This summer marks the much-anticipated release of the anthology The Beirut Call: Harnessing Creativity for Change. This collection from Elyssar Press features the work of 21 artists, poets, professors, and activists, who together are exploring the theme of how—in the words of Dr. Mitri Raheb—“art is a necessity” and “a political tool.”
You can watch the 30-minute Behind-the-Scenes Interview of The Beirut Call by clicking that link, or by going directly to our Elyssar Press YouTube Channel. Thank you so much to Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Dr. Mitri Raheb, and Ms. Roula Salibi, for your time, your words, and your creative drive to make this anthology possible.
Proceeds from The Beirut Call will help Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture continue to fund artists, arts NGOs, and small creative enterprises’ projects in Lebanon.
Here are three thematic highlights from the interview. Enjoy and please, help us spread the word about this important work.
Art for Political Change: Thoughts from Professor Dr. Mitri Raheb
In a world rife with grief, uncertainty, and chaos, art offers a buoy for the emotional aftermath of events like the Beirut port explosion of August 4th, 2020. The art and essays in this anthology offer a vision that critiques the local and global response to the Beirut port explosion, while also centering the people most directly impacted.
Dr. Mitri Raheb is the Founder and President of Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem. The most widely published Palestinian theologian to date, Dr. Raheb is also the author and editor of 40 books. Dr. Raheb wrote the foreword for The Beirut Call.
Dr. Raheb explains early on in the interview that “Art is important as a political tool in the context of war and a post-traumatic context. It also is really important as a tool to express oneself.”
Art as Vital for Creative Expression: Thoughts from Artist Roula Salibi
The Beirut Call challenges readers to consider alternatives for countries that face wars, crises, instability, and despair. Roula Salibi is an up-and-coming Lebanese contemporary jewelry designer who has also been instrumental in making this anthology possible.
“I’m still trying to cope,” Roula Salibi expresses during the interview, regarding her Come Into the Wild collection. “It’s all a bit postponed now.” Covid-19 meant that a lot of events in the arts community were cancelled, on top of the impact on artists of an ongoing economic crisis.
“But nothing will stop me from being inspired—everything inspires me. The architecture, the heritage, everything. Even after the blast and the dark side of Beirut, it inspires us. And I will always be creative.”
Art as Resistance: Thoughts from Scholar and Writer, Dr. Pamela Chrabieh
When people experience grief and uncertainty, the arts offer one way, however small, to engage the people through deep and emotional connections.
Dr. Pamela Chrabieh is a scholar, university professor, visual artist, activist, writer and consultant. Towards the end of this interview, Dr. Chrabieh speaks to how both concepts of resistance and resilience “are larger than these narrow stereotyped connotations, explanations, and expressions.”
“When we think of resistance art, we think of art that is opposing to power-holders, opposing a culture of violence, opposing corruption,” etc., whereas resilience is the “capacity to recover from difficulties […] It is not about accepting whatever we are fed. It’s really a complete deconstruction and reconstruction.”
In Review: An Anthology with a Hundred Eyes
The Beirut Call presents Lebanon from a hundred eyes, telling the story from many perceptions and expressions that speak to Lebanese in their homeland and in the Lebanese diaspora. The book transcends the borders of Lebanon as contributors address worldwide issues of war, peace, memory, history, identity, creativity, cultural resistance, resilience, artistic activism, human rights, feminism, social justice, intercultural dialogue.
Huge thank you to Dr. Pamela Chrabieh, Dr. Mitri Raheb, and Ms. Roula Salibi, for your time, your words, and this amazing collaboration. Proceeds from The Beirut Call will help Dar al Kalima University College of Arts and Culture continue to fund artists, arts NGOs, and small creative enterprises’ projects in Lebanon.
You can learn more about this new anthology and purchase your copy today at: https://elyssarpress.com/books/the-beirut-call-arts-resilience-resistence/.