INTERVIEW: PAMELA CHRABIEH
Interview: Pamela Chrabieh
Luca Curci talks with Pamela Chrabieh during ANIMA AMUNDI FESTIVAL 2019 – VISIONS at Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi.
Pamela Chrabieh is a Lebanese & Canadian Doctor in Sciences of Religions, scholar, visual artist, activist, university professor, writer and consultant. She has exhibited her artworks in Canada, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Italy, and has organized and participated in art workshops and art therapy sessions in North America, Europe and Western Asia. She was selected as one of the 100 most influential women in Lebanon in 2013, and won several national and regional prizes in Canada and the United Arab Emirates.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Pamela Chrabieh – I was born and raised in the 1970s-1980s war in Lebanon. Growing up in war left me with a thirst to discover the truth behind the endless years spent in shelters and displacement, the survival techniques I learned, such as how to avoid snipers and land mines, the suffering following the destruction of our houses and the horrific deaths of loved ones, the fascination with war games I used to play, and the hours spent with my parents trying to look for bread. War has definitely marked my identity, world vision, and visual expression, but also my journeys and experiences at the crossroads of several countries, cultures and religions.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
PC – Mainly, war and peace as a general subject. Sub-subjects include: Dialogue, Human Rights, Gender Equality, Freedom of Expression, Cultural interpenetrations, Inclusion, etc.
LC – What is your creative process like?
PC – My visual art accompanies my writing, is influenced by it and influences it. And both creative journeys are closely linked to my personal experiences. These experiences should be powerful enough to push me to express myself me such as violence, separation, exile or death. I rarely produce content when I’m going through a status quo. And I rarely follow a strict path to create combinations of words, forms, colors and energies. Emotions and ideas progressively intermingle, and ultimately incarnate. I don’t see the creative journey as a series of specific steps set in stone, from preparation to implementation, but a multilevel construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of mental, physical and spiritual dynamics.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
PC – My artworks are a certain reflection of my journey as a resilient human being, a war survivor who is relentlessly searching for inner peace and peace with others, so that the vicious cycle of war breaks.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
PC – As I see it, being an artist nowadays is being (or should be about being) engaged in the production and dissemination of counter-cultures facing hegemonic cultures. It’s also being kind of a neo-renaissance human being, actively participating in building bridges across cultures and working towards more inclusive societies. Beyond a mere profession or a simple expression of one’s emotions, making art is and should be about living it and creating connections through it.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
PC – Definitely, and as previously mentioned, it is at the heart of my approach and quest. Anima Mundi symbolizes connections between cultures and religions; the contemporary and the traditional; the physical and the mental; the visible and the invisible; the past, present, and future; the logos (word) and the eikon (image); humanity, the natural and the spiritual, etc.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
PC – War disconnects lives, memories, and experiences by creating endless cycles of violence, murderous identities, and wounded memories. I have come to believe that these memories are inevitably transmitted from generation to generation in private and public spaces, and that socio-political conviviality and peace need both individual and national healing processes. Or else, the load of traumas that we carry will prevail, fueled by the continuous local and regional crises and State-sponsored amnesia. Contrary to war, peace is the art of connecting. It is a continuous process encompassing historical subjectivities and energies in interpenetrative modes; a process of interacting dynamics, fragmented and common truths, voices, paths, and pathos.
A Duwama (spiral or vortex) is a visualization of this peacebuilding process. It symbolizes life versus death, positive movement towards the manifestation of connections, and therefore, towards forgiveness, healing, and conviviality.
Every one of my Duwamas is a story of transformation, from a shattered and disconnected situation, event, emotion or experience, to a connected realm.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
PC – It’s a platform that translates across diverse channels and contributes to transnational creative communication. It pushes the envelope and helps artists who think outside the box connect and discover the richness of their differences.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
PC – Yes, and I hope we will pursue this cooperation.