Skn (sakana)

Tony Chakar

Youssef Tohme

Hassan Daoud

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October 6, 2010 - October 27, 2010

In Arabic, the word skn (sakana) means to dwell, to inhabit – but it also means to be still or silent, to be at peace. Furthermore, if we apply the method of Sheikh Abdullah El-‘alaayli, where each letter in the Arabic alphabet is assigned a specific meaning, we obtain:

– the letter [siin] points to what is ample, wide and flat;
– the letter [kaaf] is for a thing which has been produced by friction from another thing;
– and the letter [nuun] signifies the interiority in things.
The combination of these letters points not only to the act of dwelling itself, but to its preconditions – the preparation of the land and the working of the construction materials.

This basic yet ancestral knowledge contained in language goes against the common understanding of architecture today as an ultra-specialized, self-referential activity which is always pointing to its center and which has no peripheries.
Through talks and debates, the programme of “skn (sakana)” will attempt to draw attention to elements which are peripheral to architecture, yet intrinsically linked to it (language, philosophy, image, cinema and so forth).

Wednesday, October 6, at 8 pm
Beirut: the security map 
A talk by Mona Fawaz, Mona Harb, Ahmad Gharbyeh

Social scientists concur that the global obsession with security has increasingly reshaped the ways in which cities are governed and lived. This assessment very much fits historical, recent, and ongoing trends in Beirut… so much so that many of us have integrated an additional competence in our navigation of the city, one that helps us bypass, ease, or appropriate the hurdles imposed by security. Yet, very little public discussion has questioned, documented, and/or resisted this normalization of security in the experience of the city. By developing a series of mapping on the deployment and practice of security in Beirut from the point of view of several user groups, this project is an effort to initiate a debate on the effects of security on our understanding of the urban experience. The presentation will document the process of mapping and look critically at its limitations and potentials, which was part of an ongoing collaborative project that the three of us have conducted for the past two years. Earlier versions have been presented in Rotterdam and Berlin.

Wednesday, October 13, at 8 pm
The eighth day. [god created the world in seven days. this is the eighth day.] 
A talk by Tony Chakar

The eighth day is an ongoing investigation, currently taking the form of a lecture-performance series, that began in the aftermath of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon in July 2006, however not directly related to these attacks. during and after the Israeli military operation, images from Lebanon’s recent past (the civil wars of 1975-1990) inundated public realms (space and psyche) as well as discourse – becoming, at times, very difficult to endure – proving that the Lebanese wars (regarded as catastrophic) are still cast in the unspoken. The eighth day weaves a collection of elements – texts, images, songs, videos, publicity spots, etc. – that are metaphorical manifestations of the space and time of the catastrophe, and attempts to identify the necessary strategies for redeeming the past-as-image.

Wednesday, October 20, at 8 pm
On “space” in Hassan Daoud’s novels
A conversation with Hassan Daoud

In some of Hassan Daoud’s novels, space plays a major role in defining the plot and the characters. In this conversation, the narrator will shed some light on the relationships between space, novel, and text.

Wednesday, October 27, at 8 pm
On the crisis of meaning in architecture roundtable with Joseph Hourani, Joseph Rustom and Youssef Tohme
Moderated by Tony Chakar

Architecture’s role within human communities was always more than to merely provide shelter or adequate buildings for specific functions. Architecture spoke of the ways humans viewed the world, their world, and their place in it; architecture allowed humans to participate in constructing their world and giving it, and consequently their existence in it, meaning and purpose. Is architecture still capable of playing that role in today’s world, where words like “meaning” and “participation” seem to fade into the distance? And consequently, what does it mean to ask these specific questions today in postwar Lebanon?

All the talks are in Arabic. Entrance is free of charge. Booking in advance is advised.