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Tony Chakar and The Class of Contemporary Flânerie

I first thought of Charles Baudelaire and his words saying he found the words of his poems in the streets of Paris. It’s a beautiful thought,” said Tony Chakar answering my question about his course. In the third day of his multi-disciplinary class, the majority of the students are already out, wandering through the city, aiming for nothing in particular, but rather absorbing the local atmosphere and life.

 

 

 

A street in Salzburg center

 


Two years ago, Tony Chakar held a lecture in Salzburg and this is his first time teaching a course at the Summer Academy. As an architect, writer, and contemporary flâneur, he spends his days exploring the urban environment wandering through city streets, learning about what is not immediately visible. The link to his website shows that Tony acts as an artistic tour guide in Beirut, aside from his professorial activities.


On seeking incuriously” is the name of his Summer Academy course. “It’s a word,” he said after my asking what it meant. It means that a person can walk through the streets without being curious, without looking for something, but just to wander around with the aim being the walk itself.


I can only imagine how different Beirut is from Salzburg and Tony admitted his experience is only one of a tourist. “But when you go out of the center a little bit, not everything is so neat, people live there their normal lives. It’s a city, yes, although small.” Thinking about these words and about the Seeing tour I attended two days ago, I must admit that Salzburg does have the “real” side to it, filled with new construction sites, ordinary houses and different inhabitants.


In the moment of our conversation, the classroom was empty. Tony has sent out his students to explore the town. Later, they will talk about their views and experiences, hoping to gather ideas and eventually, present works towards the end of the class.


For now, the teacher and the students have set some basic grounds. A very diverse class includes seventeen people of different ages and experiences, some of which are not artists. They are divided into collaborative groups, encouraged to work together and learn from sharing ideas. It is still much too early to predict what we will see during the Open Days, but I am curious about the results of this joint effort. Next week, the class will gain a new teacher,  Marwa Arsanios, who will follow this process till the end.


Tonight, we will have the chance to view “one of the best horror films from Canada”, Pontypool, a different take on a zombie story. Tony Chakar’s interest in zombies comes from him seeing the undead walkers as a metaphor of consumerist society. The choice is also a subtle nod to the recently deceased filmmaker George A. Romero, the author of cult films Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, both of which are cleverly infused with critical elements directed toward modern American (capitalist) society. “I believe that zombieism spreads through language,” he added. As a horror fan, I am beyond curious to see what he meant. It might inspire me to do a zombie story of my own.

 

 

So, till later! Braaaains!

 

 

Ana



02/08/17 16:56 Summer Academy 2017

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