17 doors

17 doors

topos art gallery, austin, tx, 1994 - The title of this work has both a political and metaphorical foundation. The civil war in Lebanon was fought by as many as 17 political and military factions -- one of the most notorious, and most feared guerrilla groups was known only as "17." A door is both a demarcation line between inside and outside, and a symbol of communication between people, either open or closed. These two words together evoke a richness and complexity that is Beirut. Rough, crude recordings made with a handheld cassette recorder during two separate returns to Beirut were digitally edited and composed. There were particular sounds we were interested in capturing -- the muezzin, car horns, street vendors, cafes, conversations, music, construction, generators -- in order to create a sonic environment of the particular timbre that is Beirut. Two phrases spoken in three languages were mixed over the sounds of the city. The first, "I never left Beirut, Beirut left me," is spoken by Jean-Pierre Zahar, a close Lebanese friend, during a phone call from Beirut. This phrase is a quote from Jean Said Makdisi's Beirut Fragments. The second, "I left Beirut, Beirut never left me," is spoken by myself.

17 doors