On october 22 an artistic event took place in Paris to raise funds for the humanitarian relief efforts in Lebanon. An overall very positive gesture undoubtably. However some aspects of it are highly critisizable and from my personal perspective utterly revolting.
As it is often the case the power and importance of culture through art is totally undermined and counter-productive on the very level it is supposed to act on. If the purpose is just to raise money then ok averything goes, but wouldn’t it be more efficient if we combine the money thing with a real reflexive artistic stance? Is this not what distinguishes artistic fund-raising events from other humanitarian efforts? Is this not also the opportunity to mark a clear cultural message around Lebanese identity?
There where some major names of Lebanese art involved from Roger Assaf and Etel Adnan to Elias El-Khoury or Zad Moultaka, great! Also some interesting french artists, but then another name comes up and is the one that French press will quote abundantly: Dick Rivers. Most of you probably don’t know this guy but he is third in line of the infamous french crooners (after Johnny Halliday and Eddy Mitchell) who made it big by becoming french clones of Elvis Presley and other champions of multinational american culture. Unlike the other 2, Dick Rivers has not changed, he still has his banana haircut and sideburns.
So, Dick Rivers singing for Lebanon? Doesn’t this sound odd to you? Are we on our way to have our own Lebanese crooners? Does anything go in an artistic event as long as it can help raise money?
I’m sorry to not agree with this idea and feel great shame because the people who organized this event are otherwise highly respectable. They clame to have no political affiliation but I have to insist that in art everything is political and specially the choice of artists that you wish to feature. Thinking about art and what it represents or refers to has much higher importance than “listening to the music of happiness” (translated from their “project” statement).