Glub, A Collaborative Works With Mieke Bal
GLUB (Hearts), 2004
Mixed media & video + photo installation / Duration: 29:00 min
This installation (video) aims to give a positive image of migration as an aesthetic phenomenon with economical and political undertones. It is set in contemporary Berlin and integrates academic and artistic work. Conceived as primarily performative, the installation integrates media and sense experiences.
Glub is the Arabic word for hearts, a word used for edible roasted and salted seeds, a low-cost appetizer. We mobilize these two meanings together, to create something like “eating with the heart.” Taking as a starting point the many meanings of the seeds – sunflower, pumpkin, and all kinds of other seeds – traditionally eaten in many non-European societies but mostly associated with the Arabic world, the installation uses video to not only offer such a positive image, but encourage and enable visitors to construct such an image for themselves and immerse themselves in it. Literally, that is: visitors are offered the choice of different activities. They can begin watching a film on the new Berlin cityscape accompanied by the sound of people who, on video monitors, also watch the film. Or they may prefer watching and interacting with the friendly faces of people eating and enjoying seeds, while listening to audio tapes each of which develop one of the many meanings and connotations of seeds, and the implementation of “migratory aesthetics” in the Berlin urban landscape and attendant art scene. These audio narratives and statements enable each visitor to shape his or her own, interiorised “film.”
The mixed societies that have emerged as the result of migration have benefited enormously from the arrival of people from many different cultures. Cities have become more heterogeneous ("colourful"), music and cinema have been spectacularly enriched, and philosophy gratefully uses the potential offered by thinking along the lines of – and through metaphors relating to – migrancy. Cinema has finally ceased to be predominantly either Hollywood or elitist avant-garde, and a “third” cinema” or “accented” cinema is now reaching levels of popularity few could have expected ten years ago. On the streets of certain neighborhoods of Berlin, most noticeably Kreuzberg, the shells of sunflower seeds testify to the presence of migrant culture in contemporary European urban centers. Those shells, traces of passing gestures that are now so common they are no longer even perceived as “accented”, are the “low” icons of an “look” or everyday-life aesthetic that we can call a “migratory aesthetics”. “Low”, because inexpensive, modest, and thrown away as rubbish; “low” as unspectacular, democratic because available to all, and lying around on the once immaculate pavements. Aesthetic, though, because they mark the look of the city that, as this installation proposes, has donned, through these shells and the sociability of the people who left them after eating outside, in the open, and together, a visible aspect of diversity.
Accompanied by the sound of cracking and eating seeds, people in the film discuss issues of migration and internationalization, from the phenomenon of seeds to speaking a foreign language, to changes in the look of the city and the thriving art scene. Funny and poignant stories are interwoven in the film with images that together depict the new Berlin. The videos present series of portraits with a stylized image of seed eaters, thus integrating them into the beauty we expect from art, while “behind” each portrait longer stories are being told by the figures of merchants, students, artists and passers-by who appear in the film. And while one is in the gallery, one cannot escape, nor place with precision, the sound of cracking seeds.
special thanks to
written, directed and edited by
we thank for their valuable contributions
and we thank the following institutions:
for equipment lent
additional images contributed by