From Al Murashah to Propaganda


WaPo's Philip Kennicott writes that during last year's municipal elections in Beirut, there were election posters for a shadowy candidate named Al Murashah. "He took his place next to the many thousands of images of familiar sectarian leaders that become ubiquitous during Lebanon's political seasons," observes Kennicott. "But Al Murashah was a fiction, a candidate invented by an underground art group called Heartland."

Heartland's back for this year's post-Syrian elections, "not with Al Murashah, but with a project they call 'Propaganda.' Instead of a generic face, they've posted blank sheets of paper. The work was intended as a counterpoint to the explosion of visuals that have confronted the Lebanese over the last four months of tumult: the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, the protests against Syrian occupation, and the current parliamentary elections, which continue through June 19."

Kennicott's piece is about a Lebanonese "cultural revival" in the wake of Syrian military withdrawal; it addresses art, photography, pop videos, moviemaking, and even the country's consumerist bent. ("Beirut has become the capital of kitsch," charges a predictable AUB academic.) There's an extended stretch about Hariri music videos, which you read about here in March.