of meeting up with the former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. He may not be an artist but at 90 years of age, he is an extremely experienced observer of Egypt and the world, who is passionate about humanity and its problems. In this interview we meet in his living room over looking the Nile, the river that is “like a god” to him and who’s present and future crisis he see’s as 100% tied to that of Egypt.
Over the course of my week in Beirut I had the good fortune of spending time with teacher and performance artist Raghda Mouawad. Through her I learned a great many things about the country and its people, including details about the education system and the harsh reality for artists during an economic crisis in a country that offers little support. We also get back into that now familiar topic, the contradictions of Beirut when it comes to identities, ethnicity and beyond.The following podcast was recorded in a car late at night in Beirut on the eve of my departure last month. Special thanks to both Raghda and our silent passenger in the back seat, Krystel Khoury, for taking the time to explain and show me their city. Friends like these in far away places make doing what I do, not only possible, but a pleasure.
I’ve learned that Tunisia has a fantastic tradition, especially since the Uprising* of 2011, of cartoons with attitude. Nadia Khiari’s “Willis from Tunis” was born from the new freedom to express yourself and criticise things in public and he has wasted no time in becoming…
Ask Katherine Maher to describe the Beirut that she loves and you get stories of a place that sounds like Brooklyn, Berlin, London and Rio de Janeiro crumpled up and dropped onto the map in a region filled with anxiety, trauma, and uncertain futures. A place where life is lived to the fullest, by day and by night. And if you want art, you’ve come to the right place.On one fine October afternoon in Amsterdam, Katherine sat down with me to tell me of Beirut and the things a visiting journalist seeking storytellers and artists should keep in mind along the way.