Middle East Monitor, Lebanese artist Nadim Karam: ‘I try to bring dreams to a city’ by Amelia Smith

Lebanese artist Nadim Karam: ‘I try to bring dreams to a city’


Nadim Karam:


Amelia Smith:



Aisha’s Story – Nadim Karam

Aisha’s story /

The belly dancer was dancing. She was in the middle of her performance when two policemen came to arrest her. Her hair and skirts  were still swirling around her when they took her roughly by the shoulders. Her necklace shattered. Pearls scattered all over the stage, many of them lost through the gaps in the wooden boards. By official decree, she was not to wear layers of clothes that touched her body if she wished to dance again. So she conceived a structure like a giant bird cage that she could dance inside, with only her neck and feet visible. But it was so heavy she could barely move. She had it lengthened so that it touched the ground and took some of the weight off her feet, but she was still unable to move. She had it lengthened even more, confident that the structure would carry her and she would float within. The time for her new performance came. The music began and she was pushed onstage in her cage, covered with the most exquisite embroidered silks. She began swaying, but every movement tightened the pressure on her neck, and as the melody rose to a crescendo, she succumbed with a last breath.


… It began by thinking about the projects that I have realized globally, and the aim behind them.  What have I been searching for through these projects? How was freedom, if at all, involved in the making of these projects? Shouldn’t we creative people be pioneers in the continual redefinition of the expression of freedom?  Obviously, the world is connected.  Virtually and digitally speaking, boundaries between peoples are vanishing.  Practically and physically the boundaries are evident.  However, there is now a chasm between the ability to talk to the world and the ability to get there.

I remain convinced that there is no absolute freedom.  There are invisible governing networks that apply differently to different encounters and places on earth, creating fragmented negotiated freedoms.  There could be absolute freedom if one was isolated in a room to create, without any interference whatsoever.  But the moment one leaves the room and intermingles with the surroundings, freedom becomes a matter for negotiation between oneself and the other – it becomes relative.

These reflections took me back to a story I have been developing for several years.  A story that I have kept in the drawer for a long time, made of a series of sketches that spread over several sketch books.

The story begins with light, that omnipresent global hope, freely moving in the universe.  It has been proven scientifically, that light appears sometimes as a wave and at other times as a particle.

In my story, a light particle moving towards planet earth became fainter and fainter as it approached.  In a last effort, the light particle joined with a complementary light wave, and formed a creature with a shape resembling a head and a tail.  It was called Dede.

Getting closer to the earth, it discovered the human race, and became fascinated by the range and colours of their artificial creations. Dede decided that he wanted to enter the human world.

It took much of discussion and a lot of resistance from a Board of Stars, who considered humans puny, tiny little things; irrelevant in the vastness of the universe of light.  But Dede insisted.  He wanted to explore the world of things that human had created, from tastes like chocolate and ice-cream, bright colours and funky cars to tantalizing textures, smells and sounds.  At last, it was agreed to allow him to descend amongst the human beings, and he acquired a body mainly made of cotton.  He landed on earth, but discovered that he had unwillingly retained an element from his previous being: HIS TAIL.Image