BEIRUT: Home Works 8 was postponed indefinitely Monday and Ashkal Alwan, the event’s organizers, pointedly refrained from expressing the pro forma regrets usually accompanying such announcements.
“We do not regret to inform you that Ashkal Alwan is indefinitely postponing all programs and events scheduled to take place from Oct. 17-27, 2019, as part of the 8th edition of Home Works: A Forum on Cultural Practices,” declared the statement released late Monday afternoon.
The Forum’s eighth edition had assembled an eclectic 10-day-long program of exhibition openings and tours, performances, readings, lectures, talks, panel discussions, publication launches and film projections, installed or otherwise staged at a dozen venues around town.
HW8 exhibitions opened on schedule Thursday, but popular demonstrations provoked by tax hikes proposed as part of the government’s draft budget compelled participating venues to shutter. The uncertainty prompted by ad hoc road closures and vandalism have made commercial outlets, nervous about remaining open to the public.
“The launch of this edition of Home Works has once again been overwhelmed by the very forces that had initially led to its inception in 2001,” Ashkal Alwan’s statement continued. “Lebanon is witnessing spontaneous popular uprisings, bent on targeting our current regime and its security apparatuses, as well as toppling sectarian discourses and their hold on public life.
“Artistic and cultural institutions and initiatives are in no way isolated from broader civic, political, economic and ideological contexts, but rather shaped as a result of and in response to historical events and their repercussions.”
“Worldbuilding,” the theme driving this edition’s programming, was selected in response to the environmental, social, economic and political crises that have preoccupied news media, as well as artists, academics and arts laborers in recent years.
“This edition of Home Works initially called on participants to partake in acts of collective world-building, suggesting pathways to re-imagine social relations as they currently stand. Then, it seemed pertinent to echo the region’s [manifold] attempts at dismantling inherited structures of the past and designing alternative blueprints for the future, from Sudan to Syria, and from Algeria to Iraq. Today, it is our turn.
“In the past week, we have actively participated in mass protests and general strikes, closely monitored the situation as it was unfolding, and consulted with friends and colleagues from the legal, academic, journalistic, and artistic-cultural sectors to decide on the best way forward.
“Our conclusion: There shouldn’t be any reason to regret or apologize for the indefinite postponement of our programs and events. Our artistic, intellectual and organizational energy will be redirected toward the achievement of our hopes and aspirations, the possibility of which is being granted to us by a momentum that should be seized at any cost.”