Wednesday, December 26, 2012

For a Merry Accessible Christmas



Old magazines, used bottles, tins, and many newspapers were in piles a few weeks before Christmas. 247square aimed at transforming what was once trash to joyful Christmas decorations.

straws wraps, plastic bottles, and leftover wool
straws wraps and bottle labels are transformed into the above decorations

The idea behind it was to reflect on the birth (and life) of Jesus to produce decorations that are within that spirit. The message is one of love and peace regardless of class, ethnicity, and even religion. 
So we wanted to make the decorations as accessible as we can to the public, and made everything out of recycled materials to show how the beautiful can come out of common daily material.

a flower out of plastic bottles

We took some of those decorations indoors, mainly at AUB Bechtel Building and Cafe Ta Marbouta. The rest of the decorations were plastered around the streets of Hamra. 

247square Christmas decorations at Ta2 Marbouta

Unfortunately, for whatever unbeknownst reason, the decorations disappeared the next day. Within less than 24 hours, they were gone. Who and why, we do not know, but the joy in the voice of the passerby’s who were complimenting the project was more than enough to make our project worthwhile.

boxes, newspapers | decorations around Hamra, Beirut

tins (cocacola, mirenda, pepsi, sevenup) | decorations around Hamra, Beirut

magazines, old books and papers | decorations around Hamra, Beirut

Merry Christmas everyone

Project Organizer: Anastasia Matar
Project Members:  
research and ideas: Anastasia Matar, Alaa Kabalan 
sketching and experimentation: Saba Sadr, AyaKrisht, Anastasia Matar, Alaa Kabalan, helped by Elizabeth Matar, Zeina Shaaban, Maria Mouteirek, Layla Smaili 
mass productions: Alaa Kabalan, Shahine Kabalan, Wafaa Safi, Ramy Kabalan, Anastasia Matar, Saba Sadr, Aya Krisht, Zeina Shaaban.
finalizing and hanging: Alaa Kabalan, Saba Sadr, Zeina Shaaban, Anastasia Matar

A wonderful shoutout to the glorious Majida el-Roumi, whose music we used in our video, for her retweeting our Christmas sentiments.

Monday, December 10, 2012

EXHIBITION | Rafic Saab "Sugar-Quoted Mix" | December 2012

We set out on Friday afternoon amid a heavy downpour of rain to be the first ones at the much-awaited opening of designer/illustrator Rafic Saab’s exhibition, Sugar-Quoted Mix. Entering the A Fish In Sea exhibition space, our damp clothes and the rainstorm outside are soon forgotten as we are drawn into the amalgam of color and quotes, women and monsters, humor and gore.

Humorous takes on familiar Arabic sayings, a wailing monster and a fan-art piece based on Fouad Mezher’s “The Educator” are just some of the different directions Rafic’s work takes

As we move from one piece to another we are struck by the stunning variety of not only the subject matter, but also Rafic’s ever-evolving approaches to his work and the different stories behind them. A seductive girl in tight leather with devil horns and tail is the outcome of Rafic getting carried away with what started out as a simple sketch for a bet. The movie Pan’s Labyrinth is the inspiration behind a fabulously intricate inked illustration featuring demons and eyeballs. Other works come to life under Rafic’s fingertips when he is afflicted by sleeplessness or utter boredom.

A personal favorite of Rafic’s, this is an example of a completely spontaneous illustration that simply unfolded on the paper as he worked
A section of the exhibition is devoted to the collection of Rafic’s highly entertaining interpretations of vernacular Arabic sayings, each more fun than the last. “This is my favorite,” Rafic tells us, pointing to his depiction of  “الحياة جزرة”.

Rafic poses in front of his collection of illustrated vernacular sayings
Like much of his work, this particular collection wasn’t something Rafic had planned. “It started with a simple sketch, I said okay, let’s add a caption and then somehow it became a series,” he explains.

Mother’s and Father’s day cards are an extension of Rafic’s vernacular sayings collection
After we’ve had a good turn around the exhibition space and taken our time absorbing the captivating array of work, we sit down with Rafic to ask him a little more about how he works.

Hanging out with Rafic is never a dull experience
On the subject of his inspiration, Rafic draws a clear line between commissioned and non-commissioned work. “The thing is, clients have no idea what they want,” he says before going on to describe the process of finding out exactly who a character is before he can draw them.

Our chat with Rafic is punctuated with jokes, laughter and his usual mischievous behavior 
When it comes to more personal work he can be inspired by anything, from movies to music (the likes of Chimera and The Nine Inch Nails, “absolutely nothing classical”) to his very surroundings. “I doodle everywhere, on anything, with anything,” he tells us, something that is evident from the group of sketches he’s put up in one section of the exhibition.

For every flowered background there is a bloody counterpart – Rafic’s subjects vary greatly and manifest his different moods
“I usually sketch when I can’t sleep,” Rafic reflects. “Or when I’m going through a bad situation, I try to channel my emotions into my work rather than do something destructive. Then when I look back at a certain piece and remember what I was going through at the time, I can say it turned out great.”

Rafic reflects on the inspirations behind his work
Some of the work is purely digital while others begin as pencil sketches; Rafic enjoys both approaches. But no matter how they start out or how far he takes them, whether they remain simple pencil drawing or evolve into fully rendered illustrations, each piece is a unique creation that drips with nuance (and/or blood) and speaks of the inner workings of Rafic’s personality.

Friends and visitors leave comments and doodles for Rafic
Article & interview: Aya Krisht
Photography: Saba Sadr


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