An installation by Mieke Bal and Shahram Entekhabi
This project aims to give an image of „migratory aesthetics“ – the traces of migration as an aesthetic phenomenon, in this case in contemporary Berlin. It integrates academic and artistic work. Conceived as primarily performative, the proposed 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. 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 an image of „the migratory“ in culture, but encourage and enable visitors to construct such an image for themselves and immerse themselves in it. Literally, that is: in the installation, visitors are offered the choice of hearing in any sequence they prefer, in their own sequence and at their own pace, a number of audio tapes that each 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. Walking and sitting within the world of seeds, enveloped by the smell of seeds being roasted, the audio installation suggest narrative materials out of which each visitor can shape his or her own, interiorised „film“.
The installation consists of a very large screen projection of the film GLUB (Hearts) (30 minutes) accompanied by a generous offering of sunflower and other seeds. The idea is that visitors get a taste – again, literally – of the multi-sensory aspect by eating (taste) smelling, feeling (touch), and hearing the crunching sounds of the shells under their feet. Facing this projection are seven columns on which monitors show portraits of individuals eating seeds, accompanied by the loud cracking sounds that accompany this activity. The viewer, caught in the middle, has the choice of watching the film with these individuals, joining in with the cheerful pass-time of seeds eating, or to confront them and interact with these people who each look straight into the lens, hence, who look the visitor in the eyes. Each column is equipped with a CD payer that offers the narratives grouped around seven different topics.
Berlin / Amsterdam 2004