From Belgrade to Beirut: underground scenes in the spotlight
Over the course of three days, activists, hackers, bloggers, internet gurus and artists from all over the world met in a huge event brought by the SHARE conference. Definitely the kind of conference we enjoy attending as they present new ideas and often mix technology, art and activism which are important topics for us. Luckily, our video reporter Anais is currently in Beirut and had the chance to attend this new SHARE event. This is her report.
When you hear “oh, that city is SO underground” have you ever felt that you don't know where to find the underground scene?
- Soundtrack of the report
- The Lesson
Have you been or seen one of these tourists in Berlin or Belgrade hanging around with a camera trying to find the “squats” and getting on the nerves of local people at the time they start asking “where can I find an underground party in an abandoned factory?”.
Well, underground is something you can't define easily. It's usually a concept that starts dying as soon as it starts being famous. It's even more dangerous to try to define it in Lebanon where anyone can be an artist if he participated at least once in an exhibition, even if it’s just a school exhibition when he was 8.
But now, Beirut has decided to show what her insides are made of with the SHARE Beirut event.
Basically, SHARE is about this:
Let's dive into it!
Marwa Edoubayya welcomed us to this 3-day, non-stop event. She's one of the organizers of SHARE Beirut, and also an activist for a group that monitors the Lebanese Parliament. She works with—and also fights against—the power to make things change, even if she sometimes has to deal with military forces while demonstrating. She told us why it was the right place and the right time to gather all these innovators and thinkers from Lebanon and abroad.
Go to any bar or gathering, and you will meet artists, free-thinkers, activists of all sorts. The city is a hive of creativity, and the inhabitants of this hive all met at SHARE Beirut. Around 1500 participants shared knowledge all day long, mainly focused on freedom. Freedom of the media, freedom of speech, Internet freedom, women's rights... Among them, Wael Abbas, famous Egyptian journalist and blogger, came to talk about the situation in his country. In Egypt, as in most other Middle Eastern countries, a conference like SHARE would have been much more difficult to organize.
Between two talks most of the participants were chilling on the rooftop. Bassam Jalhje, an artist and activist, welcomed visitors with a suitable invention: a moving beer table named Emily.
Bassam Jalhje and his moving beer-table
Bassam is not only a new-generation geek inventor. He belongs to a kind of hybrid artist and activist, who use new technologies and media with the aim to share and build a community to make things change in Lebanon. He's an active member of Lamba Labs, a collective which organized the first hacker space in Lebanon, a community space where artists and engineers can meet and combine their interests. Their challenge? Make this hackerspace a permanent fixture in Lebanon.
Bassam Jalhje and his moving beer-table
Later, on the rooftop, another visitor came to have some rest after a long day of talking. He couldn't rest, though, because of the huge amount of people who wanted to take a picture with him. No need to introduce Peter Sunde, founder of the Pirate Bay. On the first day of SHARE he was freshly arrived to Beirut and confessed he was mostly hanging around with Serbian people. But he shared with us his first impressions about the country and general thoughts about globalization and travel.
Peter Sunde, founder of the Pirate Bay
Peter Sunde has felt the flavor of Beirut, a city between Orient and Occident. A taste of freedom was floating in the air this weekend. If there is one thing to remember about it: these underground activists who have many ideas and desire of change finally all met to learn about the word “community”. Let's see what this new energy will bring in the next months. And please, if you happen to visit Beirut to meet all these new makers and feel the Middle East's creativity, please don't ask them where the next warehouse party is!