Thursday, October 8, 2009


Percival learned he should not ask questions. A true knight wouldn’t have to ask them, as the answers would come to him naturally. Patience and the taming of curiosity where highly regarded virtues.
Percival doesn’t know he has a gift that allows him to access the Holy Grail. Only him can see it. But can he understand it? He enters the castle of the Fisher King. He sees the King is wounded and that the all country is suffering with him. Percival is hurt inside, he feels compassion for the sufferers and he’s aching to ask “why?” - but he learned a knight asks no questions. So he fails to do the only thing that would heal the King and the all country (not to mention, allowing him to get the Holy Grail…)

Can you see a Green Monster walking on the streets? Are you curious about it? How far will you go to ignore it? Are you so much into avoiding the fellow passer by that you even missed a large furry green thing walking beside you? Is it possible to check the Percivalism of a society by watching how it reacts to the Green Monster’s soft provocation?

Me & the Monsters

The idea for this project came to me when sitting at a table in Beirut with four Lebanese friends: one was Sunni, another Maronite, a third Shi’a and the fourth Greek Orthodox. It struck me that, though we all were friends and collaborative artists, they all belonged to different religious groups. The implications of this fact go very far, as I learned. In my “laic western mind” I could hardly believe that, for instance, in case of conflict, all of them would take refuge in completely different areas of the city/country. They would probably not communicate with each other until “normality” would come back. Still, there we were, laughing around the same table. Faced with this paradox, these questions came to my mind:

- How "really" real are these differences?
- And where do I belong? Which group would take me in?

If for a western woman (a tourist) these would be relatively easy questions to answer, what about a Green Monster? What about a total “alien"?

A few months later I asked my friends what did they think of this idea.
I refreshed their memories on that evening in Beirut, and how special it was for me.
Rima replied that in fact they themselves are a sort of Green Monster too in their communities.
They cross borders, they drink with the "enemy", they don't mind the gap... and then suddenly I had this vision of me sitting at a table with them, my FOUR GREEN MONSTERS!

I grabbed a green paper (where are colored pencils when you need one?) and sketched this:

But somehow this wasn't it yet...
I decided to ask somebody more capable to depict my imagination.
And so, brilliantly, Lucy Pepper did:

Four Green Monsters and a girl at a table in Beirut.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Program / Intentions

A Western Woman and then a Green Monster will walk the streets of different areas in Beirut: West, East and South. They will do exactly the same walk. Two camerawomen will film this walk. In the evening the footage will be edited.
At the end of the week, at Zico’s House, a rough-cut of this material will be shown to an audience. A debate will follow.

PROGRAM day by day:

18th/21st: street performance + filming on the streets of Beirut (West, East, South).
22nd/23rd: editing rough-cut.
23th: public showing of rough-cut and debate (Zico's House).

My experience with the Green Monster, so far in Amsterdam and Aleppo, is that he stirs the social tissue where he walks in. He is peaceful and a bit slow, harmless, still he shows very well how people react to the “other”, the “alien” in their midst.
The footage with the Western Woman serves as a “control footage” in the video.

I’m curious what kind of reactions the soft provoking monster and its footage will get from Beirut’s audience…

My main focus on this project is underlining that what we people (and monsters!) have in common is far more and far more important than what divides us. Still my intention is not to play a cultural anthropologist (I wouldn't be able to). I want to make a piece of art that addresses hard issues with humor. And through laugh and self-mockery, make people talk about them.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Monster's previous adventures

New challenge for the Green Monster

© Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos

I'm happy to announce that I got invited for participating on this year's Beirut Street Festival.
I'm now on the process of finding subsidies and establishing a team.
I'm counting to be there on the period between 18th and 24th October.