Video

GLUB (Hearts) Installation

Mieke Bal and Shahram Entekhabi

2004, 30:00 minutes, colour, English, German, Turkish, Russian, Farsi w/Eng. Subtitles

TAPECODE 728.04

GLUB, Arabic for “hearts” names edible “seeds” – the stuff of the future, growth and change, movement and sustenance. Hearts connote the beating heart of a live culture, survival, affection, and excitement. In this film, it is the excitement, overruling complaints and problems, anxieties and xenophobia.

The mixed societies that have emerged from migration have benefited from migrants arrival. Cities have become heterogeneous ("colourful"), music and cinema have been spectacularly enriched. On the streets of Berlin, e.g. in Kreuzberg, the shells of seeds testify to the presence of migrant culture in contemporary European urban centres. Those traces of passing gestures are the “low” icons of migratory aesthetics. “Low”: 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, through these shells and the sociability of the people who left them after eating outside and together, has donned a visible aspect of diversity.

GLUB is presented here as a modest, barely visible “icon” of the aesthetic changes in everyday urban culture. Arab youngsters are often seen hanging around eating seeds. These have rather little taste, provide little nourishment, and have no hallucinogenic qualities. One migrant said they eat them to pass the time that stretches out so endlessly for the unemployed. Then it became a habit, then an appreciated tradition, incorporating (literally) a sense of family and community. It now characterizes the visual sight of migrant young men in European cities. More so, however, when European youngsters began to imitate the cool-looking habit. Identity dissolves, while contact is being established, not necessarily between persons but surely within the “look” of culture. Glub-eating young men of Arabic and German backgrounds testify to the permeability of cultural boundaries, hence, identities.

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