molly hankwitz on 26 Oct 2000 06:06:25 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Interview with Jayce Salloum

	Interview with Jayce Salloum, video artist, curator, repeat visitor
to Beirut.
Jayce has produced numerous documentaries on Lebanon and is widely read
and knowledgeable of the history and cutlures there.

	How wired is Beirut?

Beirut seems very wired, when I was there 7 years ago, you could find fax
machines at corner stores selling time by the minute, depending on the day,
they were sometimes covered in blankets for fear of censorship/regulation by
the government of the day. Now there are internet server resellers on most
every commercial street and several basic providers, I hear that cable net
service is even coming soon but that should not be surprising as the
Beirutiis are usually on the edge of new technology and fashion. The other
large change is that everyone has cell (mobile) phones and uses them
constantly for updates on the political situation, altering of social plans
due to threats of Israeli strikes, or for just planning spontaneous get
togethers, a pretty 'wired' (or satelite-ed) society in the city. Pretty
impressive considering cell phone use costs are very high, even more than in

	What is the independent mediascape like?

The independent video scene is booming, there are many interesting producers
now, some are recent graduates of western schools who are teaching or just
making their works, there are about 250 video students at the local colleges,
and a constant influx of media artists and visual artist visitors and an
emergent independent curatorial scene makes for a constant humm of activity.
I didn't notice other new media works (net/computer art etc) but I also
didn't investigate that fully, there is a lot of new music work and CDs being
released. The alternative videos get shown in some of the best theatres in
town, I was in some beautiful cinemas watching the most radical personal
video work that would never make into like  theatres here, an interesting
presence where video has also replaced most film, there still is schlocky
movies around all over but there is a place for independent work that is much
larger than I've seen in most (maybe all) western cities.

	How active and involved are people with media now in
	this deplorable situation?

People rely on the radio a lot for news and the television, the
(tv/radio/press) media there is a lot broader than is readily available in
America, not as broad as in the early nineties because of recent regulations
starting to be enforced but almost every spectrum of the local and
international political scene is represented. From Hizbuallah TV which is
amazingly savvy in it's propganda 'ads' of the resistance and their dynamic
huge billboards protesting  recent massacres in Palestine and the operations
of Hizbullah in the South of Lebanon and the Israeli outposts and their
histories.. to the very pro-Israeli CNN.

	Is there any censorship?

Yes, there is censorship, several artworks have been censored of late that I
heard about, and there is some censorship in the media the details which I
can't really answer right now but is it something I'd like to investigate

	Is there any exchange between leftists Israeli's and Palestinian

Yes there is, or at least there was a fair bit before the recent Intifada.

	What about the presence of western european and american journalists?

The European journalists used to be very well represented now
most report out of Jerusalem behind the Israeli army lines as you can see
during the protests.

	What is the mood in Beirut?

Varies, depending on who, a lot of Lebs are worried,
a lot of Palestinians are energized and optimistic for the first time in

	How are people organizing themselves?

Many demonstrations in support of the Palestinians  by Palestinians and
Lebanese alike, students, leftists, artists, activists etc. The resistance is
very well organized in the south now..

	Are there artists doing anything creative to support the resistance

Not that I know of, but just making contemporary art there is a form of
resistance in itself to the traditional underlying culture, a lot of the
artwork is political and critical, and there is a lot of work going on, and a
lot to be done.

	Thanks Jayce. (I'd like to visit.)

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