Because of an arm injury sustained during the large protests in Beirut on the 17. October, Liliane Chlela is prevented from participating during this years Oslo World. The injury treatment requires limited mobility for a period of minimum 6 weeks, which collides with her fall touring schedule in Europe.
Chlela was supposed to participate during the Beirut & Beyond “mini festival” during this years Oslo World. With her distinct sound treatment and signature improvised performances, Chlela has pushed the boundaries of experimental and electronic music in Lebanon and the Middle East for over a decade, both as a solo artist and via her various local and international collective projects. She has worked with music for film, interactive installations, performance art, contemporary dance, fashion shows, making her one of the most versatile producers/musicians in the Middle East. We were looking forward to her meeting with the Oslo concert crowd.
The protests in Lebanon are enormous. Schools, Universities and offices have closed. A Nationwide strike has been called, protesters have grown steadily in Beirut and other places, demanding an end to economic stagnation, government corruption and failing public services. A proposed tax on Whatsapp triggered the demonstrations, but the withdrawal of the tax proposal has done little to calm the protesters. It has been brewing for a long time, and the protests cut across scecterian lines in Lebanon. As one young person told BBC: “”For the first time ever there is real unity in the country and not a fake one like we’ve seen before. People are realising that a Christian living in extreme poverty is no different from a Sunni or Shia living in extreme poverty.”
Oslo World has a special relationship with Lebanon. In 2013, we co-founded the Beirut & Beyond International Music Festival. The goal was to create bigger awareness around the cultural scene in Beirut. It is one of the most vital cultural centres in an area which has been hit by the war in Syria, the refugee crisis and the general economic and political unease. For us, it has been essential to shed light on everything else that is going on in these places. How areas we associate with catastrophes, with images of war and poverty, also are playgrounds for a host of different activities, groundbreaking expressions and ancient city cultures.
We want to show this also during the festival in Oslo, which was one of the reasons Chela was invited this year. We are sad that she is prevented, but we’re looking forward to the next opportunity. And we continue to watch the demonstrations sweeping the country with cautious optimism. If there is one place in the region where something good can come out of all this, it is Beirut, Lebanon.