“For a person who has never seen the Orient, a lotus is still a lotus; for me it is only some kind of onion”. This is the disappointment French writer Nerval has to chew up after a trip to the Middle East, as retold in Edward Said’s “Orientalism”. Said’s point is not that there’s anything wrong with this part of the world. Quite the opposite: What is truly perverse is how the West sees the Orient.
Said is an important source of inspiration for Love & Revenge, a duo consisting of Lebanese hip-hop pioneer Rayess Bek and visual artist Randa Mirza. Together they explore the duality of being a fully-fledged individual – with all that implies of complexities – but at the same time being seen as the Other, someone that fits into in a cartoonish stereotype.
Love & Revenge is a meeting of two hermetically sealed universes: the broken, skeletal beats of the West’s electronic music production and the traditional folk music of the Orient. Bek and Mirza masters this art by sampling images and sounds from classic Arabic movies and pop songs and reorganizing them in the aesthetics of contemporary globalist pop music.
Thus the culture from the so-called Arabian golden age – the 1940s, 50s and 60s – is granted a new life. By being placed in an unfamiliar context much of the original meaning is changed, while the history lurking in its shadows remains. That is what powerful musical experiences are made of.